Civic Education through Multipliers of Knowledge
Organized by Nepal Foundation for Advanced
18 October 2014 (Radhika
Higher Secondary School, Urlabari, Morang)
NEFAS in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized
a seminar on 'Civic education in the present context of Nepal'
on 18th October 2014 at Radhika Higher Secondary School, Urlabari,
Morang. Shiv Raj Dahal, young sociologist and program co-ordinator
of NEFAS, presented a working paper on civic education and its
urgency in the present context of Nepal. He spoke at length about
the dire state of the country and how the politics has led us
to this. He further added that the youths of country are turning
averse to the need of the country, which could be detrimental
to the country as a whole.
Political instability in Nepal never seems to end. Political
parties are fully responsible for the political turmoil in the
country, Dahal claimed. Blame game appears to be the new political
ideology every political party is embracing at present, he remarked.
He criticized political parties for their fixating on petty
matters and lengthening the transition phase. They engage in
altercation over smaller issues while keeping the important
ones, such as federalism, on the backburner. They are also not
willing to be flexible and come to an agreement. A regressive
political culture has developed in Nepal, and this does not
bode well for the future, he stated.
Political parties overthrew the monarchy and established Republic
with the backing of general public of the country, he mentioned.
They are letting down these very people by not functioning as
per the mandate of the people. The Republic system is supposed
to be of the people, but these political parties are isolating
themselves from the public and are busy fulfilling their own
needs. He added that people had pinned great hopes on them,
but disappointment is only what they have got till now.
Sociologist Dahal also shed light on the state of youths in
the country. Youths supported political parties during the People's
Revolution and were actively involved in it. A few of them even
sacrificed their lives. They were of the belief that their problems,
chiefly unemployment, will be addressed after the institutionalization
of Republic. Little did they know that only frustration would
be in store for them in the days to come. Youths have become
disillusioned with the politics and are no more concerned about
the status quo of the country. Worse, they are getting engaged
in nefarious activites, which can dismantle the social framework
of the country, he argued.
Civic education is warranted in Nepal in order that the youths
can be channeled through proper path, Dahal claimed. Their energy
and enthusiasm should not go to socially regressive activites;
instead, they should be directed for the betterment of the country,
Chandra Dev Bhatta, Program Officer of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
(FES), spoke about the programs conducted by FES and the underlying
objectives. FES has been proactive in carrying out such programs
which have been instrumental in awakening the conscience of
general public. He also touched on the role of Friedrich Ebert,
Germany's first president, in systematizing social dialogue
and debate, which are inevitable for betterment of a society.
FES is shouldering the responsibility of taking forward the
legacy of Friedrich Ebert, he mentioned.
This type of interaction programs are a must in our society,
argued Professor Ananda Shrestha, Executive Chairman of NEFAS.
Such programs help gather first-hand views and expectations
of general public, which could be utilized at the policy-making
level, he said. NEFAS has been regularly conducting such programs
throughout the country and been involving in social discourse
with the local people of different regions of the country, he
mentioned. He pointed out the guidance and support of FES for
successful conduction of such programs. FES has provided full
assistance to NEFAS for smooth conduction of such programs,
Nepal has been an independent country ever since its unification,
Prof Dr. Ram Kumar Dahal observed. The independence of Nepal
goes further in the past than that of developed nation such
as United States. Going by this fact, Nepal should have been
miles ahead than its current situation, he stated. Nepal falls
in the category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs); in fact,
Nepal is the chair of LDCs, he pointed out. Nepal could play
an influential role in UN if the country's diplomacy and political
situation are improved, he argued. But sadly, the country's
politics is taking turn for the worse, and disagreement among
political parties is the norm of the current politics of Nepal.
This has led to defamation of Nepal in the international forum,
he claimed. There is a dearth of competent and eligible people
in politics, diplomacy and bureaucracy; as a result, the incompetent
people who are currently in the leadership positions often bring
disgrace to the country, he remarked. He quoted Aristotle's
'Politics is a master science' to highlight the role politics
can play in making or breaking a country.
There is a need of civic education in the country, he said.
The political parties are feeding their youth cadres with their
political ideologies, making them loyal to their political parties.
This is not good for the youths, who are the pillars of the
country. We need to impart them civic education, one that makes
them good citizens of the country, he maintained. He echoed
Mao's 'The youths are the rising sun' to underline that the
success of a country rides on youths.
We ourselves are responsible for our current situation, Professor
Gunanidhi Sharma, former vice chairman of National Planning
Commission, said. Prof Sharma spoke about the economy of the
country and highlighted the substantial role economy plays in
overall development of a country. Politics begins where economy
ends, so betterment of economy needs to be our primary concern,
We can achieve a complete turn-around in socio-economic progress
within ten years if we become sincere in our approach, he stated.
The tardiness in Nepal's progress stems from our insincerity
towards our work, he claimed. Annual business loss appears to
be same every year with not an iota of improvement. Similarly,
national budget has stagnated for the last few years. Economy
should be in line with the population and people's expectation.
While the population is continually on the rise, the economy
has failed to do so. Economic growth rate of Nepal is 4.5 percent,
which is roughly where (3-4 percent) the economic growth of
Nepal has frozen in the last 30 years. Although life expectancy
has increased to 69 signifying an increase in quality of life
of people, there is a huge disparity in it, he clarified.
Industrial sector of Nepal is in a serious crisis, Prof Sharma
added. There is little domestic production of goods, and most
of our needs are fulfilled by foreign-manufactured products.
We have to rely on other countries to run our economy, he mentioned.
Nepal imports most of its basic requirements as well. At the
same time, the number of exported goods from Nepal is decreasing.
Trade liberalization has been implemented in Nepal without
proper study and preparation; as a result, we are facing this
unfavorable situation, he claimed. Earlier, Nepal was a welfare
state, and the onus of safeguarding and smoothly running different
sectors was on the state. After the establishment of democracy
in 1990, liberalization was ushered in. Unlike the expectation,
it brought with it disorderliness and irrationality. While the
state loosened its grip on various sectors, the private sector
also did not come forward. As a result, the country lost its
way and has not been able to find a direction. Malpractices
such as black marketing and election-centric politics have prevailed
in the country, he commented. He further added that these are
the repercussions of unmanaged capitalism.
Nepal's industrial resources and export policy revolve around
India. Trade share of Nepal with India, which was once 28 percent
during Panchayat system, has skyrocketed to 90 percent. India
has the first say in Nepal's industrial resources as well as
water resource. This is the result of 1950's treaty between
Nepal and India, which has had a detrimental effect in the progress
of Nepal, he claimed. Even the agriculture sector of Nepal has
suffered because of India's intervention, he said.
Nepal's economy is, to some extent, held by the remittance
and foreign donations. Gulf countries are inundated with Nepali
workers who, in the lack of employment opportunities within
the country, have gone there in search of work. In the same
vein, people from well off families have migrated to western
countries. Remittance from these people is sustaining Nepal's
economy, Prof Sharma pointed out.
Prof Sharma criticized that we are not focused on reality and
are always willing to exaggerate matters. We talk about transforming
the country into Singapore and Switzerland, but no one is keen
on building our own Nepal first. This type of hyperbole does
not bring any good to the country, he said. It is high time
that we engaged in some serious deliberations about taking the
country forward, he remarked.
Narayan Chaulagain, a local teacher, lamented the present
situation of the country. The country is headed for a disaster,
he said. He inquired about the remedial measures for the malady
the country is currently suffering from. He asked Prof Sharma
about his works during his stay at National Planning Commission.
Bishal Dahal, a BBA student, asked Prof Sharma about
his suggestions to the current constituent assembly. Young people
are increasingly gravitated towards foreign education and foreign
employment, which is a serious problem, he mentioned. He further
asked about the ways to stem this brain drain.
Keshav Rai, Principal, Morang Model Higher Secondary
School, spoke about the shortcomings in the seminar paper. The
paper focused too much on civic education and youths. Civic
education is equally applicable to people other than youths,
so civic education needs to be imparted to people of all ages,
he argued. He also highlighted the importance of ethics and
Ethical education should not be discounted, he claimed. He
further suggested that the states could be christened using
numbers and alphabets.
Rajendra Paudel, a local inhabitant and political activist,
criticized the paper on grounds of ethnic and identity based
federalism. He also pointed out that the speakers talked only
about the negative aspects of politics and economy of the country.
There was no mention of ways of righting the wrong, he said.
He also took a dig at Tribhuwan University and its professors
and said that they are also responsible for bad culture among
the youths. Politicians are not solely responsible for current
situation of Nepal, he argued.
Mohan Khanal, a teacher at Bhanu Lower Secondary School,
Urlabari, critiqued the paper and told that it gave cursory
information about the education system of the country. The paper
does not specify about the education system the country should
adopt, he argued. Our education system needs to be more skill-oriented
and technology-oriented, he commented. Our educating method,
textbooks are rife with blemishes, he pointed out. He added
that most of the problems of the country stem from political
turmoil, so solving the political problem would have a good
impact on other sectors of the country, he remarked. He also
suggested converting the seminar paper, with a few revisions,
into a booklet.
Bikram Ghimire, a local inhabitant, lamented small participation
of youths. He also underlined that the seminar paper focused
only on the problems prevalent in the country but did not mention
anything about the ways to tackle them. He further added that
the civic education needs to be imparted to the people at the
helm of political parties and the government.
Rajendra Karki, a local inhabitant, shed light on the
impunity for miscreants existing in the country. People who
go against the law need to be punished without any exception,
From the chair, Chandra Bahadur Rai, Chairperson of School Management
Committee, spoke about the positives of the program. He expressed
his thoughts on the role of such programs in the context of
nation building. Such programs can be instrumental in shaping
the policy of the country, he commented. He finally congratulated
NEFAS and FES for the successful conduction of the program.