Civic Education in the National Context
One-day seminar jointly organised by NEFAS
10 November 2016 (Dumre, Tanahu)
Prepared by Ritu Raj Subedi
Elongated political transition has sapped the nation's economic,
political, cultural, religious and intellectual energy and confidence.
The state and the people, which are sovereign and do not require
electoral mandate for renewal and legitimacy, have been rendered
weak while the political parties and other non-state actors, which
must renew themselves through periodic election, are getting strong
and upper hand, giving rise to the uncalled for foreign meddling.
The ethno-centric nationalism has further exacerbate the nation
building process even after having the most inclusive and democratic
constitution in the South Asia. Now, the country's territorial
integrity and independent existence is under threat with some
political parties overtly blowing the ethnic politics to meet
their vested and egregious interest at beck and call of foreign
The absence of constitutional behaviour, democratic culture
and ethical perspective has put the country on a powder keg
of ethnic and territorial conflicts. This dangerous situation
must not be allowed to unfold, and should be brought to an end
with judicious approach. The civic education that promotes the
active citizenship can be an effective antidote to the ethnic
chauvinism. It conscientizes the people about their rights and
duties and make them responsible to the society. Civic education
is an intellectual tool for the constitutional enlightenment
that helps the people free from the infantile attitude and tendencies.
It instills the democratic, ethical and altruistic values in
them elevating them into rational citizens.
Nepal stands at the crossroads of history. Its restructuring
agenda has been made problematic with concoction of ethnic,
regional and foreign elements. With a view to inform the people
about the values of civic education and its role in building
democratic culture and nation building, the Nepal Foundation
for Advanced Studies (NEFAS), in coordination with the Friedrich
Ebert Stiftung (FES), organized a seminar on 'Civic Education
in the National Context' organised at Dumre, Tanahu in November.
Speaking at the seminar, experts called for promoting civic
education to free the nation from various anomalies, thereby
strengthening social harmony and democratic institutions. Students
need to be instilled with civic and moral values in order to
take the nation on the right track. Civic education help control
corruption and gain political stability, they said. Teachers,
representatives of different political parties and civil society
members attended the programme. Synopsis of the seminar is as
Gunanidhi Sharma, Former Vice-Chairman of National Planning
The Nepalese society is fast changing with intensive interactions
among the people. It is also strongly craving for economic development
in line with the new statute that has envisioned building a
socialist-oriented economy. It is necessary to do soul-searching
as to who had benefited from the economic liberalization that
only triggered lopsided development and created vast inequality
in the society. Happiness should be the aim of development as
material hunger has no limitation.
The strong economy is the key to the nation's independence
and dignity. In the past, the people were hungry for knowledge
but now they are hungry for development as reflected in the
new constitution. The eastern society was driven by ethics and
the western one by material passions. The current economic development
model has created two classes - the haves and the have-nots.
It does not correspond with the needs of people, society and
nature. As a result, climate change has occurred, generating
various negative impacts. We have both cultural and biological
diversities with immense potentials to socio-economic development.
Likewise, the nation has now 57 per cent active population (15-60)
but the state has not pursued appropriate policy to tap into
this demographic dividend.
It is up to the state to provide health and education to the
citizens. Sadly, both sectors have been privatized and the government
has got its hands off the health and education. After former
education minister Govinada Raj Joshi implemented the Company
Act, education went into the hands of profit-making businessmen.
Ananda Shrestha, NEFA Executive Director
Over two-and-half-a-decades have elapsed since the advent of
multiparty democracy but no significant change has been realized.
If one screens the contents of news media, they are awash with
negative news. Is that there is no alternative to the current
gerontocratic political leadership? The people have lost faith
in it and now the nation has pinned hope on the youth. The young
generation should be taught about civic education that highlights
their rights and duties towards the society.
The electoral system is defective as it lets the same old faces
come to power ad hominem. Give a fair crack to the youths. The
naturalized citizens should not be allowed to hold high public
posts until three generations of theirs has lived in Nepal.
The people should elect leaders with a clean image and the youth
should join the politics to clean up it.
CD Bhatta, FES Programme Officer
The rich people insist on granting unfettered freedom to them
while the poor often call for ensuring equality among the social
and economic classes. There should be balance between freedom
Our religious scripts stress donating the society and helping
the needy. This tradition, initiated by our ancestors, should
be followed and strengthened. Peace is the key to development
and stability. Nepal is the birthplace of Gautam Buddha and
it is imperative for us to follow his teachings to change our
heart and mind. Education is for the betterment of life and
the world but the youths have been unable to get this kind of
education. Education should promote wisdom. It should be for
the welfare of the society. Even a doctor should be accountable
to the community. Civic education is the need of the day and
students should absorb its values. Nepal's diversity should
be taken as strength, not liability. The Nepalese people launched
many political movements that could not live up to their expectations.
More the movements, more the society has become weak. The state
is not in a position to fulfill altogether 31 fundamental rights
mentioned in the new constitution.
Shiv Raj Dahal, programme officer of NEFAS
Citizens should be conscious, active and competent to make
the state strong, sovereign, independent and dignified. They
should be aware of their rights and duties. Civic education
is the key to maintaining ethnic goodwill, religious tolerance
and class balance. It is imperative for the youth to understand
the universal values of democracy so that they will be accountable
to the society and nation. Our politicians have deviated from
their path. They have not become leader but dealer and brokers,
leaving the people high and dry. It is the youth, who can punish
the bad politicians and bring them on the constitutional and
Our education has also become guided by the individualistic
western values. It is time to recall and embrace the eastern
spiritual knowledge, wisdom and tradition to promote moral education,
which our society badly needs. It is through the civic education
that the people can achieve these grand goals.
In a Loktantra, a good citizen requires following qualities
- Good socialization- It is a continuous process of learning
and internalizing the experiences and knowledge. This involves
experiencing and applying the social values, norms and skills,
language, art and literature.
- National identity- Nepal is the oldest independent nation
of Asia but the attempts are on to destroy the national identity.
Thus, it is necessary to build social solidarity and civic
culture to strengthen the national identity.
- Wise civic commitment
- Protection of national integrity
- Critical consciousness
- Citizen's thinking and skill
Roshan Pokharel, Lecturer at the Peace, Conflict and Development
Department, Tribhuvan University
Many of the fundamental rights in the constitution should be
kept under the directive principles and they should be implemented
only when the state becomes economically strong. The nation
will be mired into new kinds of constitutional conflicts after
the people started filing writs at the Supreme Court, demanding
that the state implement the fundamental rights enshrined in
the statute. The political influence has gratuitously dented
the judiciary and the judges are working as per the instruction
of the political parties. There was not adequate public participation
in devising the civil code. The principle of the separation
of powers should be strictly abided by in order to ensure rule
of law and constitutionalism.
From the floor
Navaraj Sigdel underlined the need for adopting positive thinking.
Kshitiz Lamichane noted that democracy should be for achieving
prosperity and strengthening nationality. He said, "Although
we are poor, we never gave up nationalism. In order to meet
fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution, we need political
stability. Nepal never became a colony. At the same time, we
never become independent when it comes to economic matters."
Ram Chandra Adhikari said that the political parties show double
standards- when they are in power and when they are in opposition,
resulting in the instability of the country. The leaderships
have failed to listen to the people's woes. Another participant
said that the politics is much to blame for the current deterioration.
Corruption and inflation have hit hard the people. There are
bona fide people in every layer of society but they have not
been recognized. Our social culture has lost its positive elements
as the parties are buying votes to get their candidates elected.
If one comes across the villages, they give an impression that
Nepal is no longer an agricultural nation. Casting a pessimistic
tone, Nirab Thapa said that brokereocracy is ruling the roost.
Tribhuvan Prasai said that civic education is critical to developing
positive attitude and enhance moral values in the society. Beni
Bahadur Thapa said that the change should come from the grassroots.
Sundar Lal Shrestha said that mercenary attitude had engulfed
the education sector and the students seem to be unaware of
their own history and geography. After destroying industries,
some leaders are talking about industrialization. They have
made the nation dependent on other nations and now we have to
fight against those, who grew the country dependency. Laxmi
Lamichhane said that many talent students have been deprived
of pursuing higher medical study owing to the ethnic quota system.
Response from Gunanidhi Sharma
Culture is an emotion-driven phenomenon. The new education
system had opened the door to modernization. Now industrious
people are out of country while idlers and loafers are here.
Around 69 per cent foreign investment and trade transaction
come from India. No work happens as per the planning. Incompetent
institutions hold command of development activities. Services
should be brought to the door of the people. The problem of
overstaffing needs to be ended.
From the chair, Man Bahadur Shrestha, chairman of the management
committee of Chij Kumar-Bishnu Kumari Community Campus, said
that it is necessary to change the mindset.
We have to be able to take the benefits of the economic developments
of two big neighbours. We have a 'bread and daughter' relations
with India. If we are capable and rich, no one will dominate
us. The politicians are to blame for the mess of the nation.
The organizers deserve kudos for conducting the seminar on civic
education, which has become very important in the present context.