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Education without ethics is meaningless

One-day seminar organized by Modern Kannya Multiple College (MKMC) and FES

8 March 2017 (Kathmandu)

Prepared by Ritu Raj Subedi

Nepal has witnessed both qualitative and quantitative growth of educational institutions. The education system has not only been modernized but also commercialized. But, the public education is in the doldrums despite the investment of huge amount of money. Of course, the private education has quality but is out of the reach for the ordinary beings. This has led to the production of two classes of citizens - one taught in the private schools and colleges, and another in government schools and campuses. This has implanted structural inequality among the people from the very beginning. Another vexing issue is that there is no guarantee of job even after completing studies either in the private or government-run varsities.

This is a bitter reality facing the young Nepalese today. But there are other issues that need to be dealt promptly. Commercialization of education has invited myriad anomalies in the sector. The study of social sciences and humanities has declined. Today, there is little attraction for the study of history, culture, geography and political sciences because they do not offer good prospect for job. Neither the government has brought any scheme to promote these subjects. This has also become good pretext for the private educational institutions to give short shrift to them. Although education is the key to the overall empowerment of people and development of society, the neglect of social science and humanities has weakened the moral foundation of education. Devoid of normative values, education can't instill moral sense into the minds of citizens. Thus, it is necessary to integrate the elements of discipline, culture and morality into the teaching and learning process for the overall development of the country.

This view was resonated at a seminar "Culture and Education: Need of Young Women," held in Kathmandu on the occasion of International Women's Day. The speakers called for skill-oriented education for young women to prove their mettle in a competitive market. Seminar was divides into two parts - opening and technical sessions. The views of the key speakers, paper presenters and participants are as follows:

Former chief justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyay said that he was encouraged to see the progress of women who were marching hand in hand with their male counterpart. It takes time for good things to happen but it does not take a long time for bad things to occur. We have to nurture positive thinking and optimistic vision. The women had brighter days ahead in Nepal as they have attained significant gains in recent decades.

Former vice-chancellor of Tribhuvan University Shankar Raj Pathak said that Nepal should focus on the service sector - education, health and tourism - to create jobs and earn foreign currency as Nepal had little comparative advantage in the field of manufacturing at present. Resources are not precondition for development but it is the political will, transport and communications, skill, education, energy and discipline can help transform the society. Japan is a good example of this kind. Education without self-awareness and morality has no meaning.

Dev Raj Dahal, FES Nepal Office Head

Civic education is an education about enlightenment to create an awakened citizen and human being (jagrat nagarik). Nepal distills three traditions of enlightenment springing from three sources: Vedic (pre-religious), Janak (spiritual) and Buddha (rationalist). Discourses formed in the public places became a source of knowledge and public policy. All these civic traditions seek to remove dualism in human thinking and sought the harmony of human life and activities. Modern civic education aims at transforming the pre-political identity of people into sovereign citizens through socialization, mobilization, communication, territorialization, politicization and moralization. It also seeks to induct youth into a modern, rationalistic civic culture. Agencies of socialization are mediating structures between individuals in their private life and the larger institutions of national life. These mediating structures also help acculturate youth into constitutional patriotism and cosmopolitism embedded in international laws. A sense of international justice in political, economic and social life is important to overcome Nepali youths' attraction to unconventional politics- consumerism, frustration, migration, apathy, social movements and conflict.

Citizenship implies the membership of political community called state. This membership stands above individual's membership of youth with family, civil society, political parties, market institutions and interest-based associations. Only active citizenship can make the political leadership accountable, strengthen the state and abolish hereditary privileges in public life and public policy. An empowered citizen requires multiple capacities in several realms such as cognitive (knowledge and life experience), social (intimate sphere of family, neighborhood, religion, etc.), economic (production and exchange) and political (voice, visibility and representation in public political sphere) and a connection with national territoriality. Rekindling the spirit of civic education is both essential and a realistic hope for the renewal of democratic politics in Nepal. Civic competence alone can emancipate youths from false consciousness and prepare them for peaceful change to respond to the rapidly changing division of labour and the spirit of the age.

Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports Mahesh Prasad Dahal said that the ministry had launched an array of schemes to ensure inclusive gender equality and tap the potential of youths into the nation building. Without the women empowerment, overall development is impossible.

Former minister Laxman Ghimire said that the Vedic era witnessed equal intellectual and social status between the men and women, but later this tradition came to an end with the rise of various anomalies that discriminated women in the family and society. We need to rekindle our ancient enlightened tradition and knowledge to fight against the anomalies besetting the society today.

The gist of Professor Dr Bina Paudel's paper 'Culture and Education: Need of Young Women'

Many traditions and customs have been imposed on women in the name of culture. Anomalies in the guise of culture have been stumbling block to the women empowerment. Myriad of social bondages need to be broken. Earlier daughters were provided better education so that she would find good husbands. Now the parents think education as necessary tool to make daughter stand on her own feet. Socio-economic and political transformations are necessary for the overall development of women. This requires that men should change their behaviour and mindset, too. The mentality that without the support of men, the women can't make great strides in any sphere of life should be changed. The men, who have been enjoying the backing of culture, religion and laws, should realise that their counterpart, the women, should equally be capable to steer the society through the path of progress and prosperity. Even by providing reservation, the women should be encouraged to race along with the men. The development of women is also the development of men. When a woman becomes educated, the entire family becomes educated. This truth needs to be embraced by the men. Women should be given opportunities on a par with their male counterpart. Both men and women should change their mindset. Compared to a large number of uneducated women, if a few number of educated men prepares themselves, gender parity will not out of the reach.

Gorkhapatra Corporation general manager Sushil Koirala comments her paper:

Nepal has its own glorious history of women's movement. It should mark women's day in recognition of the struggles of Yog Maya Neupane, who drowned herself in the roaring Arun River along with 58 people about a century ago. Culture of any society is measured by the education, status and dignity of women. In order to create a cultured family and society, women should be educated. It is high time the programmes aimed at uplifting the women should be strictly implemented and monitored.

The gist of Rupa Khadka's paper 'the presence of women in education and communications'

In Nepal, women education formally started with the 'Basic Primary Education' launched by Gangabai, who came from India and lived at Thamel of Kathmandu during the time of Rana Prime Minister Bir Shumsher. When the Rana Prime Minister Dev Shumsher opened girl colleges in different places, they played an important role in promoting women education. The SLC Board was formed in 1990 BS in which 33 boys and one girl named Sabina Kumari Devi filled up forms for the SLC examination but she did not attend the exams. Girls had access to English education after Padma Shumsher established girl colleges in 2004 BS. In 2028 BS, the National Education Plan was devised. It was supposed to have brought a revolutionary change in the education field. Following the advent of multiparty democracy, various commissions and mechanisms came into existence that significantly contributed to women education.

Today Nepal is ahead of many advanced nations in terms of gender inclusion. Women comprise 29 per cent in the parliament that puts Nepal in 48th position in the representation of women in the parliament. The ADB has termed Nepal as 'leader' when it comes to the women representation in the various organs of sate.

However, the presence of Nepalese women in the field of journalism is not rosy. Women's first involvement in Nepali journalism began with the publication of 'Women,' a Nepal bhasa monthly under the editorship of Sadhana Pradhan and Kamaksha Devi in 2008 BS. Likewise, Priyambada Sharma had started publishing 'Prabha' monthly in the same year. Kunti Devi, editor of 'Pratibha' monthly and Rama Devi, editor of 'Janabikas' were some early women journalists. Following the 1990 political change, there has been quantitative and qualitative growth of women journalism. Still the number of women journalists is far fewer than their male counterpart. Of the total working journalists, women constitute around 25 per cent. They face various types of problems. Their remuneration is very poor and they do not get their salary in time. In some cases, they fail to receive salary. They are forced to shift their profession owing to paltry salary, lack of environment at workplace and home, and education. It is high time the state and the concerned stakeholders took special initiatives to attract women to the field of journalism. Awareness programmes, training and economic support are necessary. Journalism is the most effective forum to raise voice for the gender parity and create a violence-free society.

Commenting on her paper, senior journalist Rajendra Dev Acharya said that it sheds light on the history of women journalism as per timeline and contains treasure of facts and data, trend and the way forward to boost women participation in the field. Inner vigilance, skill and qualification were a prerequisite for being a good journalist. However, one needs to be careful not to classified journalists into groups.

Principal of Modern Kannya Multiple College Sagun Pokharel said that education was a powerful means for better survival.

Nikita Katawal, a student of the college, said that many young women suffered from depression and finally committed suicide as their academic qualification failed to give them a good job.

Chief of Kannya Multiple College Ram Prasad Dahal underlined the need for linking employment with education. It is necessary to forge unity among the women themselves for their own development. Despite progress in the field of women empowerment, the women must focus on building their capacity. He summed up the conclusion of seminar in the following sentences:

1. Promote civic education and its values
2. Forge unity among women
3. Become conscious of rights and duties, Loktantrik values and essence of civic education
4. Respect senior citizens and own culture and tradition.
5. Enhance capacity and strive for environment friendly situation
6. Join hands to do away with misconceptions and superstitions
7. Link education with job creation

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