Full-fledged development has not yet shed its light on Nepal. The more I read these lines and the more I look around me, the more I am convinced that infinite wrongs are visible to me in the country than rights. I write this after having attended events on youth and skills, and while the discourse on education and youth might seem like a usual one, it is equally important, especially when there’s trust deficit among the youths today, and it all relates with the very foundation i.e. education.
Leveraging the Power of Education
The move into federalization in September 2015 marked a celebration in Nepal. The years since then have witnessed improvements in the education status of Nepalis, including net enrollment rate, SLC pass rate, fewer dropouts, an increase in the household expenditure (i.e. 15.4%) for education and an overall jump in the literacy rate to reach at 68.3%. However, these are bigger pictures reflected in big numbers when in actuality a deeper level analysis is still missing, which if done, can leverage the sector even more. My concern for the deeper analysis of the education sector in a federal Nepal is not influenced by a philanthropic viewpoint only, but also from a fair belief that educated people can confer to the overall development of the country.
The development is currently held back by the significant gaps that still persist in the delivery and maintenance within the sector. The globalized world we operate in is synonymous with technology, and, thus, it is important to question how far we have come in integrating technology with our education so that the way learning is delivered can be maintained and adapted with changing times. However, the education sector in Nepal, which began with the purpose of creating bureaucrats suitable for that era, failed to realize its priority of diversification and integration with the changing eco-system.
School education in Nepal followed a routine work then. But, with time, new learning modules, use of ICT in classroom teaching-learning process, a digital library for easy access and many more elements are needed to give education a new face. Beyond building core academic competencies, there is a dire need to focus on social skill competencies in Nepal by taking examples from western world practices. There are games such as Ripple Effects and The Social Express which use virtual environment, storytelling and interactive experiences to develop a sense of understanding and adaptability in students by providing opportunities to practice these skills. Besides, there are a number of apps which can help develop self-awareness, cooperativeness and problem solving skills. Only when students are taught in this way can they be a part of blended learning. They can better question their environment and bring incremental positive changes accordingly.
Such kinds of changes are not taking place in a rapid way in Nepal because we have not yet connected our education system with technology. Because of this, youth, today, face a wide gap between accessibility and opportunities when in fact a range of innovative learning platforms exist. For instance, LRNG platform in Kansas helps youth master in a skill like coding, design, fashion, etc which can then be applied in their internship and employment programs. Further, there are learning networks such as Hive, where peer-to-peer professional development can take place through collaboration.
Polishing efforts again and again
Sure efforts have been put in to bring reforms in the education sector, which are laudable, but when the process is not integrated and reflected in the outcome, it becomes questionable in front of the public.
Discussions regarding these are important because in a federal country, the opportunities to close these gaps persist but Nepal has historically witnessed a failure to create an enabling institution. This has ultimately left its youth questioning the ability and willingness of its government. Youth, today, know what kind of skills are needed in this era but when the very foundation that they step up from (schools) has remained unchanged for years, their faith is easily put down.
It is not that they have rejected the reforms for education in a federal Nepal but, for them, the looming question is whether the concerned authorities will see the likeliness of the prospects that they are describing and whether the efforts put in will be polished and looked upon seriously.
As it was quoted by Chuck Palahniuk in the Fight Club, ‘We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
The quote resonates with me on a deeper level because I’ve only recently been pushed out into the ‘real world’ and with this comes the realization that maybe we’re not as important as we perceived ourselves to be at home. But I still believe that the kind of opinions we hold and the work we do can be important. Holding true to this, the overall experience in the events I have attended and the realization has left me questioning what difference we can make in the very country we live in. It has made me question my mental well-being and I demand tangible results. This is why, relating to the topic i.e. education, youth and technology in a federal Nepal, the magnanimity of the problem has to be realized timely because it is going to shape the context of the country here on. And also because the opinions and the systems that follow through this time onward are going to be reflected in the immediate environment. If the very base of our country’s march towards decentralization is weak and shaky, how are we going to build a strong and educated group? Where are our youth and our education headed in a federal Nepal?
The views of the author are independent and does not reflect the opinion of the organization.