Elections 2017: Hoping Changes For Better
As the result of the second round of elections come in and head towards the end, one point is obvious- the outcome of the elections will initiate and crystalise the wave of change. And, it is also a commonplace thought that all changes are possible with a properly planned and implemented education. Nepal leaves a history of about 7 decades in the exercise of modern education. Unfortunately though, neither the formal education nor the public literacy effort bore desired result in a reasonable time frame. A new wave of change in education planning with a non-partisan leadership from school to the university level is the need of the hour.
The scribe has been a teacher for decades and for a sincere teacher nothing encountered in the front or located in the back goes without keen observation. Every development, experience, event or activity can be a lesson, for now and the time to come. Preparation for the class always warranted caution and wisdom. Interaction with students always required and involved subject knowledge and practical experiences and yet a subtitle ‘best teacher’ remained always a dream. A nice pension, 70 years old feathers in the body and some experience inside the gray hair later, the world has always been a great source of knowledge for him.
But the tough and rough fact about knowledge transfer in Nepal is that some derelict brains on the top party brass have put the smooth growth of education development in jeopardy in the name of hasty and indiscreet amendments to the relevant laws. Now the teachers of Nepal will not carry teaching aids in the bag. They will rather carry party membership cards, documents, leaflets, party instruction materials and party election manifesto and head toward the political gala events. Their job as a teacher is and will be safe and sound regardless of what.
At a time when the country needs to equip the teacher with all skills and motivations to compete with the mushrooming private sector, the Education Minster moved an awful Bill to protect the interest of the highly unqualified and disqualified bunch of temporary teachers amidst severe criticism from the concerned corners of the society. The whole idea is to fail the system despite the unstoppable support from the international agencies including governments and banks. Here, mention of the BPEP Project series of the past decade for example come handy in this context in terms of the funneling of fund for the promotion of basic and primary education in the country. The School Sector Reform (SSR) is another big funding project that kept on funneling to see things changed and improved in the school sector. But the outcome has been dry, to say the least.
One may have to devise a greater project just to trace any bit of positive or desired change in education sector. One funny idea comes to mind. If the total fund thus handed over to the government for investment in school education was directly handed over to the school principals, things would have been many times better. One could see an excellent sanitary provision, drinking water facilities, nice building with clean and conducive classrooms, a playground or two, a school library with computer facilities and a strong group of motivated teachers ready to enter the class with subject matter and some motivation tips for the children. The existing laws do not allow the fund to go this way.
Given the status of public education – from school to the university - there is an urgent need to focus on several aspects and sectors. The latest move initiated by the deputy PM Gopal Man Shrestha in the form of a new legislation using the special Presidential power was something that reversed the process of educational development. This is the worst ever thing to see that highly unqualified teachers will go to school as party cadres than as teachers.
The aftermath of this election is now going to show some light replacing the age of darkness the school education was about to embark on. First, it will replace the caretaker government in about a month or so. This also means that worse and counter-productive decision based on partisan attitude will be replaced for a more productive, practical and result oriented education. The country needs it and must have it in place. There is no other option if the society has to move forward, if it has to promote mutual respect, sense of credibility and responsibility in the rank of leaders and their cadres.
Culturally, we are impoverishing ourselves. We are losing languages and dialects, watching the values eroding by day, importing, welcoming or coping others’ way of life at the cost of ours. Economically, the country suffers unprecedented and historic deficit in our business. A white paper is what the government is going to issue soon. This is not a normal situation. In order to set things right, the new government will have to start revamping ailing social and other sectors gradually.
Both the winners and the losers have shown solidarity in issues that need urgent attention and collaboration at different levels. A jovial Ram Karki, the winner, and equally friendly personality Bishwa Prakash Sharma, the loser, met in Jhapa the other day and exchanged happiness and preparedness to solve the urgent problem faced the people and the nation. This gesture is historic. Nothing of this sort was heard or seen in recent political history. This is the kind of spirit Nepal and Nepali want to see at this moment of history.
Finally, the election results have given enough tips for both the winners and losers to think over and act. Once all the results are collected and a final sheet prepared, there will be time for celebration. But action is what the people have been waiting for. People want change for better. They are tired of false and loose promises leaders normally make and forget to fulfill them. Many disappear from the scene and hang around in the capital. Now people, the voters, will not spare their energy and will take the leaders to task. This is important.