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Education in a Nepal Federal State
Problems and Opportunities
President of Nepal with PABSON Members and International Gue...
Professor Franz Josef Radermacher addresses the Rotary Club on Globalisation, Sustainability and Future
The background to ...
Nepal’s Minister for Industry with PABSON members and Prof Radermacher at the LOTUS Sports Day
The following day I was inv...
The conference on “Education and Federalism” held on Feb 20th
was a remarkable and packed event
with senior Government rep...
During the lunch break, I was asked by one of the local speakers how I would define and measure quality
education. It was ...
The people of Nepal are very warm and friendly and have a great tradition in crafts but Kathmandu has
many infrastructure ...
Kishnant J Rana, MD of The Platform
I met and talked with many young innovators and entrepreneurs keen to share their proj...
2. We being the students of Grade XI had very less knowledge over the topic and had no excess to any
learned/professional ...
My final revelation was a visit to spend the morning at Lachhe Bahadur’s school in Kathmandu. The
Suryodaya Jyoti Secondar...
Problems and Opportunities - Conclusions
The Shanty Homes on the Bagmati River
There is no doubt that Kathmandu faces many...
Nepal has now occupied a space in my heart and I would love to do all within my power to help its
people fulfil their pote...
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Education in a Nepal Federal State - Problems and Opportunities

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My recent trip to Nepal was one of the most remarkable and memorable weeks in my life. I was an invited guest of Lachhe Bahadur, President of the Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal (PABSON), and a guest speaker at the PABSON organised conference in Kathmandu on the theme of “Education and Federalism”.
This was my very first visit to Nepal, a country which is currently undergoing a critical political and societal transition as its Government prepares a constitution to establish a Federal state. Education is a fundamentally important component in the determination of any country’s future and the conference was a focal point to influence and shape opinions about education strategy and the relationship between public and private education.

Published in: Education

Education in a Nepal Federal State - Problems and Opportunities

  1. 1. Education in a Nepal Federal State Problems and Opportunities President of Nepal with PABSON Members and International Guest Speakers from the Education Conference My recent trip to Nepal was one of the most remarkable and memorable weeks in my life. I was an invited guest of Lachhe Bahadur, President of the Private and Boarding Schools Organisation Nepal (PABSON), and a guest speaker at the PABSON organised conference in Kathmandu on the theme of “Education and Federalism”. This was my very first visit to Nepal, a country which is currently undergoing a critical political and societal transition as its Government prepares a constitution to establish a Federal state. Education is a fundamentally important component in the determination of any country’s future and the conference was a focal point to influence and shape opinions about education strategy and the relationship between public and private education.
  2. 2. Professor Franz Josef Radermacher addresses the Rotary Club on Globalisation, Sustainability and Future The background to my invitation was that I was involved in a European Project called Global Society Dialogue (GSD) led by Professor Franz Josef Radermacher of Ulm University in early 2000 along with representatives from around the globe, including Lachhe Bahadur, a school teacher from Nepal. The GSD project focused on the impact of technology on society and how to build an equitable and sustainable future for all of the world. Professor Radermacher had developed a Global Marshall Plan strategy that argued for balanced growth between developed and developing nations. The week began with an evening meeting of the Rotary Club where Professor Radermacher outlined some of the problems faced by the Globalised Society and the implications for a country like Nepal. Professor Radermacher is an expert on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data and, like myself, has seen the impact of these technologies on society, especially on knowledge professionals whose jobs have been either threatened or totally transformed by technological developments which make computers a cheaper and more effective option than a human being. He cited examples of how computers have evolved to become better chess players, able to diagnose cancer more consistently and accurately and make investment decisions in fractions of a second. Through my own work on Learning Technologies, I have long argued that teachers are no longer the subject matter experts whose role is to disseminate knowledge but rather they are vital guides, coaches and mentors whose essential role is to develop all round active citizens, healthy in mind and body with an ability to think critically combined with a commitment to collaboration and inter-dependency.
  3. 3. Nepal’s Minister for Industry with PABSON members and Prof Radermacher at the LOTUS Sports Day The following day I was invited to attend a school sports day in Kathmandu where the guest of honour was Nepal’s Minister for Industry and it was here, watching the students perform marching displays and sing and dance to traditional music, that I began to develop an understanding of the value of culture and education philosophies, not only in Nepal, but in Society as a whole. There is a great focus in Nepal in the role of education in developing fit, healthy bodies and minds in children who are encouraged to honour and respect their families, schools, communities and nation. Education and Federalism Conference The Conference Panel including Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education
  4. 4. The conference on “Education and Federalism” held on Feb 20th was a remarkable and packed event with senior Government representatives including the Deputy Prime Minister as speakers who not only attended the event and shared their views on Govt policy but also stayed to listen to a good part of the conference. The President of PABSON, Lachhe Bahadur, made an impassioned plea for financial support for the private education sector and cited many examples of how private and public sector could work together to provide a better education for all children in Nepal. His own school, Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary Boarding School is an example of one of the many private schools that deliver high standards of education but have to rely on community and parent funding and the commitment and passion of their teachers. Lachhe argued for more financial support from the Govt and prior to lunch I was invited to a private audience with the President of Nepal along with Professor Radermacher and his colleague from Germany, Professor Estelle Herlyn and members of the PABSON team. The President invited us to offer our recommendations on the key actions which Nepal could take to develop its education strategy and these will be summarised in a personal email to him. In his keynote presentation, Professor Radermacher re-iterated the global challenges faced by all countries in developing education strategies in an age of disruptive technological change. He argued that a good education and degree level qualifications are no longer any guarantee of a good job because technology is replacing knowledge professionals in almost every area. However, without education, there is little or no chance of a job but, because human capabilities of the physical body and the “soul” still give human beings an advantage over technology, vocational training will play a very important role in Nepal’s future. This was also the focus of Professor Herlyn’s presentation later in the day. Audience with the President of Nepal
  5. 5. During the lunch break, I was asked by one of the local speakers how I would define and measure quality education. It was a very difficult question because the traditional metrics that we have used for thousands of years to measure retention of knowledge and an ability to apply it are becoming less relevant if we want to build a sustainable future. With information rapidly changing and accessible via the internet, the transfer of knowledge by human beings is becoming redundant. My own belief is that quality education can only be measured by the extent to which it can fulfil the human potential of each and every individual whilst building a sustainable, equitable and inter-dependent society. Professor Radermacher observed that many societies around the world are developing into a “two-track” state in which the “haves” and “have-nots” co-exist but have very little human contact between each other. My presentation on Collaboration and Virtual Classroom Technologies gave examples of how such technologies can be used to build bridges between the private and public sectors but, although technologies to enhance learning could and should play a part in Nepal’s education strategy, the key issue really revolves around strong, united leadership, especially in a federal situation which could all too easily lead to conflicts and demands on very limited resources. This scenario would present a very bleak picture for Nepal which has so much to offer from its greatest asset, its human capital. Vegetable sellers in Patan City
  6. 6. The people of Nepal are very warm and friendly and have a great tradition in crafts but Kathmandu has many infrastructure problems. There are no railways, limited and crowded public transport in very old polluting vehicles, a massive use of motor scooters on overcrowded and poorly maintained streets and a badly polluted river. The health of the population in Nepal must suffer badly from these problems which also present severe obstacles for investment in infrastructure and commercial potential. The Technological Fest at the Institute of Engineering Pulchowk Students working on Driverless Car Technology It was by accident that my hotel was only 200 yards from the Pulchowk Institute of Engineering where an organisation called Locus were running a 3 day exhibition on modern technologies, with various competitions for student innovators and users of technology. It included a “Hackathon”, Coding competitions, “Fastest Texters”, “Fastest Googlers”, “FIFA Football contest” and showcases of student projects which included virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things. This came as something of a shock to see amongst the poverty in the back streets but, in reality, I should not have been surprised because I have witnessed and spoken about the way in which technology can empower people in extraordinary ways everywhere in the world. One of the young people I met was Krishnant J Rana, Founder and Managing Director of “The Platform”, a location with facilities for technology start-ups and human resources to help young technology entrepreneurs build new businesses in a kind of creative cluster similar in concept to the Serious games Institute I helped to found in the UK.
  7. 7. Kishnant J Rana, MD of The Platform I met and talked with many young innovators and entrepreneurs keen to share their projects with me and listen to some of the work we did at the Serious Games Institute on smart buildings, virtual worlds and augmented reality. These young people were competent, passionate and determined. I received an email from one of the students, an extract from which I have shared below :- “Hello Sir, I am one of the many students that you met today at the LOCUS Science Exhibition held at Pulchowk Campus (near Hotel Himalaya), where we had talked about the prior need of technological enhancement in Nepal to meet the global standards. I wanted to highlight some of the major problems that I had faced during the making of our project; the Phototactic (Light Following) Robot. 1. The materials that were required to build up the project were either not readily available or too expensive to afford.
  8. 8. 2. We being the students of Grade XI had very less knowledge over the topic and had no excess to any learned/professional for guidance. 3. As per the narrow mindedness of our society, many people contradicted our willingness to participate. We lacked moral support. Despite of all these problems, we worked hard and came up with our project. Even though we didn't win today, we do not see anyone worthy of the blame of our failure. Though we had made our minds before hand, there are many who get easily demoralized and stop working in these fields after facing failure. I can see a clear solution to this. We can create a website, which would be completely dedicated towards the technological advancement in Nepal, and not only encourage people to take part in competitions, but also to encourage them to invent technologies for the global market too.” These students show the kind of determination and active citizenship that has the potential to transform Nepal whilst protecting its precious cultural heritage and I would love to find people and organisations willing and able to help me work with Nepali people to build their resources and capacity. The Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary Boarding School Students at the Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary Boarding School
  9. 9. My final revelation was a visit to spend the morning at Lachhe Bahadur’s school in Kathmandu. The Suryodaya Jyoti Secondary Boarding School provides education for students from Kindergarden to 16 year old. Its’ Principal is a passionate social entrepreneur who has devoted his life to developing the potential of his young students. I was very moved by the welcome they gave us and by the quality of the students we spoke to. They were confident, polite, motivated and committed to the values of the school and the culture of Nepal. Principal Lachhe Bahadur with his IT Teacher in the Computer Lab This school was a wonderful example of what education can achieve when harnessed to a vision of a better future and attention to the individual potential of each individual student. I have posted images of my visit to Kathmandu and the conference on my website Flickr page at :- https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidwortley/sets/ and have posted a video of this school visit on my slideshare page at http://www.slideshare.net/dwortley/suryodaya-jyoti-secondary-boarding-school- visit-in-kathmandu-nepal
  10. 10. Problems and Opportunities - Conclusions The Shanty Homes on the Bagmati River There is no doubt that Kathmandu faces many challenges, especially in a high technology society of disruptive change. To compete in a global economy, it needs to harness its natural resources to maximum effect from a position of weakness in finance and infrastructure. In such circumstances, there will always be a “brain drain” problem in which the brightest and best are tempted to leave the country for a better future for themselves and their families. Despite this challenging situation which Professor Radermacher articulated as “You have no chance – take it”, there are many examples in history of nations being transformed by a common vision, most recently South Korea, Germany and India where technology and community engagement played big roles. It is also true that this age of disruptive change can allow countries to “leapfrog” each other by avoiding investment in technology legacy infrastructure and jumping to technologies such as 4G wireless broadband that can offer faster provision and cheaper access to the key mobile and portable technologies used today. The other opportunity which Nepal has is based on its human capital, culture and traditions. Societies in developing nations often have a community and collaborative culture that has been diluted or lost in the developed world and as we enter a period in history where collaborative technologies can make “the whole greater than the sum of its parts”, Nepal has some advantages it can build on. Vocational Education could also make a big difference to the economic development of the nation.
  11. 11. Nepal has now occupied a space in my heart and I would love to do all within my power to help its people fulfil their potential. I have many international contacts with expertise they could pass on to these wonderful people and I hope this article will encourage anyone who would like to contribute to working with me to contact me at david@davidwortley.com

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