Khagendra P Bhattarai, Associate Professor, Patan Multiple Campus
Modem higher education in
It was only in 1959 that
But there was a big change in education policy in 2028 (197fl; the New Educational System plan was introduced and all the community colleges were nationalized and brought directly under T.U. The government adopted the policy that education was the responsibility of the state and this policy had a tremendous impact on the nation. Some educationists, teachers and students were against the New Education System Plan but the government was fully determined to introduce the new plan and it did. But the New Education System Plan could not improve the quality of education, it rather deteriorated it. The assessment and semester type examinations were a total failure; examinations could not be controlled and run fairly; the authorities could not control mass cheating. Some students did not hesitate even to threaten teachers to obtain better marks, even when they had not done well.
There was a student agitation in 2036 B.S. (1980), with educational and political issues; Nepali students wanted democracy in the country and reform in education and were in the streets for many months. The government and the university could not control the agitation, and to pacify this, the late King Birendra formed a commission on higher education in 1980, which brought about major changes in higher education. Until then there was only one University-Tribhuvan University, but the commission recommended multi-university concept; private and community colleges were allowed to be run again, and there was the emergence of 10+2(3) ÷ 3(4) + 2 educational structure. The certificate level education was suggested to go to higher secondary schools from universities. Assessment and semester system of examination was abolished and annual system was introduced. After this we found some gradual change in the field of education in our country. The Higher Secondary Education Board was established in 1990 with a view to phasing out certificate level education from universities.
Objectives of Higher Education
Some principal objectives of higher education are as follows: To impart higher education to the people as per the need of the country; To preserve and develop the historical and cultural heritage of the nation; To promote social and economic justice; To alleviate poverty; To produce man power competent enough in the global context; To accumulate, advance and disseminate knowledge; To encourage and promote research in the fields of arts, science, commerce as well as vocational education; To help the university students build their character through the medium of higher education
Universities at Present
Though there are six universities more that 90% burden of higher education has been taken by
122 administrative and support staff.
This university, established in 2005, has just started running classes with a few students.
Commissions and Committees
Various commissions have been formed at different times for the development and reform of education in
Higher Education in the 10th Plan
After the dawn of democracy in 1950, the country has embarked on the path of planned development and now we are in the stage of the 10th Plan. In the 10th Plan, the main objectives of Higher education are: (a) to contribute to poverty reduction by developing quality professional workforce, and knowledge and technological base capable of supporting economic growth; and (b) to promote equitable access to higher education. To achieve the above mentioned objectives the following strategies have been adopted: To increase cost sharing; To provide scholarships and loans to meritorious and needy students; To move away from grant-based staff positions to block grant funding; To provide autonomy to T.U constituent campuses; To establish an Assessment and Accreditation council.
The 20 year vision plan made by T.U a few years back has been geared to meet the objectives of higher education as mentioned in the 10th Plan.
Higher Education Project (HEPI) and Reform in T.U.
Though the decentralization policy has made some contributions to improve the academic and financial status of some campuses, there are some limitations to it. It is said the policy of decentralization has not really decentralized the authority of the Central Office.
Second Higher Education Project 2006 and Reform in Higher Education
Now we have before us the Second Higher Education project, which is being implemented with the assistance of the World Bank. The first higher education project was confined only to the reform of Tribhuvan University (T.U.); but the second project aims at reforming higher education as a whole. It covers all the universities and even higher secondary school education board. The goals of the project are as follows:
• Improvement of financial sustainability of T.U. by providing incentives; Improvement of academic quality and financial sustainability of T.U. decentralized and autonomous campuses; Improvement of academic quality and financial sustainability of small universities; Improvement of quality and financial sustainability of community campuses.
• To facilitate the phase out of Proficiency Certificate Level (PCL) from universities; To strengthen the capacity of University Grants Commission (UdC) and Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES) to manage higher education.
University Grants Commission has taken all the responsibility for the implementation of the second higher education project.
The project aims at giving autonomous status to some T.U. campuses. Stakeholders’ participation in management, administrative autonomy, academic autonomy and financial autonomy are the basic principles of the policy of autonomy. The autonomous campuses will be given more power than the decentralized campuses. The management committee and the executive committee will be made at the recommendation of the campus itself. There will be more participation of stakeholders in the management committee. The campus can frame by- laws and code of conduct for teachers and administrative staff. It can appoint teachers and administrative staff on a fixed term basis and fix their salary and remuneration. It can fix the tuition fees and other fees of students and make provision of scholarship for teachers and students. It can make agreement with other similar national and international organizations or parties for the improvement of the campus. It is also allowed to frame curriculum as per the need of the market and administer examinations for the campus based programs after approval from the central office. It is expected that the policy of autonomy will increase a sense of competition arid the gap between the constituent and affiliated campuses will be bridged; and that it will stimulate campuses to improve academic standard and financial sustainability.
• Despite the government’s efforts from time to time, no concrete policy has been framed on higher education so far; now we need a clear-cut and concrete policy of the government to make a new Nepal in the aftermath of People’s Movement II; Politicization of higher education has been one of the serious problems that our universities have been facing. Almost every political party in Nepal has a student wing as its sister organization and students’ organizations are often used by the parties for political purposes, Sometimes even for petty interests. In every political movement or activity schools and colleges are frequently and badly affected. When there is a change in the leadership of the government university authorities are also changed, sometimes leading to the destabilization of the university. Sometimes even teachers’ associations do not confine themselves to their limits.
• There should be understanding between political parties to depoliticize education; Our universities are not in a position to make timely revision and improvement of the courses of study because of the lack of resources. Timely revision and improvement of courses taking into consideration the fast changing world of knowledge are immensely required.
• The improvement of academic quality in higher education is a big challenge to us. We have already become a member of WTO and in the changed global context we must be competitive to survive and meet the national requirements.
• The examination system of Nepalese Universities should be improved and modernized; it should be made scientific. The central system of examinations especially in T.U. should be decentralized in the process of reform.
• There has been a growing demand for M. Phil. and Ph. 0. degrees but universities have not been fully able to run programs to meet the growing demand.
• Universities should provide training, orientation and research opportunities to teachers to update their knowledge but university teachers in Nepal hardly get such opportunities and they follow the traditional method of teaching. In the changing context they should be trained, updated and encouraged to introduce new teaching methods in the classroom.
• Access of girl students to higher education is very poor; it has to be increased.
• Poor, brilliant and needy students from the marginalized, dalit and janjati groups should be encouraged to acquire higher education for social and economic justice. There should be a special provision for this.
• Despite several endeavors and decisions made by the government and universities, we have not been able to phase out certificate level education from universities. - -
• A strong and visionary academic leadership is the need of the day at every university.
We need to reform our higher education because it is very important for the development of the nation. It has lately been realized that a nation can develop and prosper even without natural resources if it has competent and educated manpower. Japan and Switzerland are taken as examples to substantiate this.
In a very short history of higher education, we have made different experiments. In the beginning there were only government colleges, and later the government allowed community colleges to be run. In 1970 all the colleges were nationalized but after a few years it was realized that the state could not take all the responsibility of education and no we have three different kinds of educational institutions - government funded, community managed and institutionalized (private). We are not yet clear as to what the higher education policy is; there are confusions and uncertainties. Maoists are against the privatization of educational institutions and now they are in power. We do not know what will happen in the future, but what we know is that the country needs a clear-cut education policy to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The author is also a former General Secretary of Nepal Council of World Affairs, Nepal. Text courtesy: NCWA magazine-ed.