Concerns over Politicization of Higher Education

Kathmandu - This week the matters continued to be focused on the concerns over situation of higher education in the country. The coverage included disapproval of the Education act by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. There were multiple opinion articles and letter to editors expressing concern over continuing political appointees in higher education institutions. An opinion article discussed on the importance of focusing on virtue over grades in school. An opinion article discussed the case of building a cricket stadium in the land of Agriculture based University. 

Abbreviations: MOEST- Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, TU- Tribhuwan University, KU- Kathmandu University, TUSC-TU Service Commission, KD-Kantipur Daily, THT- The Himalayan Times, SEE- Secondary Education Examination, BPKIHS-BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, CIAA- Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, VC- Vice Chancellor

- The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has rejected the draft laws of the National Education Act purposed by Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. There is a provision to get the opinion of the Ministry of Finance and Law before the Bill is taken to Parliament. The Education Bill has been returned with disagreement with the consent of the Finance Ministry, the Education Ministry had said.It was reported that the delay in educational policy reflecting the federal constitution is severely effecting the education system of the nation. Although the right to secondary education is given at the local level, the local government has not been able to function according to the constitutional system as there is no national law.Prime Minister KP Oli is not positive about the suggestion of a commission headed by the Minister of Education.  Members of the High Commission suggested that there are differences between the politicians in the ruling party. The article highlights that the high commission recommends to bring private schools into non-profit social institutions in the next ten years, while Prime Minister has repeatedly expressed the government's encouragement to the private sector-run educational institutes.

- An opinion article argued about how parents seek for grades more than virtue or behavior. The article argues at many times the parents prevents the younger minds from acting  more virtuously in situations , for the sake of personal protection or just comfort. The opinion also reflects on how the leaderships at higher education, lack ethical standard and how that can create a system and environment that could negatively impact the entire education system and academic culture of the nation.

- An opinion article was dedicated to the controversial decision of Bhaktapur metropolitan city to build an international cricket stadium. The article identifies that the lack of government’s priority for agriculture development is one of the reason that there is massive importing of food contributing to annual national deficit. The different cases of government’s decision of building multiple irrelevant infrastructure in land dedicated for agriculture firms is the indicator of government’s failure to recognize the need to invest in agriculture improvement stated the writer.

- A news reported that the teachers send from the central government units were not accepted by the local unit in lack of prior coordination with the local governments. Problems were created after all the 77 of Education Development and Coordination Unit started interviewing personals and recommended the workplace based on their choice. It was reported that the local government hasn’t accepted the existence of the Education Development and Coordination Units. Representatives of Kathmandu metropolitan city was reported stating that the appointment of teachers should be based on the local requirements, based on the data base created by municipalities.  

- An opinion article discussed the need to restructure School Sector Development Plan (SSDP) in line with federalism. It stated that Nepal will only achieve its 2030 vision of ensuring equitable access to safe and qualityeducation for all if the education sector plan and objectives are owned across allgovernments at the local, provincial and federal level.

- An opinion article appealed the government to stop the political appointment practice and practice to choose personals for universities based on skill and experience.  It expresses that the disastrous impact of such appointment has been publicly visible now, and its high time the civil society intervene in the matter, and not leave it to the politicians to continue compromising with the future of entire generation, students and society, for the benefits of family and party members. 

The fact that there are articles and letters in the media that are openly condemning political interest as major cause for the degradation of higher education indicates the well-established failed state of higher education. Another article clearly stated that our universities have failed and discussed the primary causes of it. The series of articles also indicate gradual organizing at citizen level who are coming in common ground to take a stand on the matter. It can be predicted that sooner than later, a civil organizing could happen to end political appointment of officials in the university.  

The question about who will train the news teachers in the federal structure was raised by a report in KD. Some news also reported about continued political appointments in TU Service Commission.  A news also reported that police has started a campaign to prevent ragging practice in colleges and have held 1,638 students in cases related to it in just two weeks. A news about local representatives’ visit to India with the fund allocated for educational tours was also reported in the media.

'Education this Week' is a joint effort put to analyze the press coverage of education in Nepal’s selected print media published in Kathmandu. The main aim of this effort is to identify and explain major education issues picked up by the media and give back and foreground of the news.This, we believe, will help policy makers and other responsible people to keep abreast with ongoing concerns and discussions on and around education. EduKhabar, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) , has produced this analysis based on the news printed in Kantipur (Nepali) and The Himalayan Times (English), Dailies, Himal Weekly(Nepali) and (international online portal) between July 31-August 6, 2019 (Sawan 15-21, 2076)- Editor.

Read this analysis in Nepali : उच्च शिक्षामा बढ्दो राजनीतिप्रतिको चासो

Read last week’s analysis : Losing trust on national education institutions

All analysis read by this link : Education This week