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  • We are a relatively young democracy, still capable of aspiring for a drastic revitalisation of the education system. So what can be done?
- Bideha Nidhi Bhattarai

Oct 10, 2018-

The current educational system is a failure and the overwhelming unemployment rates are a testament to this. Hordes of high school pass-outs are flying abroad. It is a sad state for the country to be in, but even sadder is the excuse granted to policymakers in such a dire situation.

Every parent knows the education they are paying for is not the one that their child has been receiving and there is open disapproval of the system too. But the serious case of the education system’s illness needs deeper analyses than the ones we are used to. We simply haven’t dived deeper into the why of our education system’s failure. Yes, there are the obvious reasons: lack of skilled educators, lack of proper infrastructure and the social conditions in the rural areas, among others. Acknowledging readily these as the primary reasons for the failure of the education system, I want to probe further into the heart of the question from a different point of view.

Laziness

Rather than finding solutions, we let the conversation die off after pointing out deficiencies in the system. This is a very lazy approach. And even though this might sound as a possibly weak reason for the education system to fail, it is not. If we don’t confront the system, we will produce a docile generation with shy and low self-esteemed personalities incapable even of seeing the problems in the first place.

The sea of consultancies offering abroad study options are ever mushrooming. For a generation produced by the myopic system, the only option available seems to be finding a safer haven somewhere else. The work required to create a better environment from scratch is a lot more tedious than running away in an airplane. And this is exactly what the current educational system based on spoon-feeding is aiding. A timid generation of runaways.

Students need to realise that while a lot more challenging, creating a desired world in their own surroundings is going to be a lot more fulfilling than running away. But until then, this lazy system will keep producing even lazier students.

Haste makes waste

Second, the abruptness of our shift from traditional educational practices to more Westernised ones might have played a hand in the system’s failure. To dissect this problem, we need to go over what a ‘western education system’ means to us. An obvious fallacy lies in our perception of the West as ideal and hence, the western education system as the ideal one. Although the West might be more developed, there are certainly cracks in their educational system and they are beginning to show.

In reality, they have never had an ideal system. Let’s refer to the testimonies of great minds like Albert Einstein who famously said that education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. But the growing sense of pessimism in the West’s mindset too proves the point. And furthermore, critical social issues like United States’ problem of school shootings and the growing mental illness epidemic solidify the claim.  

Now, acknowledging that western education system is not ideal, what worsens the case even more is our haste makes waste case of adoption. The western education model that we adopted in the 20th century had been through a developmental phase of more than a thousand years. But instead of developing our own system, which relied heavily on religion and culture, we opted for the complete adoption of an alien system.

Heavy emphasis on English

Third is the private education sector’s heavy emphasis in English-medium education rather than Nepali. Famous philosopher Wittgenstein said the limits of my language are the limits of my world. To the Nepali students who have poor English in the first place, the lack of academic and literary Nepali prohibits them from grasping different fundamental ideas and concepts, hence aborting the growth of their critical abilities. The English-medium approach has failed miserably. Young students don’t feel at home when learning in a medium that they don’t speak outside of their classes and this problem of expression and comprehension goes on to hinder their critical abilities in the long-run.

Moreover, when being taught in a foreign medium, the inferiority of one’s own mother tongue begins to engender in the young students’ minds. It results in a subtle need to escape one’s native land. Our massive brain-drain problem is evidence to this claim.  

Glorification of hand-picked professions

Students are promised a better future in other sectors of economy, rather than the primary. Medicine and engineering are fields being dangerously glorified by the current system. Instead of creating new educational models for different parts of the country that primarily focus on the use of the available resources, we are producing human resources equipped to do jobs that simply don’t exist in the country. Bright students are forced into the scientific fields when they could easily have the potential to be innovative entrepreneurs. And the demography that does get lectures on entrepreneurship is not taught about the market condition of the country. Production of art and culture as a way to boost tourism, even in rural areas, has not yet been explored. Imagine people in the rural parts of the country being paid to create art and culture that could bring in tourists and also place the country on the world map.

To reinvigorate our education system, a drastic inclusion of our language, culture, religions and rituals needs to be assimilated into the body of study while being delicately progressive. But it’s easier said than done, since we have been incapable of emulating even the alien education we so readily adopted. Instead of progressing, we have been regressing in our efforts.

However, there is hope. After all, we are a relatively young democracy, still capable of aspiring for a drastic revitalisation of the education system.

- Bhattarai is a student of Bachelors in English and Economics at Golden Gate International College.

Published: 10-10-2018 08:17

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