When Gaurav Tripathi, 25, opted to study science in high school, he could not see himself going anywhere with it. Subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology failed to intrigue him and he made up his mind to follow his passion and enrolled himself in a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree with a major in sculpture.
Like Tripathi, there are many students in the capital who are defying the tradition of studying usual subjects like science and commerce among others.
Having recently completed his degree, Tripathi shares that since art is a creative field, there is a lot to learn and one can use the expertise and knowledge from it in other fields as well. But he does laments that there are some pitfalls of taking such subjects in a country like ours. “There isn’t much scope here in Nepal compare to other subjects,” he added.
Tripathi, however, was among the last batch to study sculpture at Kathmandu University (KU) as there was a lack of teachers and students.
This is evidence of how subject like sculpture are still at a developing phase in the country and isn’t yet as popular as the other field of studies.
But nowadays, the fresh batch of students are also opting for subjects that were not popular a decade back like Fine Arts, Hospitality Management, Fashion Designing, Interior Designing, Animation, Textile Designing and Polytechnics to name a few.
Laxman Gnawali, an associate professor at the School of Education, Kathmandu University (KU) points out that the tendency of taking offbeat subjects nowadays by the students conveys to us that knowledge for the sake of knowledge is no longer valued.
He opines that traditional subjects did not always prepare students with real life situations in the work field and knowledge is only useful, if used as a skill.
The tendency of going for offbeat subjects also echoes the modern idea of consumerism and these days something that does not sell is not worth embarking on.
Gnawali thinks that opting for non-conventional and skills based subjects to be accepted is only a matter of time and definitely helps the graduates to make careers as they learn skills that are handy and sellable.
Shraddha Shrestha, 22, a student of graphic designing of Bachelors in Fine Arts (BFA) , a four years course at Centre for Arts and Design at KU is of the opinion that students usually have a stereotypical way of thinking and they don’t want to explore what’s beyond. “Also there are limited scopes in Nepal for students who choose to study offbeat subjects.”
She believes that if one has the passion then they can create their own scope and excel in such fields. “Students opt for science and commerce but they should be able to take the risk if they really want to study something different.”
Sujan Chitrakar, coordinator of Centre for Art and Design at KU and an artist says that the number of interested students wanting to join Fine Arts is increasing, with each passing year.
“There are students who have dropped the usual courses that they had taken up and have joined us,” he explains.
Professor Gnawali further elaborates how the non-conventional skills based subjects do not just prepare graduates for taking jobs that have already been created by someone else. Such graduates also possess risk taking potentials and it offers them immense opportunities for creating self-employments.
Exploring newer avenues in colleges and universities will also create new economic opportunities. He believes that a tracer study will definitely prove that all graduates with non-conventional subjects are employed.
Gnawali further explains how some departments of universities are sometimes pressurized by candidates to take in more students than the maximum number. The main reason for this is that there are not many opportunities for candidates to go elsewhere.
“I feel that the Nepali social psyche consists on the non risk takers. If we encourage youths to take risks in their studies, they will learn to take risks later in their work life as well, which in turn will help the economy to prosper,” he states.
Nhooja Tuladhar, 21, was interested in animation from his school days. Wanting to take formal classes for it, he couldn’t find an institute offering such courses. Later to form a base for his career he decided to join Fine Arts for his Bachelors degree.
“The importance of art is evident everywhere, from TV to hoarding boards among others. But such expertise is not valued here,” he says.
Tuladhar further explains how people usually have the wrong notion that studying Fine Art is easy and opt for it as an escape route. “Hence there are students dropping science and joining Arts just for the sake of it. But studying Arts needs a lot of investment and hard work. People even think that all we do is paint which is a very wrong perception,” explains Tuladhar.
Expressing his passion to do something in the painting field, he says that the situation is not that bad as for those wanting to pursue a career in the field, there are scopes as well.
Being hopeful he adds, “I hope the scope in this field will thrive and people will learn to appreciate the subject.”