The process to establish country’s first open university has been hit as the Higher Education Bill-2010 gathers dust at Parliament awaiting approval.
The bill was drafted a year ago with a view to streamlining higher education institutions and universities. Despite Non-Resident Nepalis’ efforts to set up the open university targeting jobholders and those from remote areas, the fate of the bill is uncertain. At the 1999-SAARC Summit, Nepal had pledged to establish an open university.
Speaking at an interaction organised by the Open University of Nepal Initiative, vice-chancellors of all the universities in the country aired their views against the bill.
They said the bill limited their authority. Lumbini Bouddha University VC Tri Ratna Manandhar said the bill has a provision that secretary of the Ministry of Education will be an ex-officio member secretary of the Higher Education Council. “This will limit the autonomy of the university,” said Manandhar.
The VCs demanded a review of the bill, claiming that the bill would not create a congenial environment. The bill has also a provision of opening new universities and setting the criteria for establishing universities. Likewise, Rajarshi Janak University was tabled in the Parliament on June 28 in the interest of Nepali Congress.
Similarly, the bill for Madan Bhandari Pradhyaugik University, planned to be established in the interest of CPN-UML is on card.
Likewise, there are three more university bills tabled in the Parliament. The programme was attended by a large number of academia and NRNs, who are in the Capital for the fifth annual conference.
The OUNI established a year ago at the MoE has $21,000 fund received from the Canadian government for research on teaching learning modality in the context of Nepal. A Canadian open university — Athabasca University — has provided technical support for the initiative.
At the programme, educationist Bidhya Nath Koirala underscored the need of the open university as it provides higher education opportunity through to different strata of society, including housewives, school dropouts, security personnel and combatants in cantonments, through distance learning.
“We have technologies, resources and academia,” added Koirala.
(Source: The Himalayantimes Published on October 12)