Education: The biggest casualty of student politics



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One would believe interest of students would be the paramount concern for student unions. But that seems to be the last of their worries, as some recent occurrences in Nepal show.

For the past three days, Kathmandu has been witnessing a four-hour ‘chakka-jam’, a local coinage for forced prevention of vehicular movement, from 6 to 10 every morning.

The so called motive behind this act by the student wing of an opposition party is to force Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and his Maoist-Madhesi coalition government out of office.

While there’s no indication that Bhattarai is affected by the move or is even contemplating resignation, the ‘chakka-jam’ has hurt thousands of students, both in schools and colleges.

Many educational establishments have remained closed and those who are running classes have been forced to start them late. But none including the government and the student unions seem bothered.

Last month, members of another student wing belonging to a different political party targeted school buses and colleges as part of a campaign to protect national interests.

Their ire was directed at schools and colleges having ‘foreign’ names. This campaign forced the government to ask educational establishments to change their names to Nepali ones.

But the sufferings caused to students remained unaddressed.

Though losses suffered by businesses and tourism get more highlighted, education seems to be the biggest casualty of Nepal’s unstable political atmosphere and frequent strikes and ‘chakka-jams’.

One would have hoped that after 10-years of civil war, things would return to normal. But they haven’t and there’s no denying that it would have a lasting impact on Nepal’s education sector.

Anyone who can afford, send their children to boarding schools in India. There’s no official count, but residential schools from Dehradun to Darjeeling have fair share of Nepali students.

Once out of schools, these students stay back in India for higher studies or fly to USA, UK, Australia, China and even Pakistan and Bangladesh. And since the job scenario back home is not very encouraging, several don’t prefer coming back.

Educational institutions in India and elsewhere have also realized the potential of the student market from Nepal and these days one can witness several education fairs round the year in Kathmandu where students and parents throng in search of a way out.

Those who can’t afford such exit continue to suffer.

(Source: Hindustan times)