Legal Education in Tribhuvan University: Challenges and Prospective

2014-04-05

Dr. Hari Sharan Chakhun

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Qualitative education as an indicator of a country’s development plays a vital role. Being technical in nature, legal education has got special importance for the development and promotion of a nation. A qualitative legal education received by the people in the country a crucial role in the international arena. It is law and legal education, which helps to play a significant role in establishing a just and equitable society. The appropriate and suitable legal education and legal knowledge along with training in the legal field helps to gear up the overall development in the nation. For all this, there is a need of sound institution which organizes and conducts programmes for providing legal knowledge and training.

Higher education in Nepal was not in existence prior to the establishment of Trichandra College in 1918. Accordingly, formal Legal education in Nepal started in the year 1970 B.S (1913) with the establishment of “Shrestha Pathasala” an elementary school set up with an objective to produce trained junior level clerical manpower for administration of justice in the country. Being an elementary school, it could not impart theoretical and high level legal knowledge to cater the need of the country. Higher education in the legal field in Nepal started after the establishment of Law College in the year 2011 B.S (1954 ) by offering LL.B courses programme. The courses offered mostly adopted the Indian model and Indian legal materials which did not matched with the national needs and national legal system. It is because, like other courses of at that time, Law College was established with an affiliation to Patna University of India. It must be appreciated that establishment of Law College led to the higher level legal education in Nepal.

With the foundation of Tribhuvan University in 1959, which started functioning from the year of 1960, LL.B programme managed by Law College with affiliation to Patna University were transformed into the legal education programme of Tribhuvan University, and legal education courses in the higher level then became an integral programme of Tribhuvan University. An integration of LL.B programme with Tribhuvan University made it possible to revise the courses of study and to incorporate Nepalese laws and legal principles in the course contents of LL.B. Like other private colleges, Law College was managed by theconcerned elite people who had made substantial contributions by extending help from their side. The government provided certain annual grants on a regular basis and land for the development of the law of Law College in the prime area of Kathmandu. Tribhuvan University started conducting annual examination after it started its own law courses.

Under the New National Education System Plan (NESP), initiated by the then Government in the year 2028 B.S. Tribhuvan University was reorganized as a National and State University. All the government colleges as well as private colleges were brought under the umbrella of Tribhuvan University and designated as constituent campuses of the university from Shrawan 2030 B. S.. All the expenses regarding the regular budget and development activities of all constituent campuses were borne by TU with the help of government. Under the New National Education System Plan (NESP), Tribhuvan University has been entrusted with responsibility of preparing required manpower for all round development of the country, including the legal field.

The National Education System Plan (NESP) was implemented with the objectives of producing, competent manpower of different levels i.e. low level, middle level, higher level and specialized level in different areas to meet the country's required manpower. Higher education was therefore leveled at four different standards viz. Procificiency Certificate Level, Diploma level, Degree level and Research level which are of Intermediate, Bachelor, Master and Doctorate level respectively.

Under NESP, Nepal Law College also merged with the central administration of Tribhuvan University in the year 2030 B.S. Institute of Law was established to manage higher level legal education in Nepal under Tribhuvan University.As per NESP 'Certificate Level of Law' (PCL) was introduced in the year 2030 with an objective to produce lower level manpower. This made a great breakthrough in the history of legal education of the nation.

The institute prepared two years comprehensive curriculum for legal education with some Humanities and Social Sciences subjects in the PCL, and three years Diploma courses, which also included the advanced level law subject and some Humanities and Social Sciences subjects along with some practical courses considering its technical and professional nature. When the Institute of Law was established, there was only one campus, Nepal Law Campus, in Kathmandu. Gradually the campuses were expanded to other part of the country and the number of constituent campuses is now 15. After Certificate Level of Law was phased outin the year 2053 B.S., the number of campuses reduced to twelve, ten constituent campuses and 2 private campuses. Now there are only six constituent campuses where three year LL.B programme has been running. 'Certificate Level of Law (PCL) has served a lot in respect of providing lower lever manpower in the judicial service and legal service of Nepal Government. It provided the lower level law manpower which was not there before the introduction of this course. Honorable Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Khil Raj Regmi has been repeatedly insisting to conduct such course to meet the need of lower level manpower in judicial as well as legal service.

Until 1985, Tribhuvan University remained one and the only university in Nepal. In the early 1980s, His Majesty’s Government developed the concept of multi university system for the country. One important assumption behind the concept was that each new university should have distinctive nature, content and function of its own. The first new university established after the inception of the concept of multi-university was Mahendra Sanskrit University. The inception of this university was soon followed by Kathmandu University in 1990. Purbanchal and Pokhara in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Currently there more than ten universities in Nepal.

In 2047 B.S Government of Nepal formed a Commission to review the existing education system. The commission submitted the report in the year 2049 B.S suggesting the needs of the reformation of managerial aspects of education and programmes for raising the quality of education. National Education Commission has set the national objective of education for all levels of education from primary education to higher education in Nepal.

Higher Secondary Education Act 2046 B.S and its amendment of 2049 B. S. has opened the door for 10+2 education system at the school level. This led to the need of phasing out the Proficiency Certificate Level from Tribhuvan University by 2057B. S. In this context, Proficiency Certificate of Law programme was phased out from Tribhuvan University, Faculty of Law, in the Year 2053 B.S.

Academic Programs being run by Faculty of Law, T.U.

Based on the critical assessment and scientific projection of emerging needs of various sectors, nationally and internationally, FOL is continuously involved in designing and launching legal education programs of different natures both professional and general. Currently, the FOL has following nomenclature of academic programmmes, some in operation and some in proposition.

I. Bachelor Level (Three years) Programme

a. Bachelor of Law (LL.B), (Annual System) currently running in six constituent campuses.

b. Bachelor of Arts and Law (B.A.LL.B.), (Annual System) currently running in two constituent campuses and many more demands are there.

As per the recommendation made by the National Education Commission of Nepal, 2049 and in view of the trends and practices of the SAARC region, Tribhuvan University introduced three years Bachelor's Degree programme in Nepal in 2052 B. S.. Faculty of Law introduced three year LL.B. curriculum with pure law subjects of various disciplines. After introduction of these LL.B. courses, it has been made open only to those students who have already passed Bachelor level of any discipline. The main motto behind it is to produce pure legal professional manpower as per need of the nation. So the major

objectives of three year LL.B. curriculum are:

  1. to provide in depth knowledge of law and develop intellectual skills of reasoning, investigation of law and their analysis with critical thinking as to practical skills of legal profession.
  2. to broaden the intellectual horizon and to develop the personalities of law students
  3. to promote the values of justice, equal rights and liberty as well as to make the law graduates from Tribhuvan Univeristy able to complete with other law graduates from the universities of Asia at least, SAARC region
  4. to prepare law graduate for new roles and to fulfill needs of the legal professional manpower both for national development and private sectors.

As the courses have been designed with specific objectives, the number of enrollment of students has gone down every year. The apparent reason behind such a fall is the number of academic years required to be a law graduate i.e. 10+2+3+3. Though the LL. B. degree is acquired after 18 years of study, it has the same status to that of Bachelor’s Degree with 15 academic-year-duration. Because of these reasons, the number of interested students in the legal field has gone down and as a result, the number of constituent campuses has gone down to six from ten and two private campuses are almost closed. Although number of enrolment is swelling in Nepal Law Campus, it is observed that there is a thin attendance in the class room. Most of the students have joined as part time students either to gain additional degree than that of professional degree or backed by an interest to be involved in students' union election. In such a case, expected skilled and qualitative manpower as per the goal cannot be produced. Therefore, there is danger of losing charm of LL.B courses in Tribhuvan University. To avoid such unexpected and unreasonable responses, strict admission, internal assessment and attendance policies are advisable to be adopted.

II. Master Level Programme

a Master of Law (LL.M) (Two years, Annual) Day programme is run in Nepal Law campus only.

b Master of Law (LL.M) Part time. (Three years, Annual)) Morning/evening programme is going to be started from the Academic year 2069/070 in Nepal Law Campus.

Tribhuvan University established the first post graduate programme i.e. two year Master of Laws (LL.M) in the Faculty of Law in the year 1996. It was started to fulfill the need of required jurists, legal academician, competent legal consultants and profession with firm grounding in the legal traditions of their nation and those of other worldwide legal system. Accordingly, it was thought that LL.M programme would promote scholars achieving the goal of legal excellence, develop highly skilled legal professionals and experts with specialization in the particular area at the national and international level. So, the courses of study incorporated in the programme consists of advance level of legal theories along with research methodology with specialization in any two at present in the area of Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Environmental Law, International Law, Commercial Law, and Refugee Law. New area is intended to be introduced as per the demand of the nation.

III. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Programme

Trhibhuvan Univeristy Faculty of Law has been running Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Law with the objectives of preparing specialized manpower for enhancing research in various avenues of law, developing Nepalese jurisprudence and strengthening the Nepalese legal system. Furthermore, the doctoral level scholars are expected to achieve high standard of academic excellence and contribute to legal theory and legal system by conducting original research. Since the introduction of Doctor of Degree of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Law in the Faculty of Law, the enrollment to this programme has started in the academic year 2054 B.S. It is intended to enhance research and developments in the country. The doctoral students are expected to achieve high standard of academic excellence and contribute to legal theory through original research. The total number of students enrolled in the Ph.D in Law academic programme of Faculty of Law, tribhuvan University, has reached to 52 from the academic year 2054 till the Jestha 2069. Out ofthem, 9 persons (including six faculty members) have accomplished all the requirements of Ph.D. Other enrolled students are undergoing their studies except seven students.

Other Research Programmes and Activities

Besides the regular academic programmes conducted by Faculty of Law, it has been conducting various additional activities in respect of strengthening law and legal knowledge. Faculty has established Environmental Studies Centres and Human Rights Studies Centre. Recently the Faculty introduced Clinical legal education by which it is intended to help and solicit poor and needy person in the area of legal issues. It has been involving in various research programme and conducting seminars and workshops in the emerging issues and aspects.

Tribhuvan University has been launching various faculty development programmes in respect of capacity building of Faculty. Under this programme Tribhuvan University has been providing scholarship to the intended Faculty Ph.D scholars, along with teachers exchange programme, study leave facilities, research assistance programme etc.. All these programmes have been there either to encourage for further research work or as an incentives for the promotion of legal knowledge and their exposure in the context of modern development. These programe have been very much effective and meaningful for the promotion of Law Faculty.

Challenges Ahead

The new problems emerging in the law and legal issues every day and hour have posed the following challenges for the Faculty of Law so as to meet the dynamic societal needs coupled with academic excellency in legal education:

  1. a Making programs result-oriented and blending them with new developments and innovations
  2. b Standardizing the programs to meet the national needs as well as international parameters
  3. c Timely modification and updating of curriculum to keep up with demands
  4. d Enhancing better relations with the corporate world in respect of promoting research activities and linking research with the teaching-learning process
  5. e Boosting the faculty development programs
  6. f Upgrading the academic programs up to the international mark
  7. g Exploring the new and emerging areas for academic programs and teaching pedagogies
  8. h Attracting, retaining and ensuring the qualified faculties
  9. i Developing and implementing the short term but practical courses to meet the human resource requirements of different sectors
  10. j Seeking collaboration with reputed institutions to twin the program and faculty exchange
  11. k Promoting programmes free from every impediments including politics

On accession of membership of Nepal to the WTO, the days ahead for Law and Legal education might prove to be tough. This new scenario however brings both opportunities and threats. Now onwards, Nepal will have to compete in knowledge and skill with the international market and it needs due preparation, supported by sufficient skills and resources. Otherwise, the entry of foreign investors with abundant resources and knowhow may endanger the very existence of domestic institutions.

Future Track

For the uninterrupted success of legal education in Nepal, the Faculty of Law needs to develop appropriate per se functional strategies with adequate consideration on the following aspects:

  1. Continuing enhancement of competitive strengths of academic courses
  2. Addressing the needs of dynamic global environment
  3. Launching of rigorous research and faculty development programs
  4. Establishing linkages with leading universities and legal training institutes abroad and collaborating to design and implement world class programs
  5. Implementing result-oriented faculty development programs regularly
  6. Establishing a close tie with Law Ministry, Supreme Courts and Attorney General Office along with Bar Council and Bar association and other organizations to produce programs actually meaningful and useful to the world of work
  7. Collaborating with reputed institutions for faculty as well as student exchange
  8. Participating in and organizing international level academic gatherings and developing networking
  9. Developing and implementing short-term condensed and pragmatic Graduate and Post Graduate academic courses to meet sectoral needs
  10. Designing and organizing short-term training courses to bridge up skill deficiencies
  11. Linking research with class room teaching and learning process

Conclusion

Education is a prime factor in the modern society. Best education is one, by which a person can become entirely perfect in his/her life. Education is considered as a cardinal factor for achieving overall  evelopment of a nation. It is education which transforms a society in the organization of knowledge and technology.

Developed and under developing country are aware of the importance and role played by Law and legal education in the process of development of their societies. Legal education, being a dynamic means of social change, should be provided to meet the need of the society. So the new programmes and activities in this area should be backed by national need with reference to the global changing scenario. So, merely introduction of new programmes and activities is not sufficient but sincerity, honesty and dedication of faculty along with full support of concerned authorities is very much important. Accordingly, introduction of new programs should not be considered as an achievement. The major challenging task behind it is to manage their sustainability with reasonable resources and regular monitoring programme. Legal education in the country will be able to stand in the legal education of the world, when these managerial challenging tasks can be fulfilled.

However, such crucial area of education is not free from various challenges amidst other problems. In the new millennium, one witnesses a paradigm shift in legal education and pedagogy. Liberalization, globalization and homogenization of the world community make new demands and pose fresh challenges to our established systems and practices. Thus it is time to think for dropping the old stereotyped notions of law. Moreover, it has become more significant as Nepal has become member of World Trade Organisation on April, 2004. So, Nepal needs to make modification of outdated laws, enactment of new laws to make them compatible with WTO rules and agreements. For this, knowledge of different avenues of laws is very important. The Faculty of Law has to struggle a lot to come across these challenges and meet the need of the nation.

Today's challenging task is to make saleable the national legal education programme in the global market. With association of Nepal in WTO, the man power produced from a nation must be competent not only at national level but also be able to stand and compete with the people coming from foreign universities. For this, there must be an ideal and proper legal education as to the developing status of a nation. It is because an ideal and proper legal education will be there to avoid some unexpected social evils like giving priority to immoral act, acts done unjustly with vested interest. It is possible to eliminate these social evils when Tribhuvan University can bring an ideal legal educational programme in the country.

Tribhuvan University, Faculty of Law, is there to provide the best of infrastructural facilities and academic inputs to train prospective legal experts, excellent academicians and lawyers who will be socially, economically, and politically sensitive and professionally adept. For this, main emphasis is to be given on practical training of the students to enhance technical skills of the profession through seminars, moot courts, project reports, expert lectures, work in lawyer’s chambers, court visits etc. Tribhuvan University has to take further leaps in order to accelerate the momentum towards higher level of excellence by considering the past achievements and experience as stepping stone.

There are 60 constituent campuses and more than 800 affiliated campuses at present under Tribhuvan University. Similarly hundreds of private campuses are expecting affiliation from TU. On the basis of organizational structure i.e. number of Teachers/administrative staff and involvement of students, Tribhuvan University is a second biggest organization next to Nepal Government in Nepal. It is already  overburdened by its duties and obligations.

So it is high time to think about this burden and bring new policy to curtail those over burdened programmes for the betterment of Tribhuvan University. For it, firm determination and honesty of the authorities is very important. It is required to be made free from politics in respect of appointment of authorities, teachers as well as administrative staff. Tribhuvan University has to concentrate on development of a policy for strengthening its academic excellence. Qualitative improvement of education heavily relies on quality of teachers and best use of the curriculum by teachers. The aim of education is not only to award certificates but also to inculcate required level of standard of education in students.