Lessons tough for a teacher who is now education minister


Himalayan News Service

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KATHMANDU: Dinanath Sharma, a prominent leader of a party that fought a decade-long war against not only the state but also the education system what they called bourgeoisie, now is holding the education ministry.

Coincidently, Sharma before becoming a fulltime politician in 1980 was a school teacher in Baglung. Though following a truce in 2005, the Maoists gave up war and joined the mainstream politics, Sharma now as the education minister has yet another war to win: He has a huge responsibility on his shoulders to bring about a drastic change in the ‘new education system policy of 1971’. But how tough it this battle?

The teacher-turned-minister well understands the fact that the ministry is still carrying on with the legacy of the Panchayat regime. “There is no policy guidelines at present,” says Sharma, who assumed the education ministry office 18 days ago.

He tells of his plans that are in pipelines but shies away from laying them down outright and says the whole country’s focus right now is on country’s peace and the constitution. “The nation is going through transition,” he quips. “Once the key twin tasks are accomplished, we will certainly devise a policy that will take our education system onto the right track.”

While Sharma has the compulsion of toying with the existing what he calls ‘Panchayati culture’, he, as the education minister, might face some more problems in the days to come. Contrary to party principle, there are about 700 Maoist leaders/ cadres who have invested in private schools and colleges. It’s an irony that the Maoist party, during the conflict, had spearheaded a campaign to close private schools in sub-urbs and remote areas, saying the education imparted by them were serving only the bourgeoisie, not working class people. The party had then launched people’s education (janabdi sikshya) in remote villages, mainly to persuade commoners to join their ‘people’s war’.

The Maoist party’s campaign that leaders must enroll their children into public schools has been limited to mere slogans.

Minister Sharma underscores the need of a separate education policy that embraces the spirit of the Jana Andolan II and the changes the country has undergone in recent past.

“It’s the policy that needs a complete turnaround,” says Sharma. “The education policy adopted during the Panchayati regime and other laws have been amended several times, private schools and universities were opened, but no effective measures were taken to regulate them.”

Sharma is of the view that the education policy should be developed squarely in connection with the economy of the country so that it could be made ‘more competitive in the global context’.

(Source: The Himalayantimes)