The worldwide scenario tells us that the attitude of leaders is responsible in developing human resources required for the country. The top leaders‚ in many countries‚ have been able to develop the economy and other aspects of the society as envisaged in their long term planning. Countries having educated political leaders have always led the development of their country through the production of competent human resources.
A research was carried out by analyzing more than 30 years’ data by a group of researchers to identify the impact of political leaders’ profession and education on reforms. In other words‚ they analyzed whether the educational and professional background of political leaders matter. The data was collected from 500 political leaders from 73 countries. A research article in the Journal of Comparative Economics in 2009 concluded that leaders who were entrepreneurs‚ professional scientists‚ and trained economists focused national education towards development reform orientation. Contrary to this‚ they also found that leaders who were just union executives in the past were impeding reforms. There is a significant implication of this result in Nepali society.
Look at the leaders and their speeches‚ their level of understanding education‚ their competency concerning leading the country‚ and the way they are presenting themselves. It is a pity when former Prime Minister of Nepal and the leader of the biggest party UCPN-M Prachanda announced ‘to transform the university into military barracks’. This is not his fault‚ it is the fault of the kind of education he has had and the kind of capability he possesses. Since Prachanda is only the union executive as outlined in the research‚ he is trying to impede reforms. Prachanda is only an example; all political parties in Nepal have the same syndrome like Prachanda regarding education and development of the country.
Now‚ as members of the academia‚ it is our duty to educate them and to warn them against such move in Nepal. Let us see examples from around the world on how a political leader should present themselves when it comes to education and development issues.
Mary McAleese (2005)‚ then President of Ireland‚ realized the value of education and told‚ “It is no coincidence that Ireland’s economic fortunes began to change dramatically as the effects of widespread access to free second-level education began to kick in. All that vast reservoir of talent which had gone to waste in previous generations suddenly began to spill into every area of life...changing the story of Ireland”.
Nelson Mandela spoke‚ in 1997‚ of the centrality of education in re-creating the nation: “Our own reconstruction and development effort‚ the renaissance of the entire continent and our successful interaction in the global village‚ depend largely on the progress we make in educating our populations”. He realized the potential of educated youth in the country and reminded his country people that the power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. Moreover‚ he saw the importance of education in nation-building and reconciliation.
In 2004‚ Wu Qidi‚ then Minister for Education of The People’s Republic of China‚ had said “In today’s world‚ human society is experiencing a knowledge-and information-based society or knowledge economy.” That is the reason why he says that the Chinese government has formulated the strategies of ‘Rejuvenating China Through Science and Technology’ and ‘Strengthening China Through Human Resource Development’‚ meaning that China is determined to increase human capital investment‚ develop all types of education‚ construct a learning society by featuring education for all and lifelong learning.
Unichiro Koizumi‚ then Prime Minister of Japan‚ spoke to the Japanese Parliament in 2002‚ “In order to cultivate the ability to face a new era with courage‚ the modalities for education will be drastically transferred from being uniform and passive‚ to being independent and creative. We will advance reform of elementary and junior-high school education‚ aiming for solid academic prowess and rich minds‚ and the reform of universities in a manner befitting the mantel of the century of ‘wisdom’’.
In 2006‚ then UN Secretary General Kofe Annan spoke of the role of education in reducing conflict and terrorism‚ stating “I believe it is imperative to work on both fronts at once-seeking both to improve social and cultural understanding between peoples‚ and at the same time to resolve political conflicts”. ‘Any strategy to build bridges must depend heavily on education’.
It is imperative that our political leaders must prepare themselves to develop the nation through education‚ transforming its human resources into competent technicians and scientists required for the 21st century‚ not by turning them into militants. They should also understand that we cannot wrap ourselves in a comforting blanket of dogma‚ to keep us from facing the hard truth‚ as told by Queen Noor of Jordan.
Dr. Wagley is an educationist
(Article Source: The Himalayan Times)