It was in the discussion a decade ago that a University should be established in each region of the country. Particularly, in the context of the mid-western and the far western development region, it was also decided to establish Universities on government expense; as a result it was reflected in the development plan of Nepal.
Higher education plays a vital role in the sectoral development. Once the higher education institution is established, people from different sectors come to pursue their interest of education. In this way, an educated village is set up changing the development scenario of the sector. Big and famous universities of the world are living testimonies of this.
Last year, when the government decided to establish the mid-western, far-western and agriculture and forest university, people thought that the parliament had taken the right decision, even though it was long overdue. However, the parliamentarians are now fighting for the establishment of new universities based on political interest rather than starting and running the universities that had already been decided by them in the past. Nepali Congress is interested in Rajarshi Janak University, UML is interested in Madan Bhandari Proudyogiki Pratishthan, and Madheshbadi party is interested in Birgunj and Nepalgunj Universities. The reflection of all these is evident in the fiscal budget for 2011-12. If this is the case, who is going to take care of the universities that the parliament had decided on last year. This is the reason why the Open University case is still in limbo.
Now, the far-westerners are agitating to have their university in operation. On the other side, the government is so impotent that it has not even decided who should hold the position of Vice-chancellor of the university. The same is the fate of the other two universities. What a shame?
In a country of 30 million people, the government is unable to find a person who can lead a university. Then, how can the people trust the government, which is not even capable of finding the right person for the top university posts within one whole year?
One can see the deteriorating condition of the operating universities of Nepal. The universities like Tribhuvan, Nepal Sanskrit, Purwanchal, Pokhara and Medical Academy have no Vice-chancellors. The Minister of Education tried to appoint VC on an open-competition basis, but his own party stood against this move. What does this tell to people? This clearly tells that the political parties of Nepal want such a person in the position of VC who is capable of siphoning the university funds into the party coffers. If that is not the case, why does every political party want its candidate as VC of TU, the biggest University? The other reason is that a handsome amount of money is charged to those who seek affiliation of different programs from the university. It ranges from one million to 50 million, depending upon which programs are you interested in. And, that money directly goes to the political party having its candidate as VC. That is the reason the universities are getting poorer, while the political party and their cadres are getting richer by the day. Not only the universities, one can find the same scenario in the case of CTEVT and HSEB. Moreover, the District Education Offices do the same while granting approval to the private schools.
In this kind of corrupt junction, who pays attention to the cry of the far-westerners? The poor people in the far-western region want to design and develop their own system of higher education, which will be beneficial to the development of their region. They also want their own VC, and other authorities to run the university honestly and not by the corrupt people appointed by one or the other political party.
They have their own valuable indigenous knowledge and skills which they want to explore and develop for the higher level education. They have their own capable educated human resource to run the university. They know which sector of far-western region to give priority to so as to develop competent human resource to develop the sector.
Similar is the scenario of the mid-western region. Is not this enough for the government to let them decide their own VC and run the university? Once the country goes into federalism, the far-western or the mid-western region can become a separate province. At that time, can the central government tell them to appoint the VC they have recommended? Not at all; because each province tomorrow will become an autonomous region, and they will have the right to decide.
Unless and until the government and/or the political parties are educated about the value of higher education in this country, people’s hue and cry will not touch them. Moreover, unless the attitude of the political parties towards higher education is transformed from money-making to development of the country, we all will be suffering as our far-western friends are. So let us not be frustrated, but try to educate our leaders about the importance of higher education in Nepal in general, and in far-western region in particular.
Dr. Wagley is an educationist
(Source: The Himalayantimes)