Diminishing interest in cultural study


Himalayan News Service

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The development of human civilisation, how it moved towards modernisation, culture of our ancestors, how it has changed or remained the same, are a few aspects that can generate interest in every human being. Though you might have learnt something about culture in school, that is not sufficient for you to trace the in-depth development of human civilisation.

So, if you wish to understand those topics or pursue you career in culture, Tribhuvan University  and its constituent campuses offering Culture as course in Master’s and Bachelor’s level are the right destinations for you.

Bachelor’s level programme of Culture is offered at  Saraswati Multiple Campus, , Patan Multiple Campus , Dillibazar Kanya Multiple Campus (DKMC)  among others. Meanwhile, the Central Department of Nepalese History, Culture and Archaeology (NeHCA), Tribhuvan University (TU) is the only institution to offer Master’s level programme.

However, the declining interest of students seems to affect the future of this course in the colleges.

Multi-dimensional course “The whole activity of human being is culture,” says Prof Dr Dhan Bdr Kunwar, Head of Department at NeHCA. And the course Culture is the scientific study of those activities, he adds.

So, as a student of Culture, you won’t be studying about culture only. Culture in Bachelor’s level has subjects like Pre-history, Religion, Archaeology as well as Art and Architecture.

Meanwhile, you have to study Hindu Polity and Political History of Nepal, Hindu Social Organisation, Social and Economic History of Nepal, Religion and Philosophy, Epigraphy and Paleography, Numismatic, Research Methodology in the first year of Master’s in Nepalese History, Culture and Archaeology. 

While in the second year there are subjects like Iconography, Art and Architecture; Pre-History and 

Archaeology; Vedic, Upanishad Religion and Philosophy; Culture Concept and Tradition or Museology; Ethno-Cultural History of Nepal or Cultural Tourism; Field Archaeology and more.

“In the second year, the students also need to write a thesis and do field visit for excavation,”Prof Dr Kunwar adds.

The course composition clearly shows that both history and culture are interrelated. To this Prof Dr Sabitree Mainali at NeHCA remarks, “Without the knowledge of history, your present doesn’t exist. And by studying culture, you get to know about history along with religion, culture, festivities and more.”

However, it is not that they are similar. Assistant Professor and former campus chief of DKMC, Tara Bhandari opines that while history only deals with studying artefacts having written proof and evidence, culture is not limited to written proof only. “Through excavation, exploration and field visits, it contributes to gain proof about the history,” she expresses. 

Who are eligible?

Students who have passed +2 in any level are eligible to study Culture at BA level. Meanwhile, students who have completed Bachelor’s level from any faculty are allowed to pursue Master’s level at NeHCA.

Prospects of cultural study

There are quite a lot of sectors where students can get employed after completing the course, as per Prof Dr Kunwar. “One can enter government service in the officer level as archaeologist, epigraphist or archivist. One can also work as a consultant/advisor in research institutions including government ministries and NGOs. You get employment opportunities in different sectors including travel and tourism art, museum, et cetera.”

However, as per Bhola Nath Regmi, Campus Chief of DKMC, only those with Master’s Degree in Culture are eligible to compete for the officer level position at the Department of Archaeology which currently lacks skilled manpower. 

Existing challenges 

At DKMC there are only four students in BA Ist Year and 12 students in BA IIIrd Year who are studying culture at present. And only 37 students are pursuing Master’s Ist Year programme at NeHCA.

And most of the constituent colleges of TU despite offering Culture course are not running the classes as there are not sufficient students, as per Regmi. The reason is the “students’ increased attraction towards those subjects which are job-oriented. Also there are new courses that are attracting students, ” as observed by Prof Dr Kunwar. 

Urmila Singh Tharu, pursuing BA Ist Year at DKMC is one of the students of Culture. Tharu whose + 2 is in Management was suggested by her sister to study it. “I was curious to know everything about history” which is why she opted to study Culture despite there being just four students in her batch.

But is it feasible to run classes with so few students? Regmi answers, “Even though we have a provision of not running a course with less than 10 students, we decided to run the Culture course as we didn’t want to let down the interested students.” However, he points out that it is not economical to run the course. 

Talking about the existing challenge, Prof Dr Kunwar adds, “Due to lack of budget, we don’t have a proper laboratory and are sustaining with limited resources.” 

Meanwhile, lack of textbooks is another problem where Bhandari shares, “We are managing by providing notes to the students.” 

The text books are mostly in English language and those who have studied Culture seem hesitant to publish books which is creating a shortage of textbooks.

Though the course has scope, the teachers feel the need for promotion and publicity of the subject to understand its core value.