Prof. Dr. Tek Nath Dhakal
The importance of public administration for the smooth running of state affairs has been considered an important phenomenon since the beginning of human civilization. Woodrow Wilson's famous essay on "The Study of Administration" in 1887 inspired the systematic study of public administration, which would help to understand the administrative process and the behaviour of both people at work and also the organization (Wilson, 1887). The faster momentum for initiating public administration education took place after the beginning of twentieth century from various perspectives. The primary interests of such studies were for searching the good theory of public administration. For this, a number of institutions for imparting public administration education were created in the West mainly after 1950s due to various interrelated events and developments. Some of the important factors for the development of administrative discipline according to Leemans (1976) were as follows:
a. a shift to a fundamentally new political situation;
b. institutionalization of various interest groups, trade unions, cooperatives, etc;
c. demonstration effect of specialization, differentiation and integration from the West;
d. developments in science and technology;
e. emergence of new values, such as democratization and confrontation; and
f. inadequacy of the existing administrative system.
In a way public administration education has been considered a felt-need in national and in the international context both in developed and developing countries (Poudyal, 1981). In Nepal, Tribhuvan University took initiatives pursuing public administration education in the late 1960s. In recent years, more universities are created and they are offering courses in public administration education. Tribhuvan University as the leading university in Nepal has been running different programs in public administration subject through different institutes.
This article discusses the development of public administration education in Nepal, its scopes and challenges in general and the role of Tribhuvan University for the development of this discipline in particular.
Retrospect of Public Administration Education in Nepal
It is important to note that Administrative Reorganization and Planning Commission (APPC) had recommended for establishing ‘Institute of Public Administration’ in 1956 as a process of institutionalizing modern administrative system in the country (Poudyal, 1989). As an academic discipline, the study of public administration in Nepal started with one-year Post-Graduate Diploma by the Department of Political Science of the Tribhuvan University in collaboration with USAID in 1968. The New Education System Plan introduced in the early 1970s also realized the need of public administration education to produce the middle level professional and technical manpower in Nepal. In 1970, Centre for Economic Development and Administration (CEDA) was entrusted to run Post-Graduate Diploma an academic course and to conduct high level training programs for gazetted level civil servants. Initially CEDA started one-year Diploma course in public administration. Immediately after one year in 1973, the program was shifted to Shankar Dev Campus under the then Institute of Business Administration, Commerce and Public Administration (IBACPA).
Tribhuvan University was able to establish ‘Public Administration Campus’ (PAC) in 1976 (Shrawan 17, 2033 B.S.) to run a full-fledge two-year academic program ‘Diploma in Public Administration (DPA)’. This was an important milestone for institutionalizing public administration education in Nepal. Initially the PAC was mandated to offer undergraduate program only for 50 students. After a couple of years the diploma program of public administration was revisited. As the subject was multi-disciplinary in nature, the appropriateness of the program was felt necessary to pursue Master in Public Administration (MPA). So, an additional responsibility of running MPA program was entrusted to the PAC in 1979 and the DPA program established earlier was phased out. Looking into the special nature of public administration education in Nepal the ‘High Level Education Commission 1981’ also recommended for establishing ‘School of Public Administration’ in Nepal. To gear up this idea, Tribhuvan University constituted a committee on "Granting Autonomy to Public Administration Campus" in 1986. The committee recommended a need to establish a separate "Graduate School of Public Administration" (Bhatta, 2044 B.S.). Giving proper attention to the importance of public management skills for the administrative system in the country and an effort for institutionalizing public administration education, Tribhuvan University created Central Department of Public Administration (CDPA) in 1985 as a separate entity as one of the two departments under Faculty of Management (FoM). With regard to expanding public administration education in Nepal, Tribhuvan University established an undergraduate program "Post Graduate Diploma in Police Science (PGDPS)" in 2006 which has been run by Nepal Police at National Academy of Police Training, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu. The PGDPS is a two-semester program. In 2011 Tribhuvan University initiated two programs of the public administration education in Nepal. Accordingly, Mahendra Morang Multiple Campus, Biratnagar introduced MPA program and the Central Department of Public Administration (CDPA) started M-Phil in Public Administration program in Kathmandu respectively. The M-Phil program is a threesemester program where as the MPA program is two-year program. Currently the CDPA has also been developing an undergraduate program in public administration. The proposed program will be four-year program.
These efforts are considered Tribhuvan University’s important endeavors to expand the public administration education in Nepal.
At present, Tribhuvan University has three main programs: M. Phil. in Public Administration (M-Phil program), MPA program and the PGDPS program. The objective of the M-Phil in Public Administration is to produce high-level human resources in order to prepare professionals in teaching and research in academic and research institutes, and also to serve in government, nongovernment, public enterprises and private sector organizations. This program also aims to upgrade and conduct independent research abilities among the teachers, and other fellows.
The specific objectives of the M-Phil programme are (Tribhuvan Univerity, 2011):
a. To train the students to the extensive knowledge and research skills in the key areas of administrative science, public policy and organization behaviour, research methodologies, development management, human resource management, and local governance;
b. To provide in-depth knowledge on both in qualitative and quantitative research methods; and
c. To prepare students for ensuing Ph.D. in the field of Public affairs management
Institutions under Tribhuvan University for running Public Administration Program Institute Program
d. The objective of the Master Degree in Public Administration is to produce high level manpower for professional career to serve the public management need of the governmental, non-government, public enterprises and the private sectors in the country.
The MPA program specifically aims to (Curriculum Development Center, 2009):
e. Equip students with conceptual and managerial knowledge that will allow them to function as effective managers in governmental or non-profit organizations,
f. Prepare high level human resources in the areas of public administration, development management, policy formulation and analysis, global governance, human resource development and contemporary issues in the public affairs management, and
g. Enhance research capability.
The PGDPS program aims to develop socially responsible, creative and result oriented police professionals to fill up the middle level positions in Police Organization of Nepal.
The course provides professional qualification indicating the achievement of intellectual skills and comprehensive knowledge and undertaking of general and specialized areas of police service (Tribhuvan University, Faculty of Management (2062 B.S. p. 1). This course is mainly targeted to Police Officer (Inspector) commissioned for Basic Training Program for imparting theoretical knowledge and practical skills.
Pattern of Student Enrollment
To get enrolled in the M-Phil program, the students should have two years working experiences. In PGDPS, the students are among the police personnel who are selected for inspector level posts. Though there is not any pre-service requirement for the eligibility of MPA students, the studies show that around 80 percent of the total students were among the employed ones in the government or in other sectors (Upadhyay, 2002; Nirola and Rana, 1992). This shows that students who enroll in M-Phil program, MPA program and PGDPS program are already employed either in governmental sector or in other private/nonprofit sector.
When the MPA program was initiated in 1979, most of the students were among the males and the employed ones. Of the total, the portion of the girls students was around 12 percent and just a 10 percent were among the fresh graduates. At present, there are around 30 percent female students and the fresh graduates also hold around one-third of the total students. Due to the demand of public administration graduates in the governmental and other sectors for employment, the pressure of enrollment has increased. In addition, there has also been growing interest among the girl students and the fresh graduates to study public administration education in Nepal. A girl student Usha Poudel thinks "the affirmative policy for the recruitment in the civil service and other services among the women, janajatis, dalits, and the madeshi also helps motivate the students to study MPA program in Nepal" (interviewed on Apr 29, 2012). It is also surprising to find that around 40 percent students of the MPA program have already another master degree before they study MPA. This is mainly because public administration education in Nepal is considered professional education and the number of potential students to study public administration education has been increasing year-by-year. The PAC source reveals that the pressure of admission for the MPA program is quite high compared to its quota and the capacity.
Efforts to Improve Quality of the Public Administration Education
To impart quality education, it requires development of infrastructure, trained teachers, usage of appropriate pedagogies, timely improvement of the curricula, improvement in the in-take of students, and the conducive teaching-learning environment. In short, teaching, research and the publication should go hand-in-hand to impart the quality education. A study shows that Tribhuvan University spends just a 0.5 percent of the total budget on research and development, which is very nominal to provide research opportunity to the teachers and the students (Dhakal, Dhakal and Niraula, 2009). In this context, the CDPA/PAC has been found to give due attention to improve its quality and expand programs over the period. Some of the improvements and initiatives in this regard are as follows:
a. CDPA/PAC is able to publish international standard journal "Nepalese Journal of Public Policy and Governance (NJPG)". The NJPG is a peer-reviewed journal published both in hard copy and in the online form. It facilitates to have enough access to the teachers, students and the concerned people.
b. CDPA is also able to coduct researches on governance and other public administration related fields.
c. CDPA is able to expand research collaboration with other universities and the research institutes both inside and outside the country.
d. The course has been updated and given priority to creative learing focusing on fieldowrk, project work and the thesis work.
e. The CDPA/PAC has organized for training on usage of online, effective teaching, etc. to enhance the quality of the teachers.
f. CDPA/PAC has developed online library system which provides opportunities teachers and the students for the online access for the study.
Despite the fact that public administration education in Nepal has been gaining its popularity and expanding both horizontally and vertically, it has various constraints.
Lack of Physical Facilities
Appropriate physical facilities at the academic institutions can help create conducive teaching- learning environment. Since the establishment of CDPA/PAC due attention has been lacking to infrastructure facilities suitable for teaching rooms, seminar halls, library, computer rooms and also for the administration. In a way, it has taken short-term and crisis management approach.
Drop-out of the Students
The public administration education is quite popular in Nepal and it evident from the increasing trend of students’ enrollment particularly in the MPA program. But on the other hand, studies also show that there has been around 49 percent drop-out rate in its master program (Dhakal, 2059 B.S, p. 24). It is evident that most of students at CDPA/PAC are employed. One of the main reasons of such phenomena is due to the transfer of the job holding students during their study period. The impact of such phenomena is enrollmentoutput ratio is low in MPA program. Since the recent past, there has been decreasing trend of drop-out (PAC office records 2068).
Human Resource Development
By nature, public administration education is a multi-disciplinary subject. To teach diverse course of instruction it demands more teachers with diverse expertise. Obviously to tackle of such situation the institution has to manage more specialized human resources in different fields. There is a lack of timely fulfillment of the teaching faculty in the vacant positions in a regular basis and enhancing their skills including the creating of research opportunities. There is also lack of rationalizing the teaching and administrative human resource in these institutions.
Students' Role in Teaching Learning Process
Students play an important role in the teaching learning process. Due to the involvement in the job, students tend to be of part-time nature and it affects the creative learning of the student. Since the last few years, the entrance test for the enrollment especially in the MPA program has not been conducted and it has affected the in-take of quality students.
Good governance is considered one of the important factors for the success of modern governance system. For this public administration education can also play important role. Considering the importance of public administration education in Nepal, Tribhuvan University has introduced this discipline by creating different programs and institutes. As a result different programs are created and expanded both horizontally and vertically. The key institutions such as CDPA and PAC have been playing important role for developing/ improving course of studies and implementing them. Despite certain constraints, public administration has been developing as an academic discipline and it is able to prove its significance. As a result other new universities other than Tribhuvan University are also pursuing public administration education. There is also increasing trend of students for the study of public administration. However, continuous improvement in the curricula and pedagogies is necessary to improve the quality of education in Nepal. For this, Tribhuvan University should pay attention to the development of infrastructures and provide more autonomy to CDPA and the PAC to develop public administration education in Nepal.