Time has come for Nepal to redesign its education system in a way that ensures jobs and that addresses local needs
Unemployment is soaring up. Mass exodus of young educated people is on the rise. We have made no efforts to stop this. The stakeholders are just shedding crocodile tears. They don’t seem to be doing anything substantial to address this alarming situation.
The country is in desperate need of technical workforces such as plumbers, wielders, technicians, doctors and engineers, but all institutions seem to be focused more on offering programs in education, humanities and management. Agriculture provides a livelihood for than 70 percent of the population and significantly contributes to the country’s economy. How many schools, colleges and universities are offering programs on agriculture? Almost none. Even the government has not given due priority in establishing such schools in the rural areas where most people rely on agriculture.
Connecting educational institutions (EIs) to the world of work (WW) and establishing a robust information exchange system between the two is critical in transforming both education system and labor market. This will ultimately result in modernizing economic system. The demand and supply relationships between EIs and the WW are a two-way process. Poor coordination between the two institutions has hampered the existing labor labor market.
Developed countries have established a dynamic system of constant information exchange between the EIs and the WW, so that they can support one another contemporaneously. The stakeholders often interact to develop curricula jointly so that unemployment and practicality of education could be better addressed.
Our education system lacks comprehensive policy frameworks. It is considered as a subject to change in accordance with whims of donors. There is no objectively established analysis of the kind of education the country needs, let alone coherent interaction and agreement among stakeholders. There is no government body to assess the needs of society and play decisive roles, along with other stakeholders in tailoring education accordingly.
Pathetically, neither educational institutions nor people from local markets have shown interests in this crucial issue. Unless all parties initiate discourse on this issue, nothing will change. It is urgent to formulate comprehensive education policy and design curriculum to install basic infrastructures.
The fundamental goal of education is to serve and transform society both in short and long term. Education is the single most crucial factor in transforming people’s lives. Therefore we need to assess the local needs and tailor our education system accordingly. Countries in the world are working to find pragmatic education system to help their people meet the current needs and prepare for the future challenges. We must not lag behind.
Apart from individuals, it is the society and markets that harvest benefits from education. There should be constant interaction among market actors, policymakers and other stakeholders. Graduates should be able to find jobs at local job market.
Employing people that are skilled and have good knowledge of local community, its culture and tradition also benefit the local companies to expand and establish their market. The policymakers get opportunities to have objective knowledge about what society and local market needs are and how they can be addressed through education.
Sad truth is stakeholders in Nepal are not paying much attention to these core aspects of transforming economy through education. Instead, there seems to be a competition in establishing so-called manpower companies for sending people abroad for cheap labor. They are promoting brain and blood drain, which has already plagued the country’s socio-economic and educational development.
It is sad that our youths are becoming mercenaries and government itself is promoting this trend. Government has invested a huge amount of money in producing highly educated graduates, but they are on swift move. It has failed to provide local markets (good job opportunities) to its own graduates. Where are the government-sponsored scholars now? How many of them are working in the country?
An alarming trend of encouraging youths to go abroad has been on the rise. It has also promoted the culture of indifference towards exploring and establishing job opportunities in local markets. Provincial and local leaders should pay attention to these serious issues.
Time for change
We have our own ethnoknowledge and skills. Many people are eking out their living from wooden and soil pottery making, tailoring and folk song culture. We are rich in herbs, flora and fauna, and numerous cereal crops. But there is no education designed to explore them.
Folk music industry is booming and thousands of young people have found jobs in this sector. Thousands of young people aspire to become singers, models, musicians, technicians and dancers. But we have not yet designed education policy to capitalize on this.
Education designed to explore and promote indigenous knowledge and skills also support holistic education. Apart from enhancing physical, emotional, social, creative and spiritual potentials of individuals, holistic education promotes the relationships at all levels of a learning community and brings informal, non-formal and formal learning experiences together. It empowers learners to examine critically the cultural, moral and political contexts of their lives and promotes lifelong learning cultures which results in building a knowledge-based society.
Time has come for Nepal to redesign its education system in a way that ensures jobs and that addresses local needs.
The author is a research assistant at University of Oslo