Dr. Hari Lamsal is currently serving Nepal government as Joint Secretary at Ministry of Education. He is the current spokesperson for the ministry of education in Nepal. Colleges Nepal talked with Dr. Lamsal on present scenario of education policy and its implementation in Nepal.
THE BUDGET ALLOCATION FOR EDUCATION SECTOR LESSENS EACH YEAR. WHAT’S THE REASON BEHIND IT?
Education has been in the priority list only in constitution, law and documents but not in behavior. Since the government has been allocating very less budget for education, the investment in education sector has reduced. Due to this, both children and parents are being attracted towards private institutions and eventually the number of private colleges increased.
IN NEPAL, MOST OF THE EDUCATION BUDGET IS SPENT ON THE SALARY OF TEACHERS AND THE MANAGEMENT. IN THIS CASE ONLY A SMALL UNIT OF THE BUDGET IS LEFT FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION. WHAT STEPS WILL GOVERNMENT BE TAKING TO BRING SCHOLARSHIP SCHEMES, GRANT FACILITIES AND OTHERS IN FAVOR OF STUDENTS?
Yes, it’s true; a huge part of the investment is spent on the operation of colleges and Universities. It’s necessary to fulfill the obligatory costs that’s why the investment in student’s education is seen as residual approach. Government is unable to invest on scholarships, research, grants but we are trying to increase the investment. Let’s hope we will succeed.
EVERY YEAR A HUGE NUMBER OF STUDENTS ARE GOING ABROAD FOR FURTHER EDUCATION. WHY IS MINISTRY OF EDUCATION NOT TAKING ANY ACTION TO STOP THESE STUDENTS?
Ministry of Education has to take steps as per law. According to law, students who fulfill certain criteria should be allowed to go abroad. On one hand, the students are going abroad and on the other hand, colleges here are reducing the number of seats. So education should be the prime subject of discussion in the country but it’s not.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT SHOULD BE RESTRUCTURED IN ORDER TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM OF NEPAL?
There are lots of things to consider for restructuring such as curriculum, teacher management, and the system as a whole. The governance is now divided into three levels: Federal, regional and local. The education system will be restructured according to the selected governance.
WHEN COUNTRIES LIKE USA AND AUSTRALIA FACED RECESSION, THEY ADOPTED THE STRATEGY OF PULLING THE FOREIGN STUDENTS TO STRENGTHEN THEIR ECONOMY OVERNIGHT. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO NEPAL, IT TAKES LOTS OF TIME TO MAKE DECISION. WHY CAN’T WE IMPLEMENT ANY POLICY FAST?
While introducing the new policy, debating about it is a must. The country should invest in research and development. Talking about the foreign country, they have institutions and research centers that carry out the research. University itself is an institution that carries out research independently without any interference. They perform a lot of research prior to the nationwide implementation of the policy.
MOST OF THE EDUCATIONALISTS BELIEVE THAT NEPAL CAN BE AN EDUCATIONAL HUB. WHAT EDUCATION MINISTRY THINKS IN THIS MATTER?
Nepal undoubtedly has a great potential to be an educational hub. We have a diverse climate and wildlife here. It can be an ideal place for the study of biodiversity, herbs, mountaineering, forestry, agriculture. However, at first we need national vision.
WE SHOULD BE CLEAR ABOUT THE KIND OF SCHOOLS WE WILL BE RUNNING AND SHOULD PROVIDE EVERY TYPE OF FACILITIES WITHOUT INTERFERENCE.
NEPAL HAS BEEN THROUGH MAJOR CONFLICTS. CONSIDERING THAT, WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF NEPALI EDUCATION?
I was working in Kathmandu in Education Department while there were conflicts. But at that time also education was improving, education was less affected. Few students and teachers were displaced, that was a sad part but education was improving. We should invest more in higher education and place our focus on vocation. If we do this, in no time there will be momentum.
PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS SEEM TO BE OVERSHADOWING THE PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS. IN YOUR VIEW, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO ENHANCE THE CONDITION OF GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS?
The one thing we should learn from private institution is leadership quality. Public schools have enough infrastructures to compete with private schools. In comparison to private institutions, public institutions are at higher risk since they are not much focused on enhancing the quality. So we should increase the budget and restructure the current budget to strengthen the public system.
IS THE GOVERNMENT TRYING TO STOP THE INCREMENT OF PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS?
No, we should not do that. Neither we encourage nor we want to stop the establishment of private institutions but if you look at public interest at large, it’s important to improve public system. There is no way out. If the public system doesn’t improve, the imbalance in society will increase which will eventually affect every part of the country.