Dear Supporters of Initiative for Open University of Nepal (OUN):
It has been some months since we had released the first release of official updates on the OUN initiative. An effort originally initiated by a small group of Nepalese Diaspora has been adopted with great strides by NRNs all over the world and the NRNA movement as a whole. Steady gains have been made since then at an unprecedented scale of enthusiasm of Nepalis and Nepali Diaspora. Today, we are at a juncture where tremendous material, intellectual, and many other forms of support in Nepal and abroad have been necessary to consolidate the gains made thus far and to make further progress. Here is the summary of current updates on the initiative for OUN.
- Following the successful conclusion of Houston workshop on May 28, 2010 and subsequent NRNA declaration of OUN initiative as its flagship project by the delegates of 4th Regional Conference of NRNA, a delegation by NRNA President Mr. Dev Man Hirachan met with the high officials of the Government of Nepal (GoN) carrying a message that NRNA wishes to undertake OUN initiative and collaborate with GoN, CFFN and Athabasca University for OUN establishment.
- NRNA Houston conference and subsequent media coverage on OUN activities added extra energy into the initiative. Avenues of mutual cooperation in the field of open and distance education were sought from various potential players. Certain understandings have been made since then with various governmental, non-governmental and private organizations that would lead into formal MoUs to be signed as the progresses are made in due course of time. Due to other urgent priorities evolving the process of formalizing the relationships especially with private sectors are put on hold for the time being.
- An interaction program on Open University of Nepal initiative was held in Boston, USA on July 2, 2010 with more than twenty Nepalese parliament members and other high level delegates present. This forum allowed the OUN initiative team to understand the depth of open university related work already done in the past two decades in Nepal, with their successes, failures, and the causes of their non-implementation. This gave a major platform for the team to present the OUN concept, outlining our strategies to this all-party delegation.
- August 12, 2010 a delegation comprising of Representative of Nepal Embassy in Canada, Dr. Mohamed Ally and Mr. Troy L Tait of Athabasca University (AU), and Dr. Ambika Adhikari, Dr. Drona Rasali, and Dr. Pramod Dhakal presented the OUN concept to the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Canada, the Canada International Development Agency (CIDA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) in separate meetings. These meetings oriented the Canadian agencies with our proposals for potential cooperation on the OUN initiative that was well received. The delegation in turn received valuable inputs from these representatives of the agencies on possible ways in which the proposals for cooperation could be channelized.
- A second workshop on Open University of Nepal was organized at the Carleton University, Canada on August 13, 2010. The event was successful in collecting many positive ideas from Nepalese Diaspora scholars as well as from other international experts on Open and Distance Education like Dr. Mohamed Ally and Dr. Barbara Spronk, and other scholars from USA and Canada. Other notable participatants were CFFN Advisors, Dr. David Kilgour, former Minister and 2010 nominee for Nobel Peace Prize, and Mr. Terry Curtis, former Vice-President of Nortel and one of the most respected citizen of Ottawa. Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Dr. Ambika Adhikari and Dr. Drona Rasali presented their working papers outlining general conceptual framework, resource mobilization and academic program development respectively. The workshop gathered significant inputs for developing comprehensive business plan for the OUN. Subsequently, we agreed on developing a “Case for Nepal” in collaboration with AU.
- NRN-Oceania held a follow-up OUN and Skills, Knowledge and Innovation (SKI) Interaction Workshop on September 5, 2010 at the Nepalese Consulate Office in Sydney, Australia. The key participants were Ambassador HE Yogendra Dhakal, NRNA President Mr Dev Man Hirachan, NRNA ICC Advisor Ms Indra Ban, Consul Hon Deepak Khadka, Regional Co-ordinator of NRNA-Oceania Mr Goba Katuwal, NRNA ICC Youth Affairs Co-ordinator Mr Bhabani Oli, President of NRNA-Australia Mr Dhurba Subedi, NRNA ICC Members Dr Raju Adhikari, Mr Shree Napit and Dr Krishna Hamal, NRNA-Australia Advisor Dr Ashok Shrestha, media persons and leaders of Nepalese community associations. NRNA Oceania appreciated the work of SKI Task Force and welcomed the launch of NRN Open University Project, the flag-ship project developed by the SKI that is expected to benefit millions of Nepalese people.
- On September 20, 2010 a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by NRNA, Athabasca University and CFFN. The three organizations agreed to collaborate with one another and with Government of Nepal for the purpose of establishing Open University of Nepal. This was a landmark achievement made in moving the Initiative for OUN forward. Arrangements for Dr. Frits Pannekoek’s trip to Kathmandu as a keynote speaker of the October 7 program for OUN Initiative were made around this time.
- On October 7, 2010, a high level interaction program was organized in Kathmandu jointly by the NRNA and the Ministry of Education, Nepal. Many key personalities of Nepal who are known for making significant contribution to the field of education and other stakeholders were present in the program. Special attendees of the program included Minister of Education Hon. Sarvendra Nath Shukla, NRNA President Mr. Dev Man Hirachan, Dr. Frits Pannekoek, President of International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and Athabasca University (AU), Vice-Chancellor of Tribhuvan University Dr. Madhav Raj Sharma, Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technoloy Dr. Surendra Raj Kaphle, Vice-Chancellor of Kathmandu University Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma, Secretary of the Minister of Education Mr. Deependra Bikram Thapa, Joint Secretary of Planning Mr. Janardan Nepal, and Joint Secretary of Higher Education Mr. Mahashram Sharma.
- On the high level interaction program held in Kathmandu on October 7, 2010, it was agreed to advance the work of the Initiative for Open University of Nepal in partnership and collaboration between MoE, NRNA, CFFN and AU. And a Steering Committee was formed in the chairmanship of Ministry of Education, with a mandate to create all necessary conditions to establish a publicly owned Open University of Nepal. A National Advisory Board was also formed. A resolution agreement between the Government of Nepal and the NRNA was signed to that effect.
- The Steering Committee for OUN initiative consists of Chair (Ministry of Education, Mr. Shankar P Pandey), Vice Chair (President of NRNA Mr. Dev Man Hirachan), Member Secretary Dr. Pramod Dhakal and members Dr. Frits Pannekoek – AU, Hon. Dr. David Kilgour – International, Hon. Prof. Stephen Lewis – International (TBC), Mr. Janardan Nepal – MoE, Mr. Mahashram Sharma – MoE, Dr. Mohamed Ally – AU, Dr. Bidya Nath Koirala – TU, Dr. Ambika Adhikari – USA, Dr. Drona Rasali – Canada, Dr. Raju Adhikari – Asia-Pacific, Dr. Krishna C Prasad – Europe, Dr. Bidya Ranjeet – USA, Dr. Kalyani Rai – USA, Dr. Mahabir Pun – Philanthropist, Dr. Kalidas Subedi – CFFN, Dr. Ishara Mahat – CFFN, Mr. Hom Raj Acharya – NRNA-Secretariat.
- The National Advisory Council Consists of National Planning Commission repesentative Dr. Tirtha Khaniya, Chairman of University Grant Commission, Ambassador to UN HE Gyan Chandra Acharya, Ambassador to USA HE Dr. Shankar P Sharma, Ambassador to Canada HE Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire, Ambassador to Australia HE Yogendra Dhakal, Ambassador to Germany HE Suresh P Pradhan, Ambassador to United Kingdom HE Suresh C Chalise, Representative of Ministry of Finance, Representative of Ministry of Law, Vice President of High Level Commission for Information Technology Mr. Manohar Bhattarai, Vice Chancellor of Nepal Academy of Science and Technology Dr. Surendra Raj Kaphle, Vice Chancellor of Tribhuvan University Dr. Madhav Prasad Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma, Vice Chancellor of Pokhara University Dr. Keshar Jung Baral, Chief Patron of NRNA Dr. Upendra Mahato, Dr. Mana Wagle, Dr. Bishwa Nath Prasad Agrawal, Dr. Hridaya Bajracharya, Dr. Madan Pariyar, Dr. Sujan Acharya, MP Gagan Thapa, MP Rabindra Adhikari, MP Keshab Nepal.
- There was a wide media coverage on the event of October 7, 2010. Interviews were given by MoE officials, NRNA President Mr. Dev Man Hirachan and General Secretary Mr. Ratan Jha and other officials on the issue. The OUN initiative was strongly highlighted by the President and the General Secretary of NRNA during NRN Day program in Pokhara held on October 11, 2010.
- Two half-hour long and three short television interviews, and two newspaper interviews were given exclusively on OUN initiative by Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Member Secretary of Initiative for OUN Steering Committee (OUNSC). One television interview was given by Dr. Frits Pannekoek and one by Dr. Raju Adhikari. These interviews were aired or published in Nepal in October, 2010.
- Earlier, OUN cause was highlighted by Dr. Pramod Dhakal as a panelist in BBC Sajha Sawal program, which was aired on October 1, 2010. The program helped to promote the OUN initiative to a large television and radio audience in Nepal and among Nepalese Diaspora.
- A number of places in Rupendehi, Nawalparasi, Chitawan, Nuwakot, Kabhre, and Kaski districts were visited by Dr. Pramod Dhakal for the purpose of identifying potential sites for advancing OUN activities. A number of institutions were also visited by him. More than half a dozen professionally successful Nepalese have pledged to him their full time service in Nepal to the cause of OUN as and when needed. Potential areas of collaborations were identified with a number of governmental and non-governmental institutions/organizations.
- A series of interactions was held at the Tribhuvan University, Nepal Development Research Institute, Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, and meetings were held with representatives of Nishibhuji Janata Campus (Baglung), Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Institute for Conflict Management Peace and Development, Lumbini Development Trust, NBDB Development Council (Dhorpatan Reserve), Pandit Dinabandhu Pokharel, BBC Nepali Service and other media houses.
- Three working committees of the OUN Initiative are currently advancing some crucial aspects of the initiative and making some major contributions as follows:
- 17.1 The OUN Resource Mobilization Committee (OUN-RMC) chaired by Dr Ambika Adhikari has Mr. Suman Timsina and Mr. Nabaraj Gurung as Vice Chairs and Dr. Drona Rasali, Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Dr. Raju Adhikari, Dr. Kalidas Subedi, Dr. Toya Baral, Dr. Arbind Mainali, Dr. Narayan Pokhrel, Dr. Lila Bhandari, Dr. Bishnu Paudel, Mr. Amrit Sunar, Mr. Tsewang Sherpalama, Dr. (Ms.) Ishara Mahat, and Mr. Homraj Acharya as members. OUNRMC has the following advisors, Mr. Dev Man Hirachan, Dr. Upendra Mahato, Mr. Jiba Lamichhane, Mr. Ratan Jha, Mr. Deepak Khadka, Mr. Naresh Koirala.
- 17.2 OUN Academic Development Committee (OUN-ADC) led by Dr. Drona Rasali and advised by Dr. Jeetendra Joshee, Dr. Prahlad Pant, and Dr. Alok Bohara has the following members: Dr. Krishna C. Prasad, Dr. Kalyani Rai, Dr. Bishal K. Sitaula, Dr. Bidya Ranjeet, Dr. Gokul Bhandari, Dr. Benu Adhikari, Dr. Tara Niraula, Dr. Tulsi Dharel, Dr. Suraj B. Thapa, Dr. Dev Raj Mishra, Mr. Aditya Sharma, Dr. Bidyanath Koirala, and Ex-Officio Members: Dr. Ambika Adhikari, Dr. Pramod Dhakal and Dr. Raju Adhikari. Dr. Shiva Gautam has agreed to take special responsibility as the Dean of Pilot Academic Programs.
- 17.3 The OUN Institutional Structuring Committee (OUN-ISC) chaired by Dr. Raju Adhikari has the following members: Mr. Bhim Udas, Mr. Bishwa Kanta Mainali, Dr. Neeru Shrestha, Mr. Chitra Pradhan, Mr. Ram Babu Nepal, Dr. Hom Murti Pant, Dr Ashok Sherestha, Ms. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Mr. Krishna Bhandari, Dr. Drona P Rasali, Dr Ambika P Adhikari and Dr. Pramod Dhakal.
- An interaction program was held at Nepal Embassy in Korea on November 2, 2010, jointly organized by the Embassy of Nepal, NRN-Korea and The Society of Nepalese Students in Korea (SONSIK). HE Ambassador Kamal P Koirala, Minister Councilor Yadav Khanal, Dr. Tae Rim Lee of Korea National Open University, Dr. Devi Basnet of NRN-Korea, and Mr. Prakash Dhamala of SONSIK spoke on various aspects of OUN issues. Dr. Pramod Dhakal gave the keynote speech and responded to questions arising from the floor.
- A special directive has been developed for fundraising and fund management. All funds in NRN communities will be collected for OUN Initiative. A special bank account for OUN has been setup by NRNA Secretariat; the account will be administered by OUN Steering Committee.
- Nepal Embassy in Canada held discussions with President of AU, Vice-President of AU, and Hon. David Kilgour on matters related to advancing OUN cause in Canada. HE Ambassador Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire has been invited for a visit to AU by the President.
- An interaction program with NRNs and officials of the University of Manitoba (UofM) was held on December 3, 2010 where OUN initiative National Advisory Board member and Nepalese Ambassador HE Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire was the keynote speaker. Possible academic and technical cooperation between OUN initiative and the UofM and potential grounds for collaboration were discussed.
- HE Dr. Bhoj Raj Ghimire and Dr. Pramod Dhakal are holding a meeting with Hon. David Malone, President of IDRC Canada and former Ambassador to Nepal, on December 8, 2010. Topic of discussion swill be on research and technological collaboration between OUN initiative and IDRC.
- NRN-Oceania is organizing an interactive discussions and fund-raising campaign for OUN on December 11, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. Strong participation from community organizations, exchange of valuable ideas, and generous fundraising outcomes are expected. OUNI Steering Committee Member and Chair of SKI Task Force and OUN-ISC Dr. Raju Adhikari, Regional Coordinator of NRN-Oceania and OUN-RMC Member Mr. Goba Katwal, Nepalese Consul and OUN-RMC Member Hon. Deepak Khadka, and NRN-Australia NCC are spearheading the campaign in Oceania. The program includes a OUN presentation by Dr Raju Adhikari followed by exchange of ideas and discussions on fund raising campaign strategy.
- NRNA 5th Regional Conference, being held in Dubai, UAE, on January 14-16 is organizing a special presentation and fundraising initiative for OUN. NRNA President Mr. Dev Man Hirachan and Dr. Pramod Dhakal are scheduled for the deliberations. Detailed updates will be provided by the conference organizing committee in a timely manner.
- Fundraising for the OUN initiative has begun. Thus far, a sum exceeding $120,000 has been pledged as a seed money for starting up the OUN activities by Nepalese Diaspora and friends of Nepal. Of this, more than half the pledges have been made from Canada. We are in such a momentous stage that we are in need of OUN leaders in every major cities and countries around the world from among NRN friends to take up the fundraising initiative and for gathering all other forms of inputs to the OUN initiative.
We look forward to having all your active involvement to make this enormously significant project for Nepal a grand success. We look forward to having your continued collaboration, support and contributions.
Member Secretary, OUN Steering Committee
Chair, OUN Resource Mobilization Committee
Chair, OUN Academic Development Committee
Chair, OUN Institutional Development Committee