Open University of Nepal: A Mission to Learning and Innovation and Soverignty

By Dr. Pramod Dhakal

Before the exploit of modern humans touched my mountain village, we walked barefoot on its trails, forests, and terraces, even to go to Baglung Bazaar for writing School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination. I felt sophisticated in buying my first toothbrush while taking tuition classes in Painyupata for SLC. Radio and/or wristwatch were off-access even when studying at elite Tri-Chandra College in Kathmandu. It was a matter of status when my brother bought a radio after becoming a clerk of our village school. But no one today walks barefoot in my village, no one wears the worn-out clothes like we did, no one walks for days to go anywhere useful, and almost everyone today carries a mobile phone. Today, our village home has electricity, television, toilet, and tap drinking water. These amenities are coming near the reach of other villagers and young folks know more about technology than my brother, a school principal. The coming of the information age and globalization is changing the face of my village. However, this globalization of new era has pushed us towards greater dependency and vulnerability. Unable to find their means of survival in the country, village youths are taking menial temporary jobs in Middle East and elsewhere. Local production is diminishing and goods are imported, including food stuff. If someone were to block the supply (e.g. fuel) for ten days, most people of urban cities in Nepal would not be able to eat and there would be massive riots turning upside down. Perilous is this magical modern world for a small and poor country like Nepal that is still struggling to develop its capacity to ensure even basic survival of its people in case something unwanted happens. Should not it necessitate us to seek new ways for our survival?

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Open University of Nepal: Who wins?

By Dr. Pramod Dhakal

I was born in a mountain village in Nepal at a time villagers were establishing their first ever primary school. By the time I was in primary school, there were a number of primary schools in the region contesting to become a secondary school. In this competitive time, news broke out that Dhaulagiri Anchaladhish (In-charge of Zone Administration) was to tour in our area in two weeks time. Upon hearing the news, our villagers called an emergency meeting and decided to build a ten room school building before the day Anchaladhis set foot in the village. On the day of arrival of the high guests, all the villagers came to give a spectacular welcome of the entourage. The enormity of construction and the uniqueness of the welcome given to the officials were so overwhelming that our villagers got an outright approval for the secondary school. In turn, our villagers displaced all of their smart competitors to the sidelines. Thus the first ever secondary school of our area came to become in our village, with lessons for future aspirants of similar adventures. Continue reading

Inclusive Education: Empowering Public Education in the New Age of Communication

Pramod Dhakal, CFFN, Ottawa, Canada

Proceedings of Unfolding Futures: Nepalese Economy, Society, and Politics
Friday-Sunday, October 5-7, 2007, Ottawa, Canada

Abstract

Ranked 140th out of 177 countries by UNDP in Human Development Index, Nepal suffers from chronic illiteracy and human poverty. However, attempts to rescue its 28 million people out of this situation have produced dismal results and the Millennium Development Goals set by UNDP remains an illusive promise for Nepal. While politicians and policy makers are busy selling their own policies as being inclusive, the gap between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the marginalized, and the elite politicians and the grassroots people are steadily widening. Breaking this cycle of gloom is not going to be possible unless some non-conventional and innovative approaches are used to deliver education to the people living in the economically deprived regions of Nepal. Among the many approaches proposed in the article as being important for delivering significantly improved access and quality of education to the population, two have been identified as the most significant:

  1. Making education supported and sustained by the communities themselves,
  2. Supplementing educational institutions with a common pool of knowledge-resources collected and distributed with the use of modern telecommunication, computing, and multi-media technology.

This approach necessitates mechanisms for pooling of technical and knowledge resource, economical to distribution of existing knowledge, compounding new knowledge, and creating the environment for rewarding the emergence and growth of new knowledge, innovations, and inventions.
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