Dynamism of Forest Commons: Learning from Nepal’s Community Forestry

By Dr. Bishwa Regmi

The commons1 refer to resources that are collectively owned or shared between or among populations. These resources are said to be “held in common” and can include everything from natural resources to knowledge to software.

Forests have been and continued to be the foundation for human survival, livelihood and prosperity. Forests cover2 31% of the world’s total land area. As forest can generate large number of products and services, forest users’ interests often contradict, become diverse and competing. The question of who owns the forest, who claims them, who has access and control to the forests have been hotly debated in many forest regions of the world. These are often the main concerns of indigenous/local people who are directly dependent on forest resources. In this context, the aim of this paper is to review contemporary studies about forest commons in particular to Nepal’s Community Forestry.

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Video Lessons for Nepali Math Curricula

By Prashanta Dhakal

Distance education is an effective way of teaching in this modern era. Video lessons for high school will be CFFN’s pilot program to help Nepali students in both urban and rural areas.  To this end, I found Khan Academy Video Lessons as the most effective way of educating people through distance education. I appreciate and admire Khan Academy’s bold initiative in online tutorials. As mentioned in the previous article, Khan Academy is a collection of online tutorials, in various fields of math and other subjects, that has demonstrated itself to be an excellent format for lesson delivery. Each video focuses on one particular concept and can be viewed in isolation from other videos. CFFN is proposing to make similar videos that are tied to the Nepali curriculum. Not only are the videos useful in isolation, they are also treated as a piece of the bigger puzzle.

For someone versed in some level of basic math, it doesn’t take long to spot slight errors in many of the textbooks used in Nepal. For example, in a Grade 10 math book I glanced through, there was a subtle mistake in the third sentence of the first chapter itself. The following was written regarding cardinality of sets: “The number of distinct elements in a set A is called cardinal number of the set.” Here, the subtlety of the language could really mislead the student. The wording suggests that a set could be composed of non-distinct elements, and that the number of distinct elements is the cardinal number of the set. It would be a grave mistake if a student understood that sets could contain non-distinct elements.

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USHA: Diaspora Youth in Academic Bridging Programmes

By Benjamin Wood

Salman Khan did something amazing. What started as a simple idea to help tutor family members has turned into a large, non-profit organization. Around the time that CFFN was starting, so was the Khan Academy, an educational foundation driven to create a “free, virtual school where anyone can learn anything.”

In the past five years, Khan Academy has created and distributed 2,500 10-minute videos of pre-university topics that are presented in a simple way that’s like having a personal tutor or teacher right beside you. The videos are presented like a virtual chalkboard designed to be the simplest, easiest way for someone to follow along, focusing on problems and the methods to solve them. While math was the original focus, Khan Academy has branched off to include physics, chemistry, computer science, critical thinking, history and finance. Ultimately, the organization wishes to have videos on all scholastic topics.

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Helping Establish a Community Child Care Centre in Rural Nepal: Project 4C Update

By Tineke Casey and Michael Casey

As previously reported our 4C Project concentrates on education in rural Nepal at the youngest ages. Our goal with this project is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend school at the appropriate age. Currently older children are often drafted into child care for their younger siblings as both parents are away working all day. Children whose first arrival at school has been delayed, since they were required to stay home to attend to their younger siblings, have a very high dropout rate. If we can solve the child care issue at the village level then all children should be able to attend at their proper age.

A young child caring for an even younger child

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Update 003: Initiative for Open University of Nepal

Dear Supporters of Initiative for Open University of Nepal (OUN):

In our last update, we had covered progress made in OUN initiative until the beginning of December 2010. Today, we are proud to say that the momentum continued or even gathered further momentum in the meantime. The following are the recent achievements that we would like to inform you about.

  1. The Cabinet Meeting of Government of Nepal held on January 28, 2011 in Kathmandu approved the Umbrella University Act 2067. Following this development, the bill will be tabled in the Parliament of Nepal for approval. The parliamentary approval will make this bill an Act, which shall make a legal provision for establishing an Open University in Nepal. The OUN Team thanks all ministers, ministry officials, NRN officials, Ambassadors and others who helped raise the urgency of the matter. Now that this bill is heading to the parliament, we are in need of all suggestions for improvements that can be incorporated during its parliamentary deliberations.
  2. The Ministry of Education, Government of Nepal has allocated office space for the office of the Secretariat for OUN initiative. It is expected that this office will be furnished and be in operation by February 10, 2010. Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Member-Secretary of the Steering Committee will be heading this office in Kathmandu. Consequently, the address of correspondence for OUN matter has now changed to: Open University of Nepal Initiative Secretariat, Ministry of Education, Keshal Mahal, Kathmandu, Nepal.
  3. On January 31, 2011, Athabasca University, a principal collaborator in the OUN initiative and our mentor on development of open and distance institution, has been awarded UNESCO/COL Chair in Open Educational Resources (OER). As the OER Chair, Dr. Rory McGreal, who is also Associate Vice-President of AU, will be responsible for promoting the use of OERs at the institutional, national and international levels, particularly in the developing world. Dr. Arbind Mainali and Mr. Mohanath Acharya, members Nepalese Canadian Society of Edmonton (NeCaSE), represented Nepali Diaspora in the UNESCO/COL Chair announcement ceremony organized in Edmonton in presence of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta.

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In Search of Wisdom: Rural versus the Metropolis

Published in: NepalNews.com

The Jimirghat Bridge over Kali River had broken during the Maghe-Sankranti fair of 1978. This meant that Kali became a formidable barrier in route to Kathmandu from our mountain village. In the midst of torrential monsoon rain, on a single log canoe ferry, we took a risky adventure of crossing Kali, which was roaring with massive flood water. The risks and difficulties of our journey were overshadowed by our excitement for new experiences. Our first ever bus ride the next evening from Naudanda to Pokhara also remained forever memorable. In the evening of the third day, we took our first step to Kathmandu city, the gateway to future for aspirants. Its notable impact was a realization that we in the villages were so far behind in the race of time. Continue reading

Open University of Nepal: The Issues of Ownership, Autonomy and Funding

The momentum gathered by the Open University of Nepal (OUN) initiative has given much energy and excitement to those who are perspiring to build a futuristic university for Nepal, a university in pursuit of academic excellence and innovation. The potential OUN friends who are observing and waiting are questioning in their mind whether the fundamentals of OUN are sound. Perhaps stories of lacklustre performance of many Nepalese institutions, and the stories of foreign “universities” offering quick and easy certificates and degrees, makes Nepali aspirants weary in the first place. Naturally then, they want to be sure that certain fundamentals remain uncompromised for OUN. They want to be confident that OUN will not just be another university-business or a “diploma mill”. Therefore, much is there to tell about the lofty and inspiring mission of OUN. However, this article focuses on the questions of ownership, autonomy, and funding of OUN.

Who should own OUN? Should it be private, should it be public, or should it be in public-private partnership? Such are the dilemma that draw our attention and sometimes make us wonder and bewilder. However, these issues turn simpler once our own motivation for building OUN become clear. Our motivation has been not the profit for ourselves but a public good directed to strengthening human agency of fellow citizens, especially those who are today not able to acquire quality higher education despite having desire and talent for it. We aspire to use OUN as an agent for promoting excellence in education, research and innovation among broader Nepalese population. Continue reading

Open University of Nepal: Creating complimenting environment for all levels of education

By Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Dr. Govinda Dahal and Dr. Drona Rasali

Nepal today is sitting at a juncture of despair and hope for various historic, cultural, socio-economic, political, and other reasons. The way it is now, Nepal presents us with many areas requiring fundamental changes through interventions and improvements. Education is one such area. Research has proven that education is the largest single contributor in solving the problems of poverty, income disparity, and gender, ethnic, and wellbeing inequities. And within education there are so many areas to intervene and improve upon: early-childhood, elementary, secondary, higher, vocational, adult, continuing, formal, and informal, to name some. In this context, the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) is partnering with the Government of Nepal, the Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN), Athabasca University and other worthy institutions in building the Open University of Nepal (OUN). While this initiative has generated much excitement, certain intellectual quarters are inquiring why Non-Resident Nepalis (NRNs) got involved in higher education whereas there is so much need in the basic education itself. This article aims to offers some answers as to why the Open University of Nepal is the most desirable area for NRN contributions and why it also contributes in uplifting the state of basic education. Continue reading

Updates on Open University of Nepal – 002

Logo GON NRNA CFFN AU for Open University of NepalDear 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. Continue reading