Sunday, 5 December, 2021

Partisan politics plagues education sector


Manjima Dhakal


Politicisation of the education sector has been blamed for the declining quality of education over the years. Even as many countries have made tremendous progress in education field in a short span of time Nepal has lagged behind in this field. Nepali education system can see significant improvements but stakeholders say ‘politics has hampered its smooth progress’.
In principle, politics entails activities aimed at improving the governance system to bring about changes conditions of people and society. But, our assumption about the politics is quite negative. It’s all because of the excessive practice of partisan politics that mainly undermines meritocracy under the influence of power politics.

Is politics really responsible?
Mainly people have the assumption that politics is only cause for the worse status of education. Not only the general people, political personalities also stated that politics had disoriented education development particularly after the advent of multiparty system. But, the understanding of politicians and general people regarding politics is totally different. Commoners think that political unions only hit the streets time and again and disturb classrooms in the name of different movements. Students are the most vulnerable to fickle politics. When students are divided into unions under the political parties and intensify their activities, the dreams of hundreds of thousands of students are shattered as their classes are disrupted for months and examinations delayed. Thus, the ordinary people see politics as an element spoiling the future of students.
Political leaders have other take on the matter. Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) leader Lekhnath Neupane said partisan politics had damaged the education sector. In his opinion politics has the capacity to bring about positive change in education. “But, partisan culture has brought many anomalies in the sector after 1990. So, I do not take is otherwise when the public point finger at representatives of political parties for the bad education system for party representatives-led academic institutions are not faring well and are not role model,” said Neupane.
A month ago, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Giriraj Mani Pokharel, also echoed the views of Neupane. He stated that fair politics could improve the education system of any country. And the country had unfair politics responsible to the current mess in education.
Educationist Dr. Balchandra Luitel said politics was essential even in education as it was in itself a political process. But, the people know politics only as partisan behaviour that discourages meritocracy and makes political nexus as the basis of transfer and appointment of teachers and other officials. “It has undermined the inherent process of education. Such type of malpractice has been rife in the transitional phase,” he stated.
Prof. Dr. Madhav Prasad Gautam of Patan Multiple Campus said, “There are both positive and negative impacts of politics on education. If politics is used as a tool to address the challenges in education sector, then it’s very much healthy. But we can see some bad trends of using politics negatively in the entire sector, so it comes in same way in education, too.”
He underlined the need for imparting political education and contributing from all concerned to make create impact of politics on education.

What next
Though the amount of the political disturbance in the education sector is gradually decreasing, system of meritocracy has not been fully embraced. Due to some negative impressions of politics in education, people forget its positive impact, too. Stakeholders said there was a need for drawing clear distinction between general politics and partisan one. We have to stress on fair politics to improve the system.
To ensure bright future for generations, political knowledge is very important to youths. Politics these days is not heading towards a positive direction but to direct it, youth should get engaged in politics without harming their academic performance. If students are aware of the career, there are negative impacts of politics on them. And it’s high time the intellectual minds of students focused on the future roadmap of Nepal. If we see from positive angle, politics impacts education positively. Youths server as vital agents of change. Education is the gateway to prosperity so it is imperative that we try to give best education through politics.
Leader Neupane said: “To bring changes in people’s perception about politics, parties should have better schooling for their cadres in order to make the institutions they lead a role medal. Then, people will start saying that party politics is boon for changes in education.”
Educationist Luitel said education seemed changing in the recent years owing to stable government at the centre and local level. Education system has become more transparent in the federal system. According to Luitel, political parties must know that if politics improves, education will automatically improve.
Lastly, politics has turned to be very toxic for education system. Parties have to remind that education is not just a ‘word’ used in poll manifestos full of promises, but a foundation of a nation’s transformation. As a stable government is leading the country, it is the best time to end bad practices besetting the education sector.

(Dhakal is a TRN journalist)