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Aug 25, 2016

Two low-cost interventions that can significantly improve education in Nepal

A few months back, King's College had organized a close group discussion on improving education in Nepal. I was one of the attendees of the discussion. I had talked about two things that I thought were very important in improving the education scenario in Nepal, especially on an institutional level. I believe these two initiatives alone if implemented sincerely, can significantly improve students' receptiveness towards education and equip them with practical and sellable skills that Nepal's labour market is desperately looking for. As I reflected back on those ideas later on, I have come to believe that, they are in fact very cost effective and can be easily implemented by educational institutions without significant additional financial burden. Of course, education is a complex subject and improving it requires multifaceted interventions but these two ideas could be a start:

1. Answering WHY?

I read somewhere, "a person who knows how will always have a job and the person who knows why will always be the boss". I have found it to be true. The majority of our students, however, especially the ones who haven't had exposure to non-academic education/training, don't know the answer to the why question. Most of them don't know why they are studying a particular subject. A guy is studying BBA because his parents told him to or that it seemed like the only logical option after high school. A girl is studying B.Sc. because she took science in her high school and it seemed like the only perfect alternative. It is rare to find a Nepali student who knows what he/she wants to be in life and why he/she is studying a particular subject. Naturally, when you don't know why you are doing something it is very difficult to get excited about the task. No wonder, most of our students are half dead with boredom. Education institutions can change this scenario by reaching out to students and helping them figure out the answer to this question. Career counselling should be an integral part of education. Students should be assisted to figure out why they are studying a particular subject and what its logical end would be. 

"You should study BBA if you are excited by businesses, by entrepreneurship."
"You should study LLB if debates, logical thinking, sense of fairness excite you."
"If lending a helping hand kindles joy in you, Social Work is the subject you are looking for."

If the students are clear on why I think other positives attributes will follow naturally.

2. Reading Habit

The importance of reading habit cannot be overstated. From Bill Gates, Warren Buffet to Barack Obama, every person who aspires to achieve something great, to lead needs to read. Reading habit not only develops a positive mindset in a person but also opens numerous roads to knowledge and self-growth. Personally, reading habit has been the most valuable habit that I have developed in life. It has turned me into an ever curious and self-reliant person. In the current world, where everything is changing so rapidly and every profession is having to relearn, redefine and reinvent itself, reading habit (and thereby self-learning) is becoming more important than ever.  Unfortunately, reading habit among Nepalese, in general, is very low. Except for the handful of elite schools, no educational institution has the development of reading habit integrated into their curriculum. At least, my school didn't have. The books in the library were there for decoration and weren't supposed to be borrowed.

Therefore, educational institutions (even the higher level education institutions) should design and implement programmes to develop reading habit in their students. They should make sure that the library is utilized to the fullest capacity possible and that their students read beyond their course books. 

Well, those were my two points. I think both of them are very cost-effective and easily implementable for an educational institution. What do you think? Are there any others ideas that can be as effective in your view? Please share!