Recipe to reform education sector
Political intervention has paralyzed every arena of Nepal today, and academic sector is one of those areas where political meddling is at its worst. The government ought to recruit at the top level of all universities outstanding and visionary academic personalities who can become great assets for those institutions.
The system whereby the ex-officio Prime Minister serves as the chancellor and Education Minister as pro-chancellor in the universities is absolutely wrong is one factor that has increased political interference in the education sector. This provision must be replaced by a system where an academic expert takes up the position of chancellor or president of the university.
Interestingly, the need for this change was also echoed by then PM and chancellor of Kathmandu University KP Oli himself. While addressing the Silver Jubilee function of the university in Dhulikhel earlier this year, he said that the “drama” of appointing PM as chancellors should end. He also promised to take initiatives to end the system by forming a mechanism in coordination with the government, education ministry and universities. Similar opinion was expressed by former Education Minister Pradeep Nepal about a decade ago in the 14th anniversary of University Grant Commission (UGC). He said that the PM should not be the chancellor because he or she is not an academic expert.
Indeed, the practice of appointing PM as chancellor can indeed be termed drama-like as Oli said. Educaiton institutions in most countries around the world are independent of political have this system. To make our own health and education sector strong, we can consider several complementary prospects.
1. The most important initiative is to hand over the power of chancellor and pro-chancellor to someone from academic background with a vision, high ethical standards and courage.
2. The second, and equally important, step is that all universities should move forward in empowering its own academic programs and should stop distributing affiliations of medical, engineering or other disciplines to private profitable sectors.
3. The third step is to launch a tenure track system to hire faculties.
In addition to these three points, we need to focus on two other dimensions to improve our education system: External and internal. External includes the role of the government in policy making, creating a better environment and providing resources in its capacity; internal dimension includes good internal governance, attracting top talents by free, fare, open and scientific methods, and utilization of sufficient resources. Lack of any of these elements will make it almost impossible for our universities to meet international standards in academic pursuits. To attract talented faculties in our universities to meet these criteria, the best approach would be to launch a tenure track.
What is tenure track?
Tenure track is a “fixed-term” contract - usually 5 to 6 years - assured with a view of a permanent position (tenured) at a higher level only based on positive evaluation. In this process, faculty application – usually electronic application - is invited. After screening the pool of applications, only the best and selected candidates (5 to 10) are interviewed over the phone or video conference in the first phase of interview. The successful candidates (3 to 5) from the first interview are invited for on-site interview. The candidate will give a public teaching demonstration and/or research presentation in front of the students, search committee and other faculties. After a rigorous evaluation of his/her performance, research proposal, teaching philosophy, publications, and recommendation letters, the best candidate is appointed to the position, and to other subsequent candidates, if the he or she does not take the position. It takes about 6 months to 1 year to complete the hiring process. If they do not find a suitable candidate, the department or search committee has an authority to cancel or postpone the selection process for the following academic year.
Why is tenure track important?
The tenure track approach with a PhD (even better with a postdoc) not only acquires advanced knowledge in his/her field – especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) –but also can establish international scientific collaborations that can lead new projects. Furthermore, international collaborations can also lead to significant impact on research work, exposure to students and thus opportunity to transfer new skills. Possibility of such networking and collaboration is very unlikely possible to faculties without PhD degree and lack of international exposure. Therefore, it is very important to create a network hub for talented faculties, students, entrepreneur and people of all kinds.
(Neupane is an alumnus of Tribhuvan University and holds Ph.D. in Chemistry. He tweets at @koshalnp)
We take pride in Sagarmatha and also Bhagwan Buddha. We should introspect as to what has been “our” contribution in the making of both. The tallest mountain landmark is the outcome of tectonic push against the bigger landmass creating the upward drift that created the Himalaya. Prince Siddhartha, on the other hand, was born 2556 years ago or 23 centuries before Nepal got unified under Prithivi Narayan Shah. Siddhartha is believed to have attained enlightenment at the age of 35 or around six years after leaving Kapilvastu.
All this pointed that the election will be held with public support despite efforts by those against it. But all that changed after three people were killed in Rajbiraj after the police opened fire on Madhesi Front cadres who were ‘hurling petrol bombs’ toward the venue where UML Chairman KP Oli had just finished his short address.
Men at work
Currently the larger part of our urban area resembles a war zone with bulldozers and mechanical diggers running amok. What is left behind the unfinished work typically consists of mangled water pipes, jumbled up and torn telephone and electric wires, mounds of dug earth and gravel heaps, unfilled ditches and incomplete manholes.
A great aviator in the Nepali skies
Deepak was not only a competent pilot but also someone who had the inner strength to always remain cool, calm, and collected. That nature helped him make a total of three emergency landings in his career as a pilot when he suddenly had to deal with technical malfunctions while flying an aircraft.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.