Education in Nepal:Problems, Reforms and Social Change


by Alston A. D’Silva

Despite the claim that there is plenty of scholarship on education in Nepal, this collection of writing highlights how difficult it is to keep up with the drastic changes in the political and social landscape of this small but unpredictable country. With pieces spread across over a decade, the political commentary feels dated at times. Moreover, political considerations may distract from underlying problems. For instance, Martha Caddell’s piece that cleverly employs the motif of schools as battlefield – both metaphorically in the ideological sense and in reality by describing the political uses of violence on schools sites by the Maoists – fails to take up an analysis of unions and the labour conditions of teachers.

The more robust pieces in the collection contextualise education quite successful across historical changes. Pramod Bhatta’s excellent review on decentralisation critically assesses the discursive employment of the concept, combined with effective on-the-ground observations. Pratyoush Onta takes on the flip-side of the concept, with an interesting reflection of the centralisation and nationalisation of schools during the Panchayat system of the 60s by investigating history textbooks at the time. One particularly interesting thread that the reader encounters is a critique of the influence of foreign aid on educational policy and the problems of developmental interventions. The collection might point to the disciplinary narrowness of the field, but for an introduction to the issues of education in Nepal, one would be hard-pressed to find a better place to start.

Himal South Asian vol.23, no.1, p.71

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