A Grade 8 Social Studies textbook has nothing on the one system that has defined and shaped our society and is responsible for, directly or indirectly, many -- if not most or even ALL -- of the social, economic, and political problems our country faces, hindering its progress: the caste system! And the reason? It's a "small" issue!
Lack of basic science literacy and the desire and tendency to copy western cultural practice has lead to, in Nepal, adoption of some questionable practices. This particular one is the celebration of birthdays but with Roman candles on the cake and use of foam spray even in the presence of naked flame! Why are they an issue? Roman candles contain toxic chemicals and canister sprays, in the presence of naked flame, is highly highly flammable!
Short history of the way the education system evolved with the introduction of private schools and even a private University from after 1980. Sadly, education was NOT valued as a means to acquire knowledge and skills, but for the paper degrees. Besides, the institutions themselves struggled to provide quality education -- many imparted no more than just the most basic of skills, that of memorization and regurgitation -- as they mostly functioned as for-profit businesses.
These extracts from Unleashing Nepal describes how, through education, the Rana Regime and the Shah autocrats furthered their ethnic and nationalistic agenda, enabling the social, political, and economic advancement of the hill high caste Hindus (Khas Aryas) while oppressing -- and hindering the advancement of -- the others.
At a session last month with a little over four dozen parents from twenty-five schools, I shared three things they can do to fill the gap with their children's education in Nepal. Reproduced in the blog post are details of those three things and other important bits from that session.
Curiosity might kill the cat but Nepali culture and school culture kill curiosity in children as well as their innate sense of wonder they are born with. Education, quality education can change that.