No to politicisationThe names of five nominees have been forwarded to Prime Minister Dahal for him to select one as the Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University, an institution that has maintained itself as a credible centre of learning since its establishment in 1991.
The names of five nominees have been forwarded to Prime Minister Dahal for him to select one as the Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University, an institution that has maintained itself as a credible centre of learning since its establishment in 1991. Dr Ram Kantha Makaju completed his four-year term as the university’s VC on December 11. Political interest has led to the difficulty and delay in the selection of a new VC, which, in turn, has hampered the university’s operation.
The five names were forwarded by two members—Suresh Raj Sharma, former VC of the university, and Daman Nath Dhungana, chairman of the KU Board of Trustees—of the Kathmandu University Vice-chancellor Search Committee. The three-member committee is headed by Education Minister Dhani Ram Poudel, who had been lobbying for the appointment of Janardan Lamichhane, head of Department of Biotechnology. Lamichhane is not among the five nominees but is known to be close to the CPN (Maoist Centre). Poudel’s proposal is strongly opposed by the other two members on the grounds that it could entrench political power-sharing in KU. However, it is Prime Minister Dahal, in his capacity as the chancellor of KU, who has the final say in the appointment of the new VC.
This case is emblematic of the seemingly growing politicisation of Nepal’s academic institutions. The country’s oldest and largest university, Tribhuvan University, where political appointments are rife, is infamous for its poor management and lack of quality teaching and innovation. Most other educational institutions in the country leave a lot to be desired in terms of offering excellence in higher learning and opportunities for scientific research. It is the few institutions like KU that have filled, to some extent, the void of quality education in the country.
KU is an autonomous, non-government institution that has grown over the years with limited government support. Yet it has played an important role in producing proficient human resource capable of excelling in an increasingly competitive world. Political meddling can jeopardise KU’s viability as a small oasis of (relatively) good education in Nepal.
As such, it is important to prevent undue political interference in KU. The two members who have forwarded the names of the nominees have rightly advised the government to refrain from flouting their recommendation. Prime Minister Dahal should pay heed to the advice and not use political muscle to appoint someone else—most likely Lamichhane—to the high post.