Students to greener pasturesAlmost 1,500 Nepali youths are leaving the country daily to work in the Gulf or Malaysia. Most of them are unskilled and uneducated; their sole purpose is to earn money to survive.
Almost 1,500 Nepali youths are leaving the country daily to work in the Gulf or Malaysia. Most of them are unskilled and uneducated; their sole purpose is to earn money to survive. There are also those who go abroad for higher studies and acquire international degrees. Half of the 60 English literature students in my Master’s degree batch at Tribhuvan University went to various countries for further studies. Only one-third of them completed their courses. Three returned to Nepal with their international degrees, and the rest settled abroad.
Lack of faith
The number of students going abroad has been constantly increasing. In 2011-12, a total of 10,324 students obtained no objection letters from the Ministry of Education. By 2015-16, the figure had ballooned to 40,591. The student exodus compels us to reflect on two things: One, our own education system and two, the question of what would happen if the trend continues to soar. There are many factors that have led to this situation. The most prominent one is the policies of the state that have made all youths see greener pastures outside Nepal. No doubt, colleges and academic institutions have been mushrooming in Nepal, but despite providing their best services to students, the youth still prefer to go abroad for higher education primarily because of a lack of faith in the quality of education in Nepal.
There must be something wrong with our education system. The time has come to reflect on our shortcomings because a large amount of money is flowing out of the country in the name of education. In addition, we have to bring necessary changes to the whole philosophy of the education culture that we have developed in recent times. This is because it is leading us nowhere. The education system is merely being used to create extra layers in the already hierarchical society. It’s not only students who want to pursue higher studies in foreign countries. Parents are encouraging their sons and daughters to go abroad. Today, most families in Nepal have somebody working, studying or living abroad. One constantly hears of parents attending graduation ceremonies, weddings or rice feeding rituals in faraway places.
With everybody rushing abroad, the question that arises is this: Who will build the country? Nation building is a continuous process, and we need a very active workforce. It appears that the government has not introduced any special schemes to engage and keep youths in the country. In contrast, the government has been signing labour agreements with one country after another. There is little effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Similarly, the culture of favouritism is discouraging youths from engaging in productive activities in the country. The best way out of this is to focus on creating economic opportunities.
The dream to acquire international degrees is entirely influenced by the fact that it guarantees employment back home. Our society also makes judgments based on this perspective. Sadly, national and international organisations also prioritise international certificate holders over local ones. It is, therefore, necessary to hold an international certificate to have easy access to international jobs and also to settle on foreign soil. But it is a myth that international degrees provide solutions. Nepal has had foreign educated people at the policymaking level since the 1970s, but the situation of the country has not necessarily changed for the better.
One may notice that the country has been benefitting from returnees. They bring new skills and knowledge. Similarly, remittance has become the pillar of the national economy. But this has far more negative than positive consequences on our society. Neither has the remittance money been spent on capital formation nor is it stable. It is only taking care of the urban bourgeoisie. The amount of money that is flowing out of the country, and the social costs it has on our society are colossal.
It is high time that the government thought twice about it. Our endeavour should be to provide good education to youths and retain them here. It is equally important for international organisations to give priority to those who are locally educated. This is because they are here to support locals, not those who can afford to travel abroad. Perhaps the government should come up with this policy. This will contribute positively to the state and society.
The country should create a favourable environment so that youths will not want to go away. Such an environment is possible only through political stability. Political stability attracts FDI. It is beneficial to both investors and investment seeking countries. Employment opportunities will draw youths to different sectors. The older generation can use their expertise and mobilise the younger generation in the development sector. Moreover, youths abroad should stop using social media to point out the shortcomings of our leaders. Rather, they must actively participate in building our country together. After all, we all are responsible for nation building.
Kabi, who has an MA in English literature from TU, works as a freelancer