Hisila Yami: Fundamentally what went wrong is that we started thinking about education as an industry. People started investing in education-they would sell off their land and homes, so their kids could go to private schools. So much money was invested, but in the end young people just left the country seeking a better life abroad.
What should the new education policy look like?
First the state should regard education as fundamental right. During the 'People's War' our efforts in education were appreciated because our emphasis was on monitoring. Government schools need to be consolidated, facilities provided, and the performance of teachers monitored. Our education policy will be inclusive and will merge the natural and social sciences. The emphasis will be more on polytechnic education because people who get such training can be employed quickly. Kathmandu-centric education may not work for the rest of Nepal. Similarly we will link education with labour, because it is our biggest asset. The future generation will understand Nepali culture not as a feudal Hindu dominated Bahun-Chhetri culture, but as inclusive of all ethnicities, castes, and languages.
What is your stand on nationalising private schools?
When our war was on, we did not let private schools operate in our areas. Our emphasis was on improving government schools, but we also invested and made model schools. We had our own syllabus, we intervened in some private schools, and monitored to see if there was mismanagement. Our stance is, if we provide enough facilities and qualified people, there will eventually be a move away from private schools. There are ways to nationalise private schools without using coercion-by taxing them etc. I do not look after education, but I think universities may be the first target to be nationalised. In areas the government has not been able to reach, private schools will be allowed to operate.
What is your 'revolutionary education' (janabadi sikchhya) all about?
Janabadi sikchhya is a type of education answerable to the people. More than 80 percent of our country's population is in the villages, which means this type of education has to be rural-oriented. Our economy is dependent on agriculture, therefore there must be a strong focus on agricultural economy. The emphasis will be on creating manpower that is productive and science-based, and it will define nationality in a new way. We can't change the structure right away, we will change the base first and eventually revamp the entire system.