There has been an education faux-pas in Nepal! Until now Nepal followed the traditional education system, introduced by the British during their occupation of India. Since then the Brits have moved on the change their curricula and pedagogy while we are still following them. As a result the Nepali students are facing a comparative disadvantage in their academic and professional career advancement. The truth is that we do not need university degrees. We need skill based degree holders, as per demand by industry. Since this does not exist, there is no certified skilled manpower. Of the fifty or so thousands graduates produced every year, how many are employed?
It is not a hidden fact that huge number of graduates are unemployed and even if employed, are not getting job up to their expectation. As a result they are forced to migrate for foreign country to find a career that suits their qualifications.
We know as a society that there must be change at policy level in the education system: Vocational training is required rather than theoretical knowledge.
Getting to the root of the problem
Rather than to propose cosmetic solution to this monumental problem, we need to get to the roots. Many experts on this topic will have many views on this topic. However, the real solution to solve this problem in education might not be found in education, economics or even politics. Instead we can find it biology. Yes. Read on.
Biology for dummies
In his 1976 book, “The Selfish Gene” Richard Dawkins introduced the educated world to a biology concept in the form of a very human story that helps anyone understand and any of man’s behavior either selfish or altruistic. Along gene as building block of evolution, Dawkins introduced humanity to the building block of anthropology, called meme.
As per Wikipedia,
“A meme, coined by Richard Dawkins is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures.
“Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.
The faulty meme in our education
Every elderly gives their blessing to the younger ones using the following way, “Study to the highest degree and become a successful man.”
Thus the meme is “to be successful in Nepal you need the highest possible degree and who doesn’t want to be rich”. A corollary meme is “if you don’t study hard and don’t get a degree, you will end up carrying loads as a laborer.”
This meme has spread so vastly that even a farmer from the remotest part of Nepal has a single aspiration for this new born child: not that he may become a rich or even happy, but that he gets recognized as an educated person having top degrees.
With this meme so rampant, so many colleges and universities have sprung up but no vocational training centers or even soft skill training centers have ever reached a sustainable demand.
How could we get it so wrong!
The corrected meme
No historic precedents suggests that the meme of the above magnitude can be changed but if we could, it should be,
“To be successful one must enter an occupation that is best suited to one’s nature: be it university degree or vocational training”
“Today daily wage laborers earn more than many degree holders. You don’t get a degree to earn money. You get a degree to complement your intellectual predisposition that will help you make money the way your personality was designed to. The problem is that most people are not intellectually predisposed and instead they are hands on, communication oriented, and entrepreneurs.”
Coming out of our current education trap is not easy as you guessed after reading the corrected meme. But we cannot stop trying.
Authors: Mohan Ojha & Manohar Man Shrestha