Seminar Report on Civic Education on Modern-State
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
18-19 August 2012, Pachkhal, Kavre
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal Office
has organised two day seminar on civic education and state-building
in Pachkhal of Kavre district on 18 and 19th August, 2012. Local
political leaders, civil servants, teachers from 14 higher-secondary
schools, members of civil society, journalists, students, and
other stakeholders of the society attended the two-day seminar.
There were around 124 participants out
of which 30 were females. The seminar was held in the Sarba
Mangala Higher -Secondary School and was chaired by its principal
Damodar Adhikari. Speaking from the chair Adhikari said that
state-building is an arduous task and can only be carried over
successfully when the stakeholders work collectively and there
is a sense of helping each other in society. He also requested
that social activists should focus on positive issues, that
is, rather than dividing the society - the attention should
be paid on uniting it.
The overarching aim of this seminar
was to educate people at the local level on the importance of
civic education and its role in modern state-building. Civic
education basically is a political education and there is a
great deal of urgency to inform people about politics that too,
democratic politics. Only a democratic politics can contribute
towards modern state-building by winning people's confidence
on it which is at its lowest ebb at the moment. Organising seminars
by including teachers from different schools can help to increase
multipliers which is needed to spread the message of civic education
across different layers of society.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of FES Nepal Office
welcomed all the participants and highlighted objectives of
the seminar. During his inaugural speech Dahal argued that active
citizenship is important for enlightenment and only enlightened
persons can judge what is wrong and what is right both for society
and the state. This is so because enlightened persons are self-directed
and cannot be used from outside forces. In that sense, it is
only enlightened persons who can enjoy freedom in a real sense
of the term. He also reminded that there is a connection between
rule, rights, and duties and we need to find a right balance
between three so that they can contribute in creating stable
society. The unaccountable politics is the product of this phenomenon
said Dahal. How can we contribute to our society without effectively
despite our different political affiliation with different groups
and political parties? How can we build up common orientation
towards state and society to translate democracy in a real sense
of the term? These are the questions that seminar like this
seeks to address.
Speaking in the inaugural session Kashi
Raj Dahal, a constitutional expert, shed light on the political
situation of the country and spoke on the reasons behind the
constitutional crisis in the country. He pointed out that lack
of responsibility among political leaders has put this country
on a brink of collapse. And today, nobody knows who is to be
blamed for such a state of affairs.
Three papers were presented in the seminar.
Dev Raj Dahal, Head of the FES on state building in Nepal,
Kashi Raj Dahal, constitutional expert on the constitution
and Chandra D Bhatta on democracy and its elements. He
also highlighted why democracy works in some countries and not
Hari Prasad Dulal UCPN(Maoist)
was of the view that each political party in Nepal has prepared
constitution of their own choice clandestinely but they do not
want to engage collectively to draft the constitution. In such
a state of affairs, it would be worthwhile to put all the constitution
on referendum and find out their acceptability from the citizens,
suggested Dulal. This will, to some extent, help address the
constitutional crisis in the country, argued Dulal.
Krishna Pd. Baral said that we
need to have executive president to control federal states and
these states should be drafted on the basis of geography. With
regard to election, we need to reduce the number of persons
elected through proportionate system.
Ram Bahadur Bohara was of the
view that Nepal cannot afford to have more than seven states
and need to adopt presidential system (with executive power),
mixed electoral system. The future political system of this
country should duly recognise pluralism.
Ram Kumar Kandel (Teacher) argued
that the future polity of this country should not be hijacked
by few individuals for their personal interests. It should,
by contrast, work for the benefit of broader society. Self-centered
politics of yesteryear has created numerous problems in our
society. In the same vein, the group politics merely to fulfill
either partisan or individual interests has created a lot of
fissures in society. Equally important is to bring revolutionary
change in our economic aspect which can alone help to sustain
this society. Kandel, however, was against the idea of going
for the fresh election as it would prove expensive for the country.
He also said that the current bourgeoisie educational system
needs to be replaced as it does not serve our interests. With
regard to the form of governance, Kandel was of the view that
given the current state of political wrangling - it would be
best in the interest of Nepal, if presidential system (with
executive power) is adopted. We need to reduce the number of
electorate from proportional representation as it is giving
Yagya Bahadur Khatri was of the
view that we need to move out of traditional ways of running
the politics wherein few people and parties captures everything.
He also argued that CA should be revived for 15 days
Ram Mani Sapkota rather than
focusing on the key issues of Nepal's underdevelopment our politics
in the recent years was dogged as whether to have unitary state
or plural states. Even if we adopt unitary system, there are
ways to introduce meaningful changes through it. The question
here is whether we want to bring positive change or maintain
status quo in society.
Shiv Prasad Upreti said that
the main reason why constitution could not be drafted in time
is that the political leaders could not build up required consensus
among themselves on different issues such as federalism, form
of government and election. He further said that we should focus
on ways to overcome from poverty, insufficiency, and alike.
Rabinra Shivkhan argued that
civic education should be included in the curriculum so that
it can contribute in generating the sense of nationalism among
youngsters. He was of the view that election to the CA is necessary
but the number of CA members needs to be reduced drastically.
He also emphasized that referendum should be held to decide
on the highly debated issues such as federalism, form of government
etc. He further said that we need to have federalism that gives
due recognition to pluralism. With regard to the form of government
- the presidential system (with executive power) would be more
relevant for Nepal.
Shankar Kafle blamed that our
political parties have worked together to weaken the state and
its institutions. All the movements until now are designed against
the state and we need to change this tendency. The external
influence (particularly that comes from New Delhi) in different
forms - sometime to patch differences and yet other times to
address the conflict, have had heavy toll on Nepali state. Federalism
that undermines Nepali nationalism should be discouraged and
federal states should be drawn by taking factors such as history,
geography, and cultural diversity into consideration. We don't
need to focus too much on 'ism' (such as Marxism, Maoism etc)
as this will not produce any tangible result. Our society is
much older whereas all these 'isms' are recent inventions and
there is no room for comparison.
Shuvadra Adhikari (RPP) argued
that Nepal should not have federal states crafted on the basis
of ethnicity. She also argued that farmers should be given seeds,
fertilizer in time. She also blamed that women's rights just
remained in the book and has not been implemented in a real
sense of the term. We need to go for economic revolution and
it would also address Nepal's social and political problems.
Due to lack of opportunity people have placed different types
of demand before the state. There is a great deal of importance
of civic education at different layers of society.
Those who have lost election should
not have been included in the constitutional process in the
past. This, perhaps, was the biggest mistake that we have committed
in the past argued one participant. He also said that the chairman
of the constitution committee and speaker of the CA should take
the responsibility of not brining out constitution in time.
Sarba Devi Thapa said that election to the local bodies should
be held - sooner the better.
Madhav P. Dulal UCPN (M) suggested
that Nepal should go for presidential system (with executive
power) , reduce number of electoral from proportional representation
system, and draft labour friendly policies.
One participant strongly advocated to
restore monarchy, Hindu state and opposed the federalism based
on ethnicity. He blamed that many donors are involved in spreading
hate message against some communities in Nepal.
Speaking on behalf of participants Ram
Sharan Luitel said that civic education should be included
in the curriculum schools and colleges. With regard to the constitutional
process, he was of the view that the political leaders failed
to prepare a common vision for the country which resulted in
the constitutional crisis in the country.
By and large, the programmes was well
received. In fact the importance of civic education and its
inclusion in school/college curriculum is must. Civic education
can create the sense of spiritualism in society and which can
alone unite Nepali state in a single thread. The discontents
that are seen in different domains of politics need timely address
by the political class. Failing to do so will create further
fissures in our society. There is no way that we can have equal
society but what we can do is create equal opportunity for all.
That said democracy should work for all equally. The most important
point that has to be borne in mind is that there is a great
deal of aversion towards political leaders in Nepal. This has
to be changed sooner the better.