Student movement in Nepal: Issues and responsibilities

Once upon a time, the ruler’s speech became the law. People’s voices were banned by his order. The people had to keep grinding in his tyranny. Yes, against the same ruler Gangalal, the Chinese quiz’s said, ‘Janatamara ruler Murdabad!’ Why would he have digested this speech of planting arrows on the navel of the murderous ruler? He was hanged in exchange for speech. For the sake of achieving democracy, the student movement of Nepal has lost its great warrior classmate. On the night of history, these rebellious student leaders chose to die, carrying the consciousness of rebellion.

The movement had to fight hard, united and organized for the liberation and independence of the people of the ground, when looking directly at power was like planting a twinkle in one’s own eyes. In this connection, the anti-national unequal treaty should be abolished, the Gorkha recruitment center should be completely closed, The All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union (ANNFSU) was formed under the leadership of Atmaram Kharel on May 14, 1965 through a valley-wide inter-college students’ conference demanding the right to open the SWU and the unconditional release of the detained students. In celebration of this historic initiative, the student community started celebrating ‘May 1’ as Student Day. Since then, on the one hand, the student movement has been carried forward, falling into the grip of division and on the other hand, achieving democratic education, protecting nationalism and democracy and people’s livelihood, and carrying various pro-people issues.

The student movement proved itself to be the vanguard of every progressive political movement in the country and proved itself to be superior in the role of pressure, awakening and counter-insurgency. The establishment of a federal democratic republic was made possible as a sequel to all the roles mentioned and the rights and freedoms of the people were documented in the constitution. It became the daily routine of this movement to raise voice for the rights of the students by warning against irregularities, and injustice to the students in schools, colleges and universities. From political training, awareness and advocacy of democracy to taking decisive initiatives to provide up to 45 percent discount to students in the transport sector, it was possible through the student movement. Therefore, the history of educational and political change in Nepal is incomplete without the history of the student movement.

Today, the fight, movement and campaign of the student community has to be started in a new way. Inequality in education has increased. Unemployment has created a terrible situation of youth migration. Geopolitical complexity has increased. Socio-political and economic negativity is rampant and the society is going through a dismal phase. From the diplomatic balance, the economic and cultural aspects of the society are weakening. The background of all such problems has become crony capitalism. Therefore, it is necessary to re-advance the student movement in a strong and systematic manner in principle, politically and organizationally for the implementation of the socialism-oriented system which has been documented in the constitution. This article attempts to discuss today’s burning questions that the student movement must raise.

Accessible and free education: 

The Constitution of Nepal has defined education as a fundamental right, while education up to the basic level is compulsory and education up to the secondary level is free. In practice, however, that doesn’t seem so. The state itself is promoting dual education policy by allowing them to run the business in the name of plus two from the loot in the name of pre-school. Fighting against it in an organized manner and not allowing education to become a commodity of trade has become the main strategy of our movement. On the day the student movement abandons this issue, there will be an even greater commercialization of education and the children of the lower class people will be deprived of the opportunity to earn education.

Education linking knowledge, skills, labor and production:

Students passing out from the university should at least become skilled manpower for any field or become eligible to do any enterprise in their country. For this, there is a need for radical changes in the academic curriculum of educational institutions and universities. Our students become skilled only when the curriculum becomes competitive on a changing knowledge, science, technology, change and global scale. Now the students who have left the university should stop the queue to go to foreign lands for employment. The state is selling Nepali youth like modern slaves of the 21st century, which should be put to an end. The labour of the youth should be stopped at throwaway prices.

Why are the certificates issued by our education becoming a waste of paper? Is it possible to carry this situation into the practice of a socialist economic, political and cultural system as envisaged by our Constitution? Will the country become prosperous if education, the basic element required for the socialist system, is not linked to knowledge, labor, skills, employment and production? It is the responsibility of the student movement to make the state responsible by creating pressure and awareness for quality, skilled and employable education.

An aerial view of Kathmandu city (Photo by Jayant Chaudhary on Unsplash)

Responsibility of building an equitable society:

Nepali society is still struggling with high discrimination and various oppressions. The time has come to build a discrimination-free brain. Our education system does not deeply grasp this seriousness. Initiatives to build an equitable and equitable society have not been taken. Young students will have to become the carriers of the voice of resistance to breaking down the walls of all unjust social structures such as gender, ethnic, class, regional discrimination and oppression. Student organizations should organize and encourage such young students to fulfill the responsibility of building an equitable society.

Awakening patriotism: On the one hand, the expansionists are harassing us on the borders of the country, and on the other hand, they are making many moves to establish their colonies in Nepal in the new forms and names of globalized capitalism that impoverish the majority of the grassroots for the benefit of certain multinational companies. There has been an invisible external attack on our educational curriculum design and language and culture. In all these circumstances, the student organizations should discuss and discuss the intentions of these geopolitical activities and inform the people about the reality. We have to agitate and fight for patriotic freedom.

Environmental Protection:

Our natural resources are being exploited a lot due to the competition among a handful of elite people to become rich and the unhealthy competition of rich countries. Today, the rapid increase in carbon emissions in the world is creating a terrible situation of environmental pollution. Only if we are able to restore the rhythm of the environment that it has unbalanced, will our future children breathe a sigh of relief. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of shortening the life of the earth. It is the responsibility of the organized student community to spread new awareness and awareness needed to solve the environmental crisis. We have to create a broader discussion, debate and a path to new change to get rid of this complex crisis of the world. Students’ organisations will have to prepare themselves for the same.

Initiatives in social transformation:

Even in today’s era, Nepali society is suffering from superstition and stereotypes. On the one hand, in the name of tradition, various evils are buried in the society, while on the other hand, brokers and today’s financial capitalism are creating a consumerist culture. Therefore, the student organizations will have to spread progressive awareness in the society. Every darkness of the society has to be broken and beautiful light should be shown.

Science and Technology Friendly Schools:

Our schools are still not teaching students to look at every event and environment with scientific vision, logic and evidence. As a result, students with university degrees also remember dhami-jhankri before the doctor when they fall ill. The use of the latest technology in our schools is minimal. Students are also confused about the general knowledge of computers. It is imperative for the student organizations to struggle for the achievement of all these subjects.

Attempts are being made to make petty comments and defame the students who are engaged in the organization that the justification of the student organization is over in the guise of individualistic, populist and regressive ideas spreading in the country’s backward politics and community. They believe that it would be easier to attack the republican system if the student community could be separated from political consciousness. Because, they know that it is the pioneering student community that closely observes the tactics of power, debates and advocates its activities, and launches movements and creates awareness among the masses.

The progressive student movement should start attacking all kinds of anti-student movement concepts, commentaries and propaganda that are being created in this way. It is necessary to make that attack in a new way ideologically, educational programs, politically and organizationally, with the refutation of all wrong ideas spread against the interests of the student community. Science and technology have become the main productive forces of today’s society.

Under the new circumstances, it is imperative for us to make organizational activities and movements relevant to a new era. There is no alternative but to move forward by embracing the golden times of the student movement born with the responsibility of fulfilling such a complex need in history. The world has to explain that this change to the republican system was not a game of a circus team. It is necessary for all the progressive, socialist and patriotic justice-loving student communities to work vigorously again in the true sense to illuminate the weapon of the real movement of ‘May 1’ for educational advancement and political awareness.

Written by Arati Lama

National President, ANNFSU, Nepal