KATHMANDU, APRIL 26
As a pioneer national university with a large number of students, Tribhuvan University (TU) has national agendas to serve, responsibilities to fulfill and international competition to uphold. But does TU, in its knowledge production and dissemination, take care of the diverse universe, or demography, to make it a truly a national university?
Nepal is a tiny Himalayan country with diverse caste groups and languages. However, when it comes to respecting the nation's diversity via policy interventions, it seems surprisingly reluctant.
Primarily, Nepal is a castebased society, in which caste defines every walk of social and personal life of a person. Caste creates class, and in Nepal class makes up the entire socio-economic and political status.
A person's academic life in a caste-based society like Nepal hinges on his/her caste. For this to realise, we need to look into the academic climate of TU, both in its studentship and professorship.
Article 31 of the Constitution of Nepal (2015) has guaranteed the right to education till the secondary level as a fundamental right of every citizen. However, the constitutional and legal provisions say nothing about tertiary education.
A university in its fullest sense is not a factory to provide 'docile bodies', as Michel Foucault has rightly said in his prominent book 'Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison', for the market. A university must produce sovereign knowledge to shape the society and to glue its fragmentation.
A number of instances suggest that TU still uses the conventional way to produce knowledge. It carries the historic so-called upper caste legacy in producing knowledge and disseminating it. There is a deficit of diversity in knowledge production in TU. It undermines ideas of inclusivity and equality in education. It neglects research and analysis of the pervasive deep inequality in the society and unequal access to education in Nepal.
For instance, Dalit scholars are conspicuously underrepresented in every field of study at TU, including Sociology and Anthropology, which are directly related to the study of the caste-based society. What has stopped TU sharing the domain of knowledge production and dissemination based on the demography of the Nepalis?
Disparities in university enrolment of different caste groups, their share in knowledge production, and dissemination have an impact on TU's overall performance. For TU to be reflective of the institution's commitment to diversity and promise to nation building, it must be inclusive of the entire universe available in the society, both among students and teachers.
A version of this article appears in the print on April 27, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.