Conducting development-related activities without a proper understanding of human behaviour and habitat is impossible. And geographers are those professionals who study and analyse effective living on earth, as the home of mankind, and plan the development works. If you wish to pursue your career in development sector, Geography is the right course for you. A dynamic discipline, it is known as the bridge between human science and physical science.
In the recent days, the course however, seems to be losing its charm — hardly there are 50 students in the Master’s and Bachelor’s level classes run by the Tribhuvan University (TU) and its affiliated colleges.
Geography is a combination of social and natural science, explains Prof Dr Bhim Prasad Subedi, former chief of Central Department of Geography, TU, adding, “It brings together people and place, and studies about them.”
Since Geography addresses diverse issues, Nirmala Kumari Suwal, Campus Chief at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus, Pradarshani Marg prefers to call it a “holistic course”. She elaborates, “It includes the study of location, human-environment interaction, movement and region. One can also learn about technologies — Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) — in this course.”
Hemanta Sapkota, BA IIIrd Year student at Tri-Chandra Multiple College, Ghantaghar has Geography as one of his majors. He chose to study the subject because of his interest in earth’s physical structure. He is positive of “getting to work as a planner in government sector or in I/NGOs”. That is why he plans to pursue both his Master’s and PhD in Geography.
But majority of the students are not as enthusiastic as him about studying this course. While four students in Tri-Chandra, and 10 students in RR Campus are studying Geography in their Bachelor’s level, around 10 students are pursuing Master’s in Geography in TU.
And Associate Professor Kishor Bajra Bajracharya, Head of Geography department at Tri-Chandra, feels the problem since school level — integration of Geography subject in Social Studies in SLC level is one of the reasons. Equipment required to do practical assignments are costly and this has also caused a decrease in the number of students in this course.
In the earlier days however, Geography had its own charm. He recalls, “Geographers divided Nepal into five development regions, 14 zones and 75 districts. Geography was regarded as the royal subject — as it was compulsory for future kings to study this subject.”
Its charm has declined since 1951 when economists were on demand than geographers, he further argues.
Bajracharya expresses, “For proper planning and management of certain area, there must be manpower having knowledge of Geography. But the government has neglected this fact, and there is less job opportunities for graduates of Geography. This has caused less number of students to enrol in the course.”
Bishnu Adhikari, who has already completed his Master’s in Sociology is currently studying Geography at TU in the IVth Semester. “Only after studying Geography, I got to know about various theories of society, humankind, environment, et cetera. I am positive that with skills and knowledge from Geography I can work in the social service field in a better way.”
Lack of resources is another challenge faced by the students pursuing this course.
Sharmila Rai, MA IVth Semester student at Central Department of Geography opines, “As the equipment and technology needed for doing the practical are costly, our college doesn’t have their latest versions. It is definitely a challenge for us to enhance our skill. In the job market too the employers don’t know the value of this subject and we are rejected.”
Lack of proper laboratory and classrooms are some of the problems faced by the students at Tri-Chandra as per its Associate Prof Rita Shrestha.
Students who have passed +2 in any level are eligible to study Geography at BA level. Meanwhile, students who have completed their Bachelor’s level from any faculty are allowed to sit for the entrance exams of Master’s level. Once they pass the entrance test, they can pursue their Master’s in Geography.
Where to study?
TU offers Geography course in the Bachelor’s and Master’s level, under the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. TU introduced the course in 1958. Currently the Bachelor’s level programme of Geography is available at Ratna Rajya Laxmi Campus (R R Campus), Exhibition Road, Patan Multiple Campus, Patan, Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, Ghantaghar, and at Prithvi Narayan Multiple Campus, Pokhara in Bachelor’s and Master’s level. The Central Department of Geography, TU offers Master’s programme, in the semester system.
Central Department of Geography, TU
A version of this article appears in print on April 20, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.