Time to ‘revise’ TU courses now

Lalitpur, November 26:

A linguist and professor, prof Novel Kishor Rai, has stressed the need to revise college-level curricula so that free thinkers can be produced. Endowed with the capacity to argue, analyse and communicate their ideas, the free thinkers will expedite the process of nation-building, he said. “Focus should be shifted from producing technicians to developing minds that can argue, critically analyse and communicate their ideas coherently,” said Rai at the inaugural function of the 26th conference of the Linguistic Society of Nepal (LSN) here today. Rai, the LSN president, added that the Tribhuvan University curricula have to be revised and changes have to be made in the teaching and learning processes. “Studies and research of utmost excellence should be carried out,” he said, adding:

“Social scientists should be treated with respect like other natural scientists.” A research on Kusunda language, already presumed moribund, is being conducted now, and an outline of its grammar has been prepared, he said. Rai called on the government to establish a Central Institute of Foundation of Languages dedicated to the study and research of all the languages of Nepal. Such an institute, he argued, will also make policies and guidelines on all the languages. The TU vice-chancellor, Prof Dr Govinda Prasad Sharma, said it is high time that the endangered languages were documented and preserved or promoted.

Dr Sharma said Nepali Language Resource and Localisation for Education and Communication,

a European Union-funded project, is being launched “to further integrate Nepal and neighbouring regions into the Information Society so that they can operate through Nepali medium.” “We hope this expertise will be further extended to the study of Nepal’s endangered

languages as a measure for preserving cultural and linguistic diversity.” The chairman of the National Foundation for the Development of Indigenous Nationalities (NFDIN), Prof Shanta Bahadur Gurung, said the foundation is making preparations for the study and documentation of some 15 endangered languages of the nation.

Recalling his exciting experience with the last speakers of the dying languages, Dr David Watters said the three-month-long intensive research project with the Kusunda people was “really a heady and sort of intoxicating experience”. Prof Dr Balthasar Bickel University of Leipzig, Germany, said the study of endangered languages must be taken as an integral part of all science. During the function, TU vice-chancellor Sharma released a book titled

“Contemporary Issues in Nepalese Linguistics and a Jirel-Nepali-English Dictionary.