Absence of leaders: Silent cry of the universities

Universities in the country are waiting for a leader for the past one year. Not only the vice-chancellors, some of the universities are running without a registrar. This has done much harm to the universities. Students are not getting appropriate and adequate service from the universities. Many students are at a disadvantage for their career and further studies. Absence of the registrar’s signature means students cannot submit important documents to go abroad.

Though regular staff manage the examinations, the authenticity of the results without the chairperson of the examination board will always remain in question. And what is the legality of the exam when there is no board?

Similar disadvantages can be counted for teachers. In the absence of the registrar teachers promoted by the University Service Commission are not getting appointment letters. New candidates are waiting for vacancy advertisements, but that is impossible in the absence of a Service Commission. There has been no regulation inside the universities these days; no planning, no implementation and no monitoring. The planning, management, direction and control functions have all become defunct in this one-year honeymoon period of the seven-party government.

Immediately after Baishakh 11, 2063 all the royal appointees were forced to resign by the students’ bodies and the professors’ associations. This was not a bad idea but they could not provide alternatives. This has been a major cause of the lethargic situation of the universities. Had they been more careful and responsible while making decisions, they could have put pressure on the government represented by their parent political institutions

to fulfil such important positions on time. The CPN (UML) affiliated ANNFSU attempted to do so but left the scenario unaddressed without any result. Other students’ wings did not even show their concern in this regard. The professors’ associations proved useless because it did not attempt to solve the problem.

All this is simply because the executives of those organisations do not have any idea of the repercussion of their actions. They do not have any vision regarding the value of education. They never prioritised educational agenda; they simply tried to please their masters in the government so as to secure their positions in the vacant top level positions of the universities. Instead of solving the problem of their own university, they remained busy politicising the academic environment of other well-run universities of the country. The government, on the other hand, became indecisive and demonstrated its inability to fill the vacant positions. All these scenarios have created frustration among Nepali youth compelling them to leave the country and seek admission abroad.

How can one trust the students’ wings, the professors’ associations, the university and the government when all of them prioritise political agendas in the university rather than education? No one knows how long it will take to fill the positions given the quarrelling among the eight parties to secure crucial portfolios.

Nepal does not lack competent professionals to lead the universities. There are many intellectuals who have contributed to higher education both inside and outside the country. Many intellectuals have research-based knowledge and information on education.

Unfortunately, the government knows only those who are around Baluwatar, Balkhu and Teku. Capable persons will not come to their doors and beg for a position. They are blindfolded by those who are incapable of educational leadership but tricky in politicising the universities. Among them, the front-runners will always be the executives of the professors’ association, which, in reality, has brought shame upon all the teachers because neither could it function academically nor make any attempt to pressurise the government to fill the vacant positions in time. The government should immediately start the process of appointment of top-level university staff without waiting for the interim government to be formed. There is no relationship between the two processes unless the government still wants to appoint political vice chancellors. Similarly, the professors’ association has to start raising their voice even with strong protest programmes if need be to appoint academic leaders and not political ones. Do they have the guts? The most disadvantaged lot — the students — should join them too. Can they do this together?

The silent cry of the universities for the past one year has led us nowhere. This only denotes that Nepal is not heading forward in producing quality human resources much needed in the country; nor has it any interest in educating its people in a proper way. A good visionary leader has always been in great demand both in politics and in education sector.

Dr Wagley is professor of Education, TU