The ministry must roll back its decision not to provide NOC to those who want to pursue non-academic courses abroad

Right to education is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. The state cannot curtail the right to education, no matter what, be it within the country or abroad. As the education system of the country is in disarray and the educated ones can hardly find any job as per their qualification and skills, most of them want to pursue vocational or higher education abroad, mostly at their own expense. Recently, even students who have not passed XI and XII, which have been categorised as secondary school education, are opting for diploma and language courses, hoping to get good jobs abroad. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) assists them by providing a No Objection Certificate (NoC) along with foreign currency exchange facility. The number of students pursuing non-academic or academic courses in foreign countries is on the rise every year. According to the ministry, as many as 62,800 Nepali students had obtained the NoC for studies in 72 countries till last fiscal. This is a near four-fold increase compared to fiscal 2013/14 when the number of such aspirants stood at around 16,500.

Against this backdrop, the government has now imposed a ban on issuing the NoC to those who want to pursue non-academic courses, especially in Australia and Japan, where a large number of Nepali students are currently taking such courses, which offer them easier jobs there. The government has also imposed a restriction on giving the NoC to those who have not completed the plus-two exams. The ministry has, in its notice issued Wednesday, said the students who have completed plus-two or equivalent will be issued the NoC to study abroad only if they prove with evidence that they will get enrolled in a university for tertiary education after completing the non-academic courses in foreign countries. Others whose parents are abroad and need to live with them will get the letter after being recommended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and concerned embassies. Government officials said they had to take this decision as per the existing law after many students, especially in Australia, found themselves in trouble following the Australian government’s decision to de-register some of its substandard institutes.

Going by the number of students opting for non-academic courses abroad, it is a clear indication that the government has failed to offer similar courses which could provide more jobs within the country. These courses are very popular and practical in the developed countries to drive their economies forward. The ministry has not given any convincing reason as to why it took such a radical move. It also did not consult the stakeholders and experts before taking this decision. It will affect a large number of youths, especially from the rural areas, who find it hard to get past the foreign language tests (TOEFL or  IELTS), which are necessary for tertiary education. Evidently, every move taken by the government recently has landed in controversy, be it the Media Council Bill or Guthi Bill. It appears as if it wants to take everything in its grip. The only way to correct the mistake is to roll back the decision that curtails the students’ right to education.

Discourage divorces

Divorce cases are on the rise in Nepal, something that was little heard of in the past. And it is not just an urban phenomenon, you hear about it in Nepal’s outlying districts also. In the hilly district of Ramechhap, for instance, the number of people seeking divorce has doubled in just one year, with 90 cases filed, up from 55 last fiscal. Today, both men and women appear in the court to file cases, although in Ramecchap’s case, there were 54 women seeking divorce as against 36 men.

There are many reasons for a family break-up. With women getting bolder due to advocacy of their rights, even a slight family discord will have them heading for the court. Social media and television serials are another big influence. And, of course, the long absence of the spouse from home due to foreign employment is inviting problems in many a home. Not much study has been done to see the impact of a family break-up on the family and the society at large. But if the experience of societies in other countries is any guide, divorces cause torment, especially to children. Perhaps, teaching school kids ways to cope with family problems when they grow up will help bring down the rising trend in divorces.