Fiddler on the roof

The government’s latest ordinance making it mandatory for students to seek the Ministry of Education and Sports’ permission for pursuing higher studies abroad does not appear to be a well thought-out strategy. The new provision is meant ostensibly to curb the legal loopholes in foreign studies, but it appears to be actually aimed at restricting students from freely pursuing studies abroad. This means that without the ministry’s ‘no objection letter’ the embassies cannot issue the visa, nor can the government provide the facility of foreign exchange. Another provision of the ordinance requires scholarship holders, after the completion of their course, to return to Nepal or contact the Education Ministry, or face a fine amounting to the scholarship amount. This particular provision can be expected to curb the gross misuse of scholarships by those in powerful positions and allow only genuine candidates to compete for the facility.

Given the deteriorating educational environment and political instability in the country, it is simply not possible for students to pursue education in peace and tranquility. The ordinance would also be unfair to the current batch of students because their predecessors have already availed this facility with relative ease. Those affected by the new provision anxiously wait for the ramifications of the new ordinance as the scholarship-providing countries might initiate a rethink or even drop the idea of scholarships altogether, thus depriving the genuine students from not-so-well-off backgrounds. The new provision is also bound to affect thousands of students going to India for higher studies. The policy makers must realise that the creation of bottlenecks is only going to be counterproductive. Either the government should ensure quality education within Nepal itself or else it should try to ease the educational procedure for foreign studies. It should implement the rules without any political bias.