Tulips shall grow

It is sometimes suggested that the education system of the country should be restructured with a focus on producing original thinkers rather than mere technocrats. A similar suggestion

came up at the inaugural function of the 26th conference of the Linguistic Society of Nepal that Tribhuvan University should revise its syllabi to produce people with a capacity to argue, analyse and communicate their ideas well. Indeed, the objectives of TU, at least judging by those set forth in its syllabi, do not seem to diverge much from such a view, particularly at the university level. It is quite another thing whether these objectives are being realised, and if so, to what extent. There is a long distance between setting a goal and achieving it. This is where the problems begin. Courses of study are important, but even more so are the mechanisms for implementing them. A focus on the line suggested above would require, among other things, an appropriate teacher-student ratio, a proper environment, a considerable improvement in the intellectual levels of the teachers themselves, sufficient financial resources, sound overall management, a proper academic culture, and a mental revolution in those who sit in government. In the not-so-encouraging circumstances of today, no amount of changes in curricula can be of much help.

The unfortunate reality is that even the ‘modest’ course objectives of the existing curricula are far from realised. Most of the TU students hardly ever consult their textbooks, let alone study them carefully; they have tended instead to depend heavily on guides and guess papers, as well as notes prepared by others, a fact testified by the greater sale of guides and guess papers than that of textbooks. For example, despite years of learning English from (pre-)primary to college level, most students still struggle in writing simple ideas in simple sentences in tolerable English. This malaise cuts across disciplines and departments. The attention and loyalty of most of the teachers resides outside TU; and for those in

government this sector does not at all look promising. Moreover, overcrowded classrooms and frequent disruptions of classes hardly provide a climate where would-be thinkers could find conditions for growth. TU stands in need of a change in its ownerhsip structure and of an overhaul of the way it is managed, including the need to make those in authority accountable for their performance, even to achieve less ambitious goals.