British Council Nepal hosted the Languages in Education Symposium in collaboration with the Language Commission on 23 January 2018. The event brought together policy makers, planners, administrators, teachers, students, NGO and private sector and development partners to share different perspectives on the role of languages in the education system of Nepal.
Nepal is now changing to a federal structure of government where powers are being devolved from the previous central government to the Federal Ministries, Provincial Ministries and Local Government Departments. Under the guidance and direction of the constitution, provincial and local governments will now have the power to make decisions on key issues in education including the medium of instruction in schools. At the same time, Languages of Education has been identified as one of the 10 key priority areas on the School Sector Development Plan (SSDP). With these changes and priorities, we see both challenges and great opportunities for schools in the country.
The symposium provided a platform for presentations and discussion at policy and practice levels, involving Nepali decision-makers and stakeholders, and members of the wider education community. The discussions throughout the day was framed by the idea that it is possible to both advocate for mother-tongue based multilingual education and maintain a significant emphasis on strengthening teaching of English as a subject; indeed the two go well together even though mother tongue and English are often positioned as pulling in opposite directions. A key focus was on real-life experiences and evidence and data from schools across Nepal. It also featured two separate panel discussions between among government and other stakeholders and students on the critical question of medium of instruction in schools.
The British Ambassor to Nepal HE Richard Morris while launching the programme said, “The Government of Nepal is publicly committed to improving quality, equity and inclusion in education – most recently through Schools Sector Development Plan (SSDP)(2016 – 2023). The British Government representatives in Nepal, and the British Council, are committed to working in partnership with GoN to help them achieve these goals."
Dr. Lava D Awasthi, Chairperson, Language Commission started the programme with a presentation on the mandate, current activities and future roadmap of Language Commission in Nepal. He said “Our new constitution states that every Nepali citizen should be treated equally so our education system should not rank citizens in any way. Our diverse languages all our country should be a reason for us to nurture and celebrate our diversity”.
The symposium aimed to -
- Create a platform for British Council and other education stakeholders to present evidence from recent projects related to languages in education
- Facilitate informed discussions on the role of languages of education in the new federal structure
- Provide opportunities for networking, information sharing and constructive dialogue