Conference Summary Report, International Conference Role of Nepali Diaspora in Higher Education in Nepal
The ongoing international migration from developing countries to developed ones has led to a large presence of Diaspora population in developed countries. Many of those well-educated and established professionals and businessmen have felt a need to give back to their home countries. The impact of Diaspora in their home country has been realized mainly in four different areas: economic development through remittance, investment and trade; intellectual development via knowledge transfer and knowledge application; social development through philanthropy and volunteerism; and political development via diplomacy, lobbying, awareness raising and political participation.
Diaspora giving back mechanisms have deployed various programs. Such programs are often initiated by individuals, non-governmental organizations, and governments of developed countries. For example, Academics Without Borders is a Canadian NGO; it is a new but effective program. It uses a train-the-trainer model to build capacity of the host institution with an enduring impact. Transfer of Knowledge through Expatriate Nations (TOKTEN) was designed by the United Nations to help developing countries bring talents home. UNESCO, in collaboration with Hewlett-Packard, has a program to provide grid computing technology to promote collaboration between home country academics and Diaspora professionals. The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellows program facilitates short-term exchange program between Africa born academics working in higher education in Canada and the United States and universities located in partnership countries (Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya). Examples abound, and possibilities appear immense.
However, what is needed for these programs to succeed is to have a shared vision of the Diaspora role. By shared vision, we mean agreement among all stakeholders (home institution, government agency and Diaspora sponsoring NGO or the governmental agency) on the role of the Diaspora professional and deliverables. Each stakeholder has specific roles and responsibilities in this process, and they need to be articulated and agreed upon at the outset. This approach will clear any potential confusion about the role of Diaspora in their home country when joint programs are implemented.
Given the vision, modalities for Diaspora participation can be worked out. Areas of collaborations range from short-term research and teaching visitations to co-organization of workshops and seminars as well as co-supervision of master and doctoral level students. Since the growth and diffusion of information and computing technology has been very rapid, many of the collaborative activities can take place at a distance on-line. However, accurate data are necessary to correctly match the skill sets needed in the home country universities and Diaspora expertise available. The government of Nepal and Nepali embassies located in target countries can play a significant role in making the data on Diaspora available. Nepali embassies can also serve as the bridges between Diaspora professionals and home country universities.
Existing universities in Nepal with the exception of Tribhuvan University (TU) are relatively young. Faculty research and student training at the master’s and doctoral levels are necessary components of a modern university. As both activities are resource-intensive, and young universities in Nepal lack required resources, the Nepali universities can greatly benefit from the Diaspora support to effectively design and implement research activities.
Governments of developed countries and international organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and UN agencies have been providing support for higher educational activities in Nepal. The donors have tried their best to influence the system of higher education. In fact, Nepal has experimented with three modalities or regimes of higher education system since the independence of the country from the Rana rulers: centralization, decentralization, and privatization. For each of these regimes to become viable and remain functional, external assistance was needed. While the earlier regimes were introduced mostly with American aid, the latest regime of privatization has been the result of assistance, both in terms of advice and resources, from the World Bank. One of the problems of such assistance is that the donor dictates the terms of the trade. Such terms can sometimes go against the national interest of Nepal. However, the Diaspora members know Nepal well and have emotional attachment to the native country, thereby creating a more beneficial mutual relationship.
The focus of this conference was to bring different ideas together, discuss on them and exchange the outcomes with the Nepali counterparts in Nepal to develop and advance human capital in Nepal. Since universities are the main conduit of knowledge creation and dissemination of the scientific knowledge, this conference highlighted possible pathways for Diaspora contribution towards advancing teaching, creating more up-to-date curriculum, and supporting research activities in Nepal’s universities.
Association of Nepalis in the Americas
Ambika P. Adhikari, Govinda Dahal, Basu Sharma, Dinesh Gajurel (ed.). Conference Summary Report: International Conference, Role of Nepali Diaspora in Higher Education in Nepal. University fo Toronto. July 7-8, 2018
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