Stalwart leader ensures overcoming organizational drawbacks and social setbacks- Ramesh Kumar Silwal

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After 6 years, with a delay of 3 years from the pre-scheduled date, HISSAN is going to witness its 8th National Convention on 25th and 26th Chaitra, 2078 with the slogan “Meaningful Partnership in the Development of Education: HISSAN’s Contribution and Responsibility”.

Although HISSAN advocated for plus-two education in the beginning, it now has expanded its gamut from secondary level to university level education and is intensifying the voices of private institution investors. The 8th National Convention will elect strong executive committee unanimously that will work scrupulously for strengthening the educational institutions to provide world-class education in Nepal so that our Nepalese students will be able to acquire internationally acclaimed qualifications in their native land.

Ramesh Kumar Silwal, President of HISSAN, is synonymous to encyclopedia of academics. He has vision, mission and plan to drive the organization smoothly. HISSAN has again realized his necessity for rescuing and reestablishing private institutions after the devastating pandemic. He has shown his interest again in leading HISSAN as the President for the next tenure. He has shared his accomplishments, futuristic plan and view with College Readers. Excerpts:

How will the Convention of Central HISSAN take place?

The 8th National Convention of HISSAN is going to be held on 24th to 26th Chaitra, 2078 in Kathmandu. The first day of conference on 24th will witness discussions on academics where the delegates from private, public and community education sectors exchange their thoughts and show the way for strong, trustworthy and quality education prospects. They will discuss “Contribution of Private Sectors in Strengthening Education in Nepal”. We will also hold sessions for vice chancellors of universities, leaders from political parties and line ministers to disseminate their contributions in the education sector.  On 25th Chaitra, the program will be inaugurated officially by the Hon’ble President, Vidhyadevi Bhandari. The opening session will observe the events like presenting organizational report, financial report and legislation report and discussion on those reports sequentially throughout the day. On 26th Chaitra, we will complete the convention by electing new working central committee. We have been trying to have the new unanimous committee and confident that the newly elected committee will work rigorously to establish HISSAN as the ICON of quality education providers.

How will you present the conclusions to the line ministry drawn from the Conference to have positive intervention in academic sector?

Education Minister will grace the Conference. We will put forward our vision on education from private sector and listen to their opinions. We request the concerned ones to identify the good deeds we have performed in the line with the government policy and point out the remarkable achievements we have made.

I think this conference will support the government and concerned stakeholders for updating policy and framing the action plan.

Nepal has been listed in the last 3rd rank in education according to a report published by Quality Education Index of Asia. This condition portrays that betterment of any single school or college doesn’t necessarily represent all schools/colleges of Nepal. We will have thorough discussions and try to convince the parties about present scenario and request for possible rescue plan. I have a question, “Will education be better with country’s prosperity or will the country be better by educational prosperity?” Data shows that any nation that imparts quality education is a top nation in every sector. It is a shared responsibility of both educational and governmental bodies of Nepal to generate employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for avid youths domestically by promoting education beyond books and exposing them to world-class curricula.

For quality enhancement in education, we both private educational institutions and government institutions have responsibility. Moreover, political parties should have more responsibilities. If political parties do not think in time for betterment of Nepalese education, neither the country will be prosperous nor can we stop brain-drain. Therefore, I request all the concerned bodies of Nepal Government to take attention seriously and implement the planned projects in time.  

It is evident that the promises made before gaining votes gradually fade away as the tenure passes by. How have you analyzed this scenario?

In our organization, we do not have such a problem. I have not found any disputes while visiting from Eastern to Far Western during the district convention and meeting with HISSANists. We have the culture of electing unanimously.

But while observing in the totality, this is a major issue in every organization that expedites voting. The big talks and fake promises all dry down after finally being elected. Some are unskilled whereas some are unable to give their abundant time to the organization. To overcome this, HISSAN attempts to decide unanimously on who could be the brightest diamond among all. To establish a potential leader, the voters should always analyze their dedication, commitment, time management, communicative & decision-making skills along with their knowledge about organization. Moreover he/she should be believed by market, society etc. Unity is more than individual quality in leadership. It is not an individual decision but rather a collective choice of different minds. Thus, the decision should be made wisely, and the leader should also step forward only if s/he is committed enough to bearing the post and responsibility.

While as a working president of HISSAN, you were appointed as the Member Secretary of National Sports Council. Without delivering the power to your successors, you enjoyed leadership of both organizations. HISSANists complain about your role as HISSAN could not perform various activities. How would you take your fellow members’ responses?

Any organization becomes a hot talk amongst its members and concerned ones either it reaches peak or bottom. I was appointed as the Member Secretary of National Sports Council at the time while I was HISSAN Chair. Before I took over the responsibility of NSC, all activities were normally functioning as usual and planned by us. I was frequently monitoring and evaluating the activities of HISSAN and giving my feedback to my team members. So, there is no meaning of making complains of my absence.

Due to two years of Covid, not just HISSAN but entire educational sector was at its lowest. This transition phase was hard to deal with. Digital learnings were promoted and eventually we collaborated with UN, Ministry of Education and Nepal Scout to give back to the society in obscure moments. However, we couldn’t give continuity to our past activities including Educational Fair, Physical Examinations and Collaborations due to unforeseen circumstances. Thus, we took time to come up with the alternatives and this could have been perceived as issue in public. Through this platform, I would like to assure all the members and stakeholders that HISSAN has not been inactive, instead it has found better alternatives to face the unforeseen.

How should HISSAN move forward in coming days?

Colleges in Nepal can be divided into 3 categories: Constituent Campuses, Private Colleges and Community Colleges. Data shows that 777 colleges are listed as private, 544 as Community and only 93 as Constituents; 70-92% CTEVT, Medical, Engineering, Agriculture and Management are also enlisted as private. Our discussion should not be centered towards competition among these three, but rather on how to build a strong society by aligning all three together. HISSAN creates an environment to upgrade the society as a whole by seeking support from government. Investment in private education is a farfetched even today. More than NPr. 3 trillion is being sent abroad along with Nepalese students every year out of which 60% students don’t seem to return to their native land. We can analyze the condition of future Nepal if this trend keeps cumulating. As an organization, we should have regular table talks to improve the existing state and create better opportunities for all. The government should take constructive criticisms regarding their schools which are behindhand private schools in today’s date. Private institutions believe in competition and have excelled so far in this competition. HISSAN should take all higher schools and colleges together for inclusive progress of the nation.

What role can HISSAN play to halt the trend of Nepalese youths flying abroad in the name of foreign study?

Nepalese parents take pride in claiming that their children study in an international college. Students mainly go abroad for three reasons-one is to work; another is to take citizenship of that country and another is to study. Very few have the ability to complete the study after going there.

As a matter of fact, any education abroad is perceived of better quality than any education at national level. The stance is overshadowed by hundreds of other factors. To overcome these psychological setbacks, the Universities in Nepal should work under planned calendar for entire academic year. NEB should find ways to abstain students from flying abroad and government should excite students about education in Nepal by creating a part-time earning source for them along with additional learning incentives. The citizens who return after abroad studies should go to concerned authorities to put forward their plans for the upward mobility of Nepal’s education system. They should not demean the knowledge with their ego of having studied abroad. A man should never question what the country gave him, instead he should question what he has given to the country – that’s when we evaluate ourselves for being a dutiful citizen. Nepal is a member of WTO and every individual has their independence of leaving the nation. The change begins from changed mentality. Hence, it’s not the role of HISSAN only but rather a collective effort of all bodies to abstain youths from flying abroad for further studies.

There are many umbrella organizations like PABSON, N-PABSON, AECoN, OPEN, etc. Why should any college take membership of HISSAN?

HISSAN is an umbrella organization of educational institutions from secondary level to university level education. PABSON and N-PABSAN are concerned about school education whereas AECoN about engineering colleges, OPEN to management colleges, affiliated to Pokhara University and so on. We have only few similarities with PABSON and N-PABSON: they run on their own ideologies and so do we. Comparing them with us is insensible choice. In a smaller picture, schools and colleges can lead themselves but for a collected progress, HISSAN is the organization they should look forward to. Our aim is to provide world-class education in Nepal and promote Nepalese education worldwide. Our stance with government is how we make Nepal prosperous in the sense of providing cutting-edge education.

What is the core objective of the Central Educational Conference happening on 24th Chaitra?

There is a false narration that public institutions need to be destroyed for private institutions to rise. HISSAN and I, both disagree to this narrative. If private institutions believe in competence, even public schools should compete with each other so that we are collectively thriving to be better. There should be a well-established chain of command. The educational conference is inclined towards generating ideas to make the existing situation better by facilitating ways to create and collaborate for opportunities.

What are your most remarkable achievements during your tenure?

Firstly, I took HISSAN ahead as a strong and unified organization having shared vision. Secondly, When I was voted as the Chairman, HISSAN was in debt of NRS 1 crore 32 lakh. I was successful in clearing the debt. Thirdly, I advocated for the rights of Private educational sector. I lobbied for solving some policy level issues of private institutions regarding examination, curriculum, etc. Formation of provincial act and laws of education are notable works of my tenure. Fourthly, I worked in partnership with NEB and Ministry of Education to voice the amendments required in Education of Nepal. It was the transitional phase of higher education of Nepal. HSEB was just transformed into NEB. I unified HISSAN and represented the private colleges in both the Education Commissions formed under then education minister Giriraj Mani Pokhrel and Gopal Man Shrestha and worked for strengthening the private sector. I incorporated the then the dissatisfied HISSAN members in the executive committee after nine months of national convention.

Apart from these, I have also brought students together through arts, culture, literature, sports and other extra-curricular activities which wasn’t possible for a long time due to Covid. Through HISSAN, we have given back to the society in countless ways and also assisted Government in policy making. 

I initiated the international education conference for first time in Nepal, organized by HISSAN. That was a high success and was supposed to be held every two years and a national level conference to be held each year. We could not continue it due to the pandemic. We have plans to conduct it effectively in the days to come.

HISSAN conducted various student centered extra-curricular activities and international visit, excursion and cultural exchange program to the teachers and owners. Empowered the teachers and staff members with training and seminars from internal resource persons. HISSAN initiated to provide soft loans to the pandemic affected schools and colleges lobbying with banks.

We provided more than one thousand vehicles to ferry the stranded people to their doorsteps in the outbreak of coronavirus. Rescue and relief for flood and landslide affected people was another humanitarian assistance HISSAN delivered. We provided motorcycles to the traffic police for smooth management of road and transportation. These are the actions that foreground HISSAN as a visible, tangible and audible organization during my tenure.

What are the unaccomplished plans that you had made?

Most of them have been accomplished. A major setback is being unable to conduct the international education conference. Physical ECA and Examinations couldn’t be successful but apart from that I have received immense support in achieving the set target.

How will the upcoming leadership be formed?

We are trying for a unanimous one. If we failed to elect unanimously, we will try to go for the most common among us. Nonetheless, we firmly stand on the democratic process.

The Central Convention is supposed to take after completion of district and province committee conventions. Some of the district and province conventions are yet to take place. Does it convey a good message?

Province committees were not provisioned in the HISSAN legislation before. We have made an understanding and amended the legislation and provisioned province committees as well. We became able to form some province committees and remaining province committees will be formed after the central convention. Regarding district committee convention, some of the lately formed district committees’ working tenure has not been completed. So, after, maturity of the tenure, there will be regular district convention.

Some of the HISSAN Central Committee members talk about including only some chosen and limited schools and colleges in HISSAN and turn into a club. Do you agree with their opinion?

We have not exactly said so, but there are differences in people’s perception. We should not differentiate the members on the basis of their size and strength. If we discriminate them in terms of their size, it may take negative course in HISSAN. All the members are equal in terms of voting rights. However, the strength of any individual college makes a difference. An institution having two hundred students and another institution having two thousand students as member of HISSAN have difference in their existence and strength. As we have amended the HISSAN legislation and incorporated the institution from plus two colleges to university level, we need to look at the strength of prospective members. Even, internationally affiliated institutions can take membership of HISSAN now. It makes HISSAN broader and benefits a lot.

It is heard that you are contesting again for the central chair for the next tenure. Is it true?

We all central committee members will discuss and try to come to a consensus for unanimity. All the friends throughout the nation, in my recent visit, suggested and requested me to hold the chairmanship once more for documenting the achievement so far bagged and institutionalizing the organization. If situation demands and my necessity is verified, I may come back again in request of the friends.

Finally, what are your suggestions to the delegates attending National Convention of HISSAN?

Firstly, I welcome all the delegates wholeheartedly. Secondly, I would like to suggest all the representatives of respective colleges and universities to support HISSAN in building a stronger organization. HISSAN is not only an organization for colleges, but also an organization for students, teachers and other faculties. Thus, let’s support each other by being a unified team.

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