Both sides of the 'education abroad' story

While the prospect of quality education takes thousands of Nepali students to foreign shores every year, the reality is that not all of them are able to capitalise on the educational opportunities available there

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Anup Ojha
The number of Nepali students who decide to go abroad to pursue higher education has been on the rise ever since it was first marked as a trend a decade or so ago. Every year, thousands of Nepali youth flock to consultancies and educational centres in hopes of getting into a foreign university. Today’s students seem to be looking for something different in their learning environment and the eagerness to get an international degree is in itself a huge incentive for them to explore the outer world.

Many believe that going abroad means not only gaining access to the best education there is but also becoming self-reliant, an attribute all would expect to get out of quality education.

Anurodh Tamang, an A-Level graduate from Budhanilkantha School, is one among this year’s group of Nepali students bound for foreign shores. Tamang is going to Japan’s Asia Pacific University where he will study hospitality and tourism management. “Government intervention and the distracting atmosphere that prevails here are simply too much.” He says. “My sister, who studied the same course in Nepal, is very frustrated. My parents do not want me to go through the same experience.”

The fact that job opportunities in Nepal are scarce and a large portion of its youth population unemployed also gives those who can invest in a foreign degree an impetus to do so. Those who have earned degrees from Nepali universities might be certificate holders but they’re seldom handed down the actual skills and expertise needed to excel in their chosen fields. Oftentimes, people who are ‘trained’ in one subject are found working in a field completely unrelated to what they’ve studied for.

The Nepali populace suffers from a frustration that has led many of its youngsters to Gulf or other countries (as migrant workers) or to various parts of the US, Europe, Australia and Asia (as foreign students).  Going abroad is not a solution to all problems though. While there are certainly numbers of exceptional foreign university there are also a few that are opened for purely commercial reasons which means huge sums of money are extorted from students with only the promise (not the delivery) of quality education.

More importantly, many Nepali students are not able to cope with the challenges of study ing abroad as their educational foundations are extremely weak. Lack of proper counselling and barely working knowledge of the language used in the country they find themselves in result in many students coming back without earning a degree, and this after they’ve invested huge sums to get there. Ramrohan Timalsena from Lamjung a master’s student at TU, who returned to Nepal when he simply could not cope with the UK’s educational requirements, says, “I had dreamt of earning an international degree and then getting a very good job in my chosen field, the social sciences.” He adds, “It was not hard for me to get a visa, but when I finally got to the UK and enrolled in university I realised that my educational base was very weak. I could not understand what the professors were referring to. I could not adjust and cope.”

The fact of the matter, however, is that societal perceptions of the ‘foreign educated’ remain stereotypical. Many still take it as a matter of social prestige and reputation, and oftentimes students end up going abroad to study without even the most basic knowledge—the geographical location, environment and culture—of the countries they’re going to. High expectations are attached to the foreign bound, but a lot really needs to be done before all students leaving Nepal to pursue their education abroad are guaranteed the quality education they’re seeking when they decide to invest in a foreign degree.

source: Ojha, Anup(2013),"Both sides of the ‘education abroad’ story", The Kathmandu Post,17 April 2013

2013-04-17 | EducateNepal

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