Development studies helping students help the country

With the core focus of the courses being economics, sociology and environment, students pursuing the course will learn about the socioeconomic issues of the country as well as the different factors of the multidisciplinary course which will sharpen their ability to work and direct development process.

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Pramila Rai
A resident of Jumla, Dan Bahadur Buda returned to his village after completing his studies in Kathmandu. At present, he heads the Karnali Alliance for Development and focuses on child rights and protection.

Buda, who has a degree in social work, says that, armed with his education, he returned to work for the social issues in his village because there was so much to be done. “A person can choose to work for community and forest development, conservative social traditions, or women’s rights. There’s no dearth of the work you can do,” he says.

As Nepal struggles through its development process, more and more young people are opting to study development and social work.According to Keshav Nepal, Coordinator at Nepal School of Social Work, the relevance of the course is very high.

“I believe that development students will learn to handle societal problems more efficiently. They will learn to be resilient and help the society. At a time, when even doctors have become mechanical, social workers are very much needed,” he says.

While the course is divided into the 40/60 percentage, the institute invests equal effort in theoretical teaching and practical workshops. “We make sure that before our students go for internships, they are well prepared for the basics of their work,” says Nepal.

Until some years ago, a degree in development studies was a newer concept. Social work was a more easily available option.Anurag Acharya, Program Manager at the Centre for Investigative Journalism, affirms that and says, “I wanted to study development but social work was the only similar course available then. Due to the lack of the course I even thought of going abroad.”

An alumnus of National College, Center for Development Studies, Acharya states that such courses are important to developing countries like Nepal. It is important that young people study and learn about the development factors, and not just in terms of building a career. “I liked the fact that the course wasn’t just classroom-based but it also incorporated field trips. However, there was a huge disconnect between the classroom lessons and the trips. Teaching institutes should work on making the course theoretically strong and welcome room for critical study,” Acharya says.

The Midwestern University and International School of Advanced Studies offer Master’s degree in International Cooperation and Development (MICD). Uddhav Raj Poudyal, MICD Director, says, “Through our course, we’re aiming to develop innovative and competent managers to address the need of current human resource gap in the field of development management.”

Students will work with a specific focus on current debates and issues in development discourses and contemporary issues in this field. Thus, they will not only be able to understand and analyze challenges in development but also use effective tools and techniques to overcome challenges and problems in the days to come.

Ukesh Raj Bhuju, Coordinator at National College Center for Development Studies, says that when medical professionals and engineers find it difficult to deal with village communities when they go out into the fields, it’s the development students who act as the bridge between the community and the technical people. The students know about social mobilization. They have knowledge of public health and environment which proves very helpful.

With the core focus of the courses being economics, sociology and environment, students pursuing the course will learn about the socioeconomic issues of the country as well as the different factors of the multidisciplinary course which will sharpen their ability to work and direct development process. In the end, it will provide human resource to manage the growth and improvement rate of the various sectors of the country.

Hence, the course will entitle the students to work in various fields, and not just limit themselves to being development professionals. An example is Acharya himself: He is pursuing the question of foreign aid and how the system of aid and grants offered by donors and international agencies work.

Niraj Khanal, another alumnus of National College, says that the course gives its students clarity and an opportunity to explore.

“And one can choose not just to be a development professional working in I/NGOs but also be entrepreneurs. From working at the grassroots levels to big corporations, such students can do anything,” points out Khanal who is the director of One to Watch.

source: rai, Pramila (2013),"Development studies helping students help the country", republica,30 april 2013

2013-05-02 | EducateNepal

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