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2016 Kiin Festival Academic Presentations: Lessons Learned from the Nepal Study Tour


Presentation by the Post-Earthquake Assistance group

During the Kiin Festival (campus festival) held over the weekend of November 12–13, 2016, students who participated in the Nepal Study Tour (part of the Practicum for Convivial Global Society) gave presentations on findings from the tour. Participants were divided into three groups, and gave presentations on three subjects: Support for Post-Earthquake Reconstruction, Education, and Economic Disparity and Poverty.

On Saturday morning, the Post-Earthquake group gave a presentation introducing the situation in Nepal after the major earthquake that hit in 2015. As well as causing widespread human suffering, the earthquake also had a major impact on the country’s economy. When we visited Nepal, we saw many people living in houses made from reused old bricks and enduring difficult conditions in temporary housing. From our exchanges with UNICEF and JICA workers who were providing reconstruction support, we understood that better reconstruction is what Nepal needs more than anything at the moment. The earthquake caused serious damage to the country’s abundant tourism resources; rebuilding cultural assets that were destroyed in the disaster is also important for the devout Nepalese people.

Presentation by the Education group

On Saturday afternoon, the Education group gave a presentation on the current situation and challenges facing education in Nepal today. After introducing the Nepalese education system and its history, the presentation analyzed the problem of disparities between public and private schools in Nepal, the high drop-out rate, and language difficulties. Today, remittances sent from overseas make up 30 percent of Nepal’s GDP. Many Nepalese choose to leave their home country in search of work as migrant workers overseas. This means there is a strong tendency to prioritize English language education in Nepalese schools. Our discussions with people working in international aid also helped us to understand something of the difficulties confronting education in Nepal, as a country that is home to many numerous different ethnic groups and languages. It was suggested that migrant workers’ frequent contacts with Western norms might have contributed to the development of the progressive efforts currently underway with regard to gender issues in Nepal.

Presentation by the Economic Disparity and Poverty group

On Sunday morning, the Economic Disparity and Poverty group spoke about the problems of poverty and the economy in Nepal, concentrating on two aspects: infrastructure and development aid. Our own experiences on the study tour showed us that infrastructure to secure water, electricity, road transportations, and other basic needs is important for a country’s development. Nepal faces numerous problems with infrastructure today: from the long power cuts failures that happen every day, traffic light outages, the struggle to get drinking water, and the daily grind of traffic jams. For the Nepalese government and the international organizations working to improve the situation, sustainability is key. To achieve this, Nepal needs to work not only to improve its physical infrastructure but also to improve people’s awareness and understanding of the issues. Likewise, aid agencies need to do more than merely provide assistance: they should work together with local people to develop Nepal’s human resources and instill a sense of responsibility among Nepalese themselves for the country’s development.

According to people who work in Nepal, the long years of international aid have made some people accustomed to receiving assistance from overseas. An attitude of passive dependence is sometimes evident. In working to provide support to Nepal, it is important to ensure that cooperation helps Nepalese people to develop the imagination to envision their own future for themselves. In all three of the areas discussed—post-disaster reconstruction, education, and economic development—the key to progress lies not only with assistance from abroad but also with a change in the consciousness and thinking of the Nepalese people themselves.

Although the presentations at the Kiin Festival marked the end of this academic program, the serious work of thinking about the challenges of global collaboration still lies ahead of us. Many people attended the sessions and asked many interesting questions. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came for their support. Thank you!

(Huang Weijia, M1, Human Developmental Sciences)

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