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Envisioning a Social Science Research Council in
Nepal Stakeholder Consultation Workshop
Rohit Kumar Nepali
Context of Education in Nepal
• Since 1990, various attempts have been made to
education programmes
Educational management, quality, relevance and access are
some of the critical issues of education
Partisan politicking and militant unionism of higher
education are few of the serious problems
This has affected negatively on the environment of
This has promoted the state of impunity and culture of
violence in the education sector
Context of Social Science Research
 The advent of democracy in 1951 provided a space for
producing social science knowledge through teaching and
Currently Nepal has many researchers working in almost all
branches of social sciences
But not many of these disciplines have strong academic or
research foundation
Beside lack of funding there are many technical, social,
political and financial problems
The lack of co-operation between researchers working in the
same field
Social sciences research in the university is becoming
neglected and marginalized
Context of Social Science Research continues.....
 The quest for money has led TU social scientists to work more
in private campuses, NGOs and INGOs
 There is void in the serious empirical social science researches
and quality academic works
 Commercialized education and consultancy research business
seriously hampered the academic environment
 The separation of research and teaching jobs and the
existence of a degree of hostility between those working in
research centres and others in teaching departments
Major Research Institutions in Nepal
• University Affiliated Research Institutes:
– Tribhuvan University (TU): CEDA, CNAS, CDSA
– Kathmandu University (KU): HNRS
 TU is the biggest and oldest university with four research
centres (CNAS, CEDA, RECAST and CERID)
• Private Research Institutions
– New ERA, NIDS, Shtri Shakti; IPRD, NDRI, SAP Nepal, INSEC;
Major Research Institutions in Nepal continues....
 Private institutions have some similarity in terms of
actions and initiatives
However, there are differences in terms of their mission,
operation and approaches
These are not academic research institutions
These social science research institutions are conducting
survey, study, policy and action research
As the action research and policy advocacy institutes
many of these institutions have their own libraries and
run their own training courses
Research Grants and Funds
• Foreign aid provides 60% of the country’s budget.
• The development plans, policy and practice, including
lifelong learning policy and practice executed have failed to
address counter poverty and social exclusion
• Most of the northern and some developed Asian countries
offer grants to Nepalese students for under graduation and
graduation programs
• These funds are channelled either through the Embassies
or through the project grant/aid offices.
• There are regional and international fund also available
periodically to Nepali on a competition basis
Research Grants and Funds continues......
 Donors have their own subject priorities and goals to support
the research initiatives
However, most of the donors want to support for enhancing
the capacity of southern research personnel and promote
relationship among institutions of developing and developed
Lack of support to guide research institutions for developing a
practical and effective course of actions
Need support for enhancing better understanding of the
reality of the existing society, social dynamics and root causes
of continuity of discriminatory practices, hierarchical social
structure and traditional mindset
Comprehensive institutional development program is
Private viz a viz Public Research Institutions
 Establishment of several private research centres in the
form of private NGOs, centres and institutions- post 1990
• Broadly these can be categorized in terms of their nature
of accountable management – private or public
• These can be classified by its dedicated human resources,
appropriate infrastructure, experience in conducting
quality social science research, competency in producing
and disseminating knowledge effectively and assured
funding for the research
• Nature of management has a direct relevance to the
institution’s contribution for the social science sector.
Private viz a viz Public Research Institutions continues.....
• Considering the culture of Nepal, nature of management and
leadership style of the institution determine the dynamism of the
organization, scale of resource mobilization and its availability for
sustaining the research efforts and its commitment towards the
social science research.
• Categories of organizations only in terms of research, advocacy and
academic may not be the appropriate and sufficient parameters to
make judgment about their qualitative output results
• Private organizations and institutions have comparative advantage
against public universities and institutions in terms of flexibility in
making decisions for hiring the researchers, selection of research
themes, disseminating knowledge and generating resources
• However, in terms of secured funding assistance for the research &
competent human resources public universities are more reliable
Private viz a viz Public Research Institutions continues.....
• These institutions have been playing varied role towards
contributing in the social science sector through information and
knowledge management
• There are many examples of ups and downs of Nepali organizations
irrespective of them being affiliated to private (I/NGOs) or public
(government supported university) sector e.g. CEDA, CNAS, IIDS,
New ERA etc.
• These organizations have gone through the golden days, suffered
setbacks and some of them have managed to come back to their
original forms.
• Private and NGOs involvement in the social science research has
been beneficial in terms of
• 1) opening a new horizon and perspective to analyse the social
• 2) breaking the boundary of confining to pure acadmeic researach
and encompassing action research, and
• 3) moving into evidence based advaocacy
Comparative Advantages of Universities
• Universities comprise academic courses and basics as well as
applied research, and thus provides students with substantial
interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of issues
related to social science
Use of classroom lectures, case study analyses, field surveys,
seminars, discussions and presentation
CNAS and CEDA of TU are the two institutes which are
undertaking research in the social sciences
CDSA and NHRS are two strong departments promoting social
Leading in debate, discussion and publication of social science
researches in Nepal
Challenges and Opportunities
 Just a few university teachers made noteworthy contributions
 Highly qualified picked up by the government and or by
private consultancy offices
A visible conflict among University Social Science Departments
and research institutions
It has promoted the commercialization, deteriorated the
quality of outputs and enlarge the distance between the
researchers and academicians
Promotion of social science research quality teaching should
be integrated with research
Addressing Ngoizationa and politicization of academic and
research institutions in Nepal
Challenges and Opportunities continues......
 Power of knowledge has never received any respect
 Money power and political/position power have attracted
most of the academics and researchers from the
universities and institutions
 The continued brain drain from the universities to private
institutions have been quite a challenge in terms of
maintaining the quality and quantity of research works
 To sustain itself the academic and research institutions
have compromised on professional ethics and serious
academic research
 Private institutions have privilege of flexibility of decisions
due to their autonomous status and time bound projects
with attractive financial package to work at the hard core
areas of social issues
Challenges and Opportunities continues......
 Concerted effort to bridge the gaps of unhealthy
competitions between these two groups of institutions.
 Self proclaimed egos of need to be balanced to churn out
best qualities of both
 Lifelong learning policy and practices to be made inclusive,
bottom up, participatory and contextualised to match with
the local context for protecting the interests of the
Culture of Bureaucracy in Nepal
 Bureaucrats theoretically no longer remained the masters
but the servants of the people
 Peculiar and ancient type of bureaucratic system carried
over from the cultural practices and hierarchical mindset
 The principles of Chakari, Chugli and Chaplusi continued
 The notion of Afno Manche culture still dominated the
bureaucracy, civil and political sector
Politicization of Bureaucracy
 The civil and bureaucratic system is
 being politicized
 indiscipline increased
 trade unions multiplied
 mistrust developed
 The bureaucrats gradually converted themselves into party
cadre to sustain themselves in the power positions
 Unstable political situation, poor governance and
dysfunctional rule of law with the constant change of political
leadership in the power positions of governance created
confusion in the bureaucracy
Non Performing System
 The Nepali bureaucracy is not only policy implementation
agency but also possess characteristics to support the ruling
authority by all means for their survival
 Bureaucratic structure has hierarchies with limited delegation
and rules that are defined in terms of responsibility but not in
terms of task
 Considering the absence of rule of law, unstable political
governance and politicization of the system, bureaucratic make
compromises to retain their positions
 The culture of Afno Manche on one hand has benefitted many
civil servants for accomplishing personal gain but has demotivated some sincere and committed bureaucrats
 Bureaucracy is known to be potentially competent but nonperforming since it is generally demoralized because of low
salary, unattractive incentives and limited career opportunities
 To establish and sustain the independence, professionalism
and autonomy of an institution - Council for Social Science
Research (CSSR)
 To seek political commitment of the government, avoid
politicization and ensure long term financial assistance
 To attain credibility, maintain equal and balanced
functional distance between the major stakeholders and
draw regular flow of resources
 To develop a “functional plan” by defining the concept,
system and actions for maintaining autonomy,
professionalism and sustainability of the envisaged council