Last year the Government of Nepal and the World Bank signed a $60 million financing agreement for the Nurturing Excellence in Higher Education Program to improve the quality of Nepal’s higher education, scale-up online learning, and expand access to academic institutions for underprivileged and vulnerable students. After signing the deal, Madhu Kumar Marasini, Finance Secretary of the Government of Nepal said that investing in human capital was a key priority of the Government of Nepal to help young people in Nepal realize their development potential.
Over the last few years, Nepal has spent billions of dollars on primary and higher education. This investment in education by the government and the citizens alike has produced thousands of trained manpower who are now working in different parts of the world. A few of them are at the helm of renowned institutions abroad. But the big question that has remained unanswered even today is where are these manpower. During the Panchayat regime, education was not liberalized as today, and they were opened and operated with an objective to serve the nation by producing quality manpower. However, following the dawn of democracy in 1990, Nepal witnessed a surge in the investment in education by the private sector, especially in medical and engineering colleges. These colleges produced different kinds of students who preferred to study abroad, with and without the government’s support. Since there was limited scholarship provided by the government, parents started putting their hard-earned money for the education of their children aboard, many of them selling their land and other property. With the liberal visa policy adopted by a few developed countries, many students preferred to go to the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and other countries of Europe. Less fortunate students had to settle with lesser-known education destinations like Ukraine, Estonia, Cyprus. Again, the question that makes sense here is: did they come back to Nepal after being educated and trained abroad.
Many trained manpower that has left Nepal since the eighties have made the USA, Europe, Canada, and Australia their home permanently, and after settling down there they didn't find any valid reason to come back and work in Nepal. Why they are so reluctant to return to Nepal and work here? Three clear reasons have hindered many trained manpower to come back and work in Nepal. The first is a volatile political situation that encourages nepotism and cronyism in bureaucracy. Another reason to be reckoned with is salary, perks, and benefits. The last one is a labour law that discriminates Nepali citizens and Nepali who are citizens of other countries. A large number of Nepali living in the above-mentioned countries have already obtained the citizenship of that countries and are treated as foreigners in Nepal. Many countries including India and China have given special treatment to the people of origin and they are being engaged in the productive sector. But in Nepal, there is no preferential treatment for people of Nepali origin. Though Non-Resident Nepali (NRN) are given some rights, especially in investment, the government has no clear policy for them for employment. It is a big irony that after spending huge resources on their education, they are bound to serve other countries. Many trained manpower who have settled abroad permanently have expressed a desire to come back and serve the nation for a few years. But once they get acquainted with the time-consuming red-tapism in getting the permission, they get frustrated and go back. This is a bitter reality. Every year millions of dollars have been spent for educating children abroad but the money they earn after completing education is being invested in buying houses and other luxury items in that country. It means Nepal is losing both remittance and trained manpower. So it is the right time to adopt a liberal policy to encourage the people of Nepali origin to come back and work in Nepal. This will contribute substantially to the development of Nepal. Nepal has to learn a good lesson from India and China in this regard.