The Failing Education System

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The tales of mass exodus of youths for employment and education has been a mainstream news for decades; often spoken about but seldom addressed by anybody. Recent figures have shown roughly 55 lakhs Nepalese youths are abroad. Most of them venture abroad with their faith lost in the national system. The education system rather than strengthening youth’s faith in the country, has served to weaken it further.
The enrollment rates for undergraduate level in Nepal is around 4 lakhs per year. If only ninety percentage of them is expected to graduate in four years that will amount to roughly 3.6 lakhs new graduates to enter the job market every year. Majority of youths join college aiming to get new skills so that they can be employed and earn a better lifestyle. However, the problem with the current education system is we hardly teach them anything worth learning. In four years of management studies, a typical student goes through all the core subjects like marketing, finance, human resources and so on, but the sadly he/she would gain very limited if not zero practical understanding of any of these fields. While theories ranging from classical to neo-classical times are explained in great detail, boring the student to death; teachers seldom put in the extra work to share the Nepalese context.
So, this leads to majority of the students earning their degrees without any practical field work. Internships and project works are done to meet the university requirements where some students even fake these with fabricated documents. Having memorized the key theories and completed menial internships in the name of practical requirements; students when they eventually graduate are shell-shocked. The quick realization of whatever they learned for the past years were meaningless sinks in. With a resume that has less bullet points than topics, they begin the vicious job search cycle.
While some graduates with sheer luck and persistence crack their dream jobs, most are left hanging. They do not hear back from around half the jobs they apply to. When they do hear back, is often followed by ‘you do not have any practical experience before’ and hence used as an excuse to pay you substantially less. Many youths of today face this dilemma, if they should accept jobs that pay you a few thousand above the minimum wages or not. They do not have the ability and skillset to land a better job and they cannot afford the luxury of being unemployed. Private companies are exploiting these vulnerabilities by massively underpaying a lot of recent graduates.
When the education system couldn’t prepare the youths for the workforce, private companies are also doing nothing to help ease them in. Most companies do not even have an entry level position, while they expect candidates to have 2 to 3 years of experience from the get go. They do not want to take the responsibility of taking these youths in their wings and guide and teach them the basics. Private firms are passively pushing these youths towards foreign migration in huge number. There are handful of positions for an entry level position that will pay decent salary and teach the basics to a fresh university graduate.
Eventually, youths are forced to either undertake jobs which is way underpaid due to lack of work experience, or unpaid internship after graduation just to get enough years in their belt so as to join a good company that should have taken them right after graduation. Most youths cave in to the glamour and the promise of a very good earnings abroad. The question arises: why would anyone want to stay in Nepal earning 15 thousand per month having spent roughly 10 lakhs in studies since high school?

Is the future so bleak for all Nepali youths?
Not necessarily, there has been some paradigm shifts in recent years in the Nepalese workforce. Few of the colleges have pioneered practical case based meaningful study approaches. Notable among them are KUSOM, Kings College, Boston, etc. Also, big private companies like Ncell and Daraz have been pioneering traineeship and youth development programs to help more young graduates get the dream jobs they want.
Despite all these, there are gaps imminent. Students lack practical role-based experience and companies want people that understand some of the basics and are not a complete blank slate. This is one area Skill Lab is trying to resolve. What if youths could learn about the job function and the intricacies of the industry they want to work for before even applying? That could in practice help both the youths and the companies. But it’s a big ask and a big promise to make.

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Skill Lab

Skill Lab

Skilling university students for jobs in collaboration with corporations.