Closing the Valley’s schools during Modi’s visit is nonsense.

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Why should the Government of Nepal declare two days holiday for the schools in the Valley during the visit of Prime Minister Modi? Isn’t this just sheer nonsense? I mean we all understand the historical significance of having the Prime Minister of India visiting Nepal after such a huge gap. We also understand the logistic challenges on hosting him, including the heavy security arrangements that must be ensured for the occasion. The traffic of the Valley will be badly affected but is it really necessary to close the schools? What’s the reason for? Avoiding the “unnecessary” movement of private schools buses or rather celebrating and honoring Prime Minister’s Modi’s visit? If the latter is the answer, maybe students were asked to stay home in order to prepare a special essay about the event…

Jokes apart, can the country afford the luxury to shut down the Capital’s schools just because of a state visit of a foreign prime minister? The national education system is already affected by a myriad of problems including, among others, too few days of effective schools ‘opening.

Even recently I was surprised to hear that during the FIFA World Cup the level of absenteeism at college level dramatically shot up because students could not make it in the classroom because they had to stay awake in the nights to watch the matches.

I could hardly justify this behavior even if Nepal team was playing in the tournament but it wasn’t. I was even more amazed that the morning following the World Cup Final, most of the colleges were closed: how would the students and possibly the teachers be able to attend classroom at 7am when the match finished so late?

Isn’t it a bit too much? Don’t you think we need a totally different mindset in order to turn around the country? What is the work ethic for Nepali people? Do the Nepali people enjoy when foreigners say that they are nice folk but a bit too casual in terms of work’s attitude?

Look at countries like Singapore or Korea. They became what they are today because of a very strict and rigorous approach to work. They are countries that fifty years ago, were in shambles and they have to construct everything from scratch. Only a strong determination and perseverance pushed them to the levels they reached today. Till now they are keeping working very hard to maintain their status and to some extents, when you see seventy years old Singaporeans cleaning the subway stations, you understand that maybe this approach went a bit too far.

It is also true that culture can explained a lot. Maybe Nepali’s way to look at the things is quite different, maybe the nation prefers to take it easy rather than living to work. After all, capitalism and industrialization bring a lot of “side” effects on the people’s way of living, including excessive stress and unhappiness.

Maybe we should think twice and go against the standard industrialization process. In Europe there was a furor when the then French Prime Minister Jospin pushed the private sector to allow their employees a working week of only 35 hours.  Was Jospin right to allow the French people to enjoy a better balanced life? It is hard to say but definitely big achievements can be accomplished by working hard. You can work from home, you can have all the flexibility you want but unless you push yourself hard, nothing can be achieved.

No one said that Nepal should have the same work attitudes of Singaporeans but at the same time no one should complain about the social economic development of the country. No one should believe that material prosperity can be achieved through shortcuts or foreign aid alone.

As long as we are happy with the current situation of the country, let’s shut down the schools of the Capital during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Nepal. After all, we are not only loosing precious time, we are also shaping the future citizens of this nation with the “right” attitudes towards work. Does anyone care about it?


Let’s stop looking at Singapore as a model of development.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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