Educated, But Illiterate

Nov 17, 2010

The elite in Nepal have the status and the income, but have they any wisdom?

The educated-illiterate, I have come across these kinds of people so often in my life that it seems hard to believe that these people actually have any education. Sure, they might have a nice job, earn enough to feed their families well and might even be placed among societal elites, but when it comes down to certain things, I find them illiterate and dumb. I was always told that education gives you knowledge and a point of view you might never have known. Isn’t education all about making a better person of yourself and not just about making money or having a high standard of life, as so many seem to believe? I always thought education was about making a better you, a better community and a better society. And it doesn't even matter where you get your education, here or abroad, the educated-illiterate will always be illiterate.

Parents send their children to school to be “educated”, but at the same time, at home, they tell their children to only make friends with Bahun or Newar or Rai or Limbu. These are not the uneducated but those who hold jobs in good positions, who are among the well-thought-of in society. What kind of teaching are they giving their children when they advise their children to only make friends with certain castes? Instead of teaching them about discrimination, they are encouraging their children to discriminate from early childhood. Is this what you would teach your children?

111 Some of Nepal's most educated also appear the least wise.


It was different in the past, when caste and religion played a role in our lives that dictated whether one was thought to be inferior and superior, but this is not that time and it is certainly not what we should be teaching and doing. You send your kids to school to learn, so let them learn; help them differentiate good from bad, right from wrong. Your duty as a parent is to give your children a good upbringing and make them able to stand on their own someday, but also allow them to form their own opinions and take their own decisions.

A Nepali man in his 30s who is well educated, has a nice job, and is well thought of in the community will hesitate to marry someone outside of his caste. Even when this same man has many friends of different castes; he will hang out with them, party with them, but will not marry any of them. What did this man study in school? Just because his parents say he has to marry someone from his own caste, he will. Parents have opinions that they grew up with but as times change, it is our duty as children to explain to them the things that have changed; it is our responsibility to make them understand that things aren’t the way they used to be. Where is his education if he can’t even differentiate right from wrong and can’t even stand up for what is right.

It sometimes seems if it hadn’t been for school, some parents would have locked their daughters in their homes and left for work.

Girls especially have to put up with this all the time. Parents will send them to the same school as boys but won't let them be friends with boys. Be home straight from school, don’t talk to boys, what were you doing with that boy? A boy has the liberty to do anything he wants but a girl stay go outside if a boy called her? And if a girl is seen with a boy, god have mercy on her. She will be bombarded with questions: why were you with that boy, who was he, what caste is he, where is he from, what do his parents do, what were you two doing? It sometimes seems if it hadn’t been for school, some parents would have locked their daughters in their homes and left for work.

But it doesn’t stop there. They allow their daughters to study and get a job, but after a certain age, they will start to force them to marry someone. They don't care if their daughters have ambitions or plans, since they are not allowed to have one for themselves. This is the time when we think daughters are burdens to their parents, but they are equal to any boy. They should be allowed to live their dreams just as much as your son is. They should be allowed to be independent and allowed to stand on their own feet. Your responsiblity as a parent is not to get your daughters married as early as possible. My friends always said that I wouldn't understand because I was a boy, but we learned and studied the same thing in school, so why should it be any different?

Caste-based discrimination, gender discrimination, these things should not even exist in this day and age. Isn’t it time we change some of these things? I mean, what a waste of an education.


This post was originally published in V.E.N.T. in September 2010.