| May 19, 2019

Rebuilding Nepal

Rebuilding Nepal
The Open University Initiative (OUI) aims to take education opportunities to the grassroots communities

Since its inception in 2009, the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Skill Knowledge and Innovation (SKI) committee has undertaken four major initiatives: Open University of Nepal Initiative (OUNI), Nepal Science Foundation (NSF), SKI Inventory, and SKI Seminars.
Among these, the Open University Initiative (OUI) aims to take education opportunities to the grassroots communities, which have otherwise no provision for higher education in regular classroom-based teaching-learning environment. But due to dissolution of Nepali legislative-parliament, the Umbrella University Act was aborted at the voting stage in 2012.

Subsequent efforts have resulted in tabling of the Open University Act in July 2015, and the prospect for the establishment is now bright. NRNA is seeking a major stake in the establishment and operation of Open University with the aim to channel the diaspora's intellectual and financial clout for educational empowerment of masses, including the Nepalis working in other countries. NRNA is seeking significant diaspora representation in the Open University Senate.

Established in 2013, Nepal Science Foundation (NSF) is focused on improvement of the standards, inclusiveness, and quality of science education and to support S&T projects to help exploit indigenous resources and technologies. It has so far undertaken a number of people-based science education projects and activities in partnership with local stakeholders. .

Likewise, Skill Inventory project is geared to develop comprehensive database of diaspora professionals and their skills and expertise. Facilitating the integration and utilization of NRN skills, knowledge and innovation in Nepal's development projects is the primary aim of this database.

SKI annual seminar is organized in partnership with the Biotechnology Society of Nepal and concentrates on the challenges posed by skill migration from Nepal. Besides, a number of SKI projects have been undertaken at National Coordination Council (NCC) level SKI teams. These projects are largely covering health, education, and agriculture sectors as well as professional mentoring for new diaspora in the respective countries of residence.

Outside formal NRNA SKI umbrella, there exist other Nepali diaspora professional organisations working in engineering, medicine, nursing and other areas. SKI also collaborates with such initiatives.

With these various streams of activities in mind, we are prepared to develop a policy for establishment of SKI regional committees in five geographic regions, namely, Europe, Oceania, America, Asia and Nepal. Once this concept is endorsed, it will help streamline all SKI related projects globally through one channel. NRN Australia has formally endorsed this policy framework and is preparing to table it in the forthcoming NRN Global Conference.

Nepal is facing a big challenge in the aftermath of the April 2015 earthquake. This is a challenge for NRN SKI, to play a major part in injecting diaspora technical expertise for reconstruction. In the aftermath of the Donors' Conference, the Government of Nepal highlighted the need for skills-based resources from international community. In turn, NRN SKI professionals have extended help in many projects after the devastating quake. But SKI needs to coordinate with government agencies to network and streamline diaspora SKI efforts during reconstruction.

Initiatives underway

In the forthcoming NRN Global Conference, NRNA SKI is planning to organize a workshop to set priorities and develop appropriate strategies for future. SKI will also explore and request GoN to invite SKI representation in reconstruction committees.

On August 6, 2015, NRNA held an interaction with Parliamentary Committee on Women, Children Senior Citizens and Social Welfare, which is responsible for giving final shape to the Open University Bill. In the program the NRNA team suggestions for the improvement of the bill. In this program NRNA also made commitment to contribute intellectually and financially to Nepal and at the same time sought strong diaspora representation in Open University Senate. The members of the Parliamentary Committee also appeared positive towards that proposition.

Over an interaction program in Australia during NRNA-Australia Conference, Constituent Assembly member Dr Shekhar Koirala mentioned that SKI needs to play a 'skill-bridging' role in education, health, energy and development sectors. He highlighted that NRNs should have a major stake in governance of Open University so that projects are not politically derailed. NRNA President Shesh Ghale emphasized the role of SKI and that NRNA is working with GoN closely to ensure greater NRN representation in the Open University initiative.


The post-earthquake reconstruction is an opportunity for national development where diaspora skills, knowledge and experience can converse for rebuilding of Nepal, working through a SKI coordination framework. Towards that end, NRNA National Coordination Council chapters will be mobilized to take specific SKI projects and actively participate in the rebuilding process.

The authors are members of the NRN ICC Skill, Knowledge and Innovation (SKI) Committee