“Education should be useful and meaningful”
Ujjwal Adhikari, a Daayitwa Innovation Leader of the ‘Pariwartan: Ek Lakshya’ campaign shares about his passion for teaching and why he thinks technical education is important for youth employment.
It’s another busy day for Ujjwal at Janta Madhyamik Bidhyala with his students rushing into their classes. The school is echoing with sounds of children cackling from all stories; of basketballs thumping in the court; shoes screeching on the floor. The air is noisy – but for him this is all usual; the incessant buzz rather brace him with warmth. “ A teacher is special,” says a passionate Ujjwal eager to explain his gratification for teaching.
“They hold power to encourage and guide their students; students who in their shadow learn to identify their purpose in life; it’s a quite important and meaningful work, don’t you think?”
Growing up, Ujjwal participated in many community programs and joined student and youth clubs. He wanted to become a changemaker in his society – but he had never imagined he would be a teacher someday. Even when pursuing for his Bachelor’s he only had one thought – ‘ I need to get a good job.’
Currently, Ujjwal is also a Daayitwa Innovation Leader of the Yuwa Aaja! Campaign. And has been rigorously campaigning for the need of technical education to create job opportunities for youth in Butwal – through their campaign ‘Pariwartan: Ek Lakshya,’ under Yuwa Aaja.
“Education should be useful and meaningful,” says a concerned Ujjwal. He describes how youths are jobless despite having academic certificates. For him, Yuwa Aaja! is a stepping stone towards his dream of becoming a changemaker. His voice now deep, “although as a teacher I found a purpose for myself; I believe many people need technical education more because for them this education is an opportunity to redeem their quality of life.”
Over the years, adopting technical skills has become increasingly crucial for Nepal because it is one of the evident solutions for domestic youth employment in Nepal. Like many of his campaigner friends of Yuwa Aaja!, Ujjwal despises the idea of youths’ prioritizing the option of education and job in a foreign land.
“ I don’t understand why young people are always planning to go abroad for studies and foreign employment,” says Ujjwal. “ That shouldn’t be an option, but then again I also understand that it’s because many menial jobs in Nepal are not considered dignified,” Ujjwal adds in frustration. “ Youths need to realize the vast possibilities that exist in Nepal – they need to brush off their insecurities of what the so-called- society will think.”
Ujjwal emphasizes on technical skill as he believes it will enable youth to pursue jobs later on in life; moreover, he believes, technical education should be part of the school curriculum to erase the growing disparity between school-going children and children deprived of education. “ I think, schools should prioritize some classes for technical education – so that we can teach students to be inclusive and open to all kinds of work. I sometimes feel our education system is influencing the idea that knowledge can only be academic. By introducing vocational education in the school system we can begin to create a space for such knowledge without tying it down to any social stigma,” says Ujjwal.
“Academic education alone can’t help a developing country. We need to encourage innovation in the education system – we need to mold spaces for different types of knowledge in our education system, only then, we can lead transformation in the society,” he further adds.
“ We need to promote works in general – if we can spread a wave of excitement for the kind of opportunities we have in Nepal, I think just that can change people’s concept of ‘ there is no opportunity in Nepal.’ No one should have to resolve to migration for opportunities. It’s unfair for both us and the country,” says Ujjwal. He describes how we are falling into the misconception that – Nepal isn’t good enough. Ujjwal is passionate about making people positive about the opportunities in Nepal. And he believes as a teacher he is more empowered to do so.
Ujjwal who had never thought of becoming a teacher, now exclaims with satisfaction that he loves his profession. “ I love teaching. It’s a profession where I am learning as much as I am teaching. I believe a teacher holds power for social transformation more than anyone in the society.”
“ Our society values teachers; they believe in their wisdom. And I want to utilize the power and faith entitled to this occupation by making my students better people; I want to help them make positive changes in our communities,” says Ujjwal glinting joy of teaching in his eyes. “ Teaching has made my life meaningful.”