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Exploring civics and citizenship education in Nepal : from policy to practice

Shah, R ORCID: 0000-0002-9938-1389 2021 , 'Exploring civics and citizenship education in Nepal : from policy to practice', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Civics and citizenship education has increasingly been identified in a range of global studies as an important component in educating young people for democratic citizenship. This qualitative thesis focuses upon analysing the nature and role of civics and citizenship education at the basic education level in Nepal that seeks to promote 9-13-year-old students’ democratic citizenship. More specifically, the thesis explores the articulation and enactment of themes related to national identity and democracy, cultural diversity and global education.
Bowe et al.’s (1992) policy cycle approach (with modifications by Ledger et al., 2015) provided a conceptual framework for the study. The policy cycle approach consists of three contexts: the context of influence, the context of text production and the context of practice. In this study, the policy cycle was analysed at the macro-, meso- and micro-levels of the civics and citizenship curriculum policy process. The macro-level incorporates national policy framing contexts, the meso-level concerns intermediary contexts (for example textbooks) and the micro-level refers to enactments of practice in schools by teachers. The three auxiliary research questions were developed around these contexts and levels of the policy cycle.
The research employed a social constructivist paradigm since it aimed to analyse notions of national identity and democracy, cultural diversity and global education that were embodied in the three units of analysis: curriculum policy documents, social studies textbooks and teachers’ perspectives. Thematic analysis of the social studies curriculum policy documents was undertaken to understand policy objectives and recommendations related to civics and citizenship education at the context of influence. Similarly, qualitative content analysis of the social studies textbooks was conducted to understand how the key themes are communicated through the content (language and imagery) at the context of policy text production and how policy is translated into practice by curriculum intermediaries and textbook treatment of key citizenship education themes. A visual analysis method was applied to understand how civics and citizenship education themes are communicated through the images of the selected textbooks. Lastly, a thematic analysis of the interview data was undertaken to explore perceptions of participant Nepalese teachers regarding the implementation of the Nepalese social studies basic education level curriculum and textbooks.
The key findings of this study have not found relationships between the various contexts of influence in Nepal to have been quite as dynamic as in some other studies that have applied the policy cycle model. The emphasis of educational policies has been primarily to socialise and nurture responsible citizens who are law-abiding, subscribe to Nepalese social and moral values and demonstrate national pride. There is significantly less emphasis upon active citizenship, community involvement and more experiential forms of citizenship education. Textbooks and teaching processes mostly emphasise the acquisition of knowledge instead of the integration of knowledge, skills and participation. The study demonstrates that contested notions of national identity (for example, around the respective status of the Nepali language and indigenous languages) have played a significant role in shaping the discourse of civics and citizenship education in Nepal. The textbooks depict relatively idealised and theoretical models of Nepalese politics and society. Teachers as implementers of curriculum and textbooks are central at the context of practice. However, they can be constrained by issues such as their beliefs, expertise, preferred teaching methodologies, interpretation of the curriculum and textbooks and diverse and challenging cohorts of students all of which can serve as obstacles in the effective enactment of civics and citizenship curriculum policy.
Nepal is in a tentative, formative and emerging phase in its political development. Hence approaches to civics and citizenship education as outlined in the policies, curricula and textbooks are understandably cautious, safe and grasping for consensus, stability and unity. The study contributes evidence to formulate a more progressive, critical and active set of curriculum and pedagogical expectations at a delicate point in Nepal’s current political transformation. The study recommends that forthcoming planned curriculum reform in Nepal does more to explicitly acknowledge cultural diversity, socio-economic adversity and political reform endeavours and contestation. It might also involve community stakeholders more explicitly and seek to address global education issues within local contexts. In this way, more active and inclusive approaches to civics and citizenship education might address specific issues related to the Nepalese social studies curriculum and consequential teaching and learning.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Shah, R
Keywords: Civics and citizenship education, democratic citizenship, social studies, policy cycle
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Copyright 2021 the author

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