A violent conflict between Maoist insurgents and the national government has engulfed Nepal for most of the last decade, a situation that has been complicated by deep-seated instability at the highest levels of the government itself. Even with the declaration of a ceasefire in 2006, violence endures in pockets of lawless banditry and unrest at the hands of separatist groups. During the conflict, education and schools played a central role, with issues such as the neglect of rural schools, the right to mother tongue education, and the expansion of private schooling figuring prominently in the Maoists' list of grievances. Both sides used intimidation and violence to gain support from rural schools, which acted as one of the lone advocates of community interests during the upheaval. This article argues that throughout the conflict formal education in Nepal has simultaneously presented many faces: on one hand it contributed to the conflict by reinforcing social inequalities while on the other it mitigated the effects of the conflict by maintaining social cohesion and mediating between opposing sides. In other cases it seemingly did both at once: acting as an egalitarian force by expanding basic education and literacy at an astounding rate while simultaneously excluding certain groups from sharing the benefits of the country's development. Building upon the work of Bush & Salterelli, the article shows that in the case of Nepal education presents not two but many faces that are highly contextual and remain relevant in the post-conflict environment.
|Journal||Research in Comparative and International Education|
|Publication status||Published - 2008|
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