Nepal Diary Hugh B. Wood

According to its author, an advisor to Nepal´s National Educational Planning Commission (NEPC) in the mid-1950´s, "Nepal Diary is not an autobiography….it is a biography of an event, a project, a program, a revolution."
The nine-part volume takes us through the planning and implementation of the education programme by the NEPC during the early and mid- Fifties, a time of great public enthusiasm. Popular participation in the planning process was such a priority that opinions on the direction of national education were sought even from illiterate people, who voted with their thumb-prints on questionnaires.
Nepal Diary reminds us of those days of hope, with volunteer teachers, voluntary labour to build schools, and NEPC members who "would devote from 750 to 1000 hours to their assignments without pay". In response to such enthusiasm, the NEPC defined the goals for national education for Nepal as: universal education (for children and adults), national education (one single public system) and free education (primary education and literacy immediately).
It is impossible to read this book without contrasting those early days of Nepali education with the directionless meanderings of today. The book, for example, describes the establishment of a Teacher Training Center. Yet where are the trained educators the country needs so desperately today? According to the World Bank, the literacy figure for Nepal remains at a low 20 per cent.
Wood returned to Nepal in the summer of 1961, this time with Unesco, to study  Nepal´s   educational  problems.  He found that "there was 1J00 percent growth in the number of schools from 1951 to 1961, a 1900 percent growth in the number of pupils, and an increase from 0.9 percent to 15.8 percent in the number of school-age children attending schools".
He seems to have detected a significant change in the governments education policy as well. So, in tune with this policy, he writes: "However, while not discouraging continued efforts in this direction, we pointed out the dangers of too rapid growth of primary education." The team thus "recommended maintenance of a proper balance, and postponement of the 100 per cent enrollment goal, if necessary."
Thus, Nepal´s   educational   progress  was
 braked before it could gain speed and we were "saved" from the danger of "too rapid growth". A foreign adviser can give advice, regardless of its moral value. In a country with minimal literacy like Nepal, the fault of deciding not to expand primary education or literacy "too rapidly" does not lie with foreign advisors, but with ourselves. Thus ends this "biography of…a revolution", not with a bang but with a whimper.
Nepal Diary is well-written, though not without its share of typographical and statistical errors. Despite its weaknesses, the book will be instructive reading to all those who worry about education in Nepal.    But who worries.JayarajAcharya is a Nepali
sequence   shows   how  Base  Camp    got
the   message   of the   tragedy:    six
blankets high up on the mountain    laid
out in a cross.
The best feature of the documentary is conversations with Odel, Noel and Jack Longland, valuable because the first two have died in the past year. There is Odell insisting that the two figures he saw above 27,000 feet were not rocks, for they distinctly moved. A Mallory "expert" recites a long-winded and unbelievable theoretical replay of what might have happened to the pair. Jack Longland unexpectedly calls Mallory "a stout-hearted baby unfit to be put in charge of anything including himself". Hillary is asked "what if the two had in fact made it to the top in 1924? His answer is mock-serious but to the point: "the getting down is rather important".
The documentary is replete with such interesting vignettes, but in the end its appeal will be limited to mountaineering buffs. This is because the film literally gets lost on the mountain, with the lay viewer unable to follow the chronology of events, the succession of camps and the geography of the mountain´s north face. The 1922 and 1924 footage is mixed up, and locations from the old film are not related to the current footage, which should have been easy to do.
Mallory,  second  from  left  on  Everest
Harvard and Breashears, unhappy with
cinematographers´ treatment of
mountaineering, decided that it was time
climbers themselves got into the act. In
doing so, they have remained faithful to
the historical characters and the
mountain, but expect too much of a
general interest audience, for whom this
film was evidently made. However, the
documentary is a pleasure for the
initiated and, best of all, does not solve
the mystery of Mallory and Irvine. –

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Himal Southasian