The inception of Pokhara University on July 16, 1997 (Shrawan 1, 2054 BS) embraced the inspirations of making the demand-driven higher education accessible to the Nepalese students. Pokhara University is preparing to celebrate its 24th birthday on this July 16. It is not too late to flashback the journey that Pokhara University has undertaken. There is an utter need to execute the strategic plan that can escort the quality of education and research at Pokhara University in the days to come. In fact, for several reasons, it is the high time for Pokhara University to decide whether to “persist or perish”.
The pandemic COVID-19 has shattered all the academic schedules inevitably affecting the academic plans of more than 30,000 current students spreading across over 60 programs under four faculties of Pokhara University, alike in many other academic institutions in Nepal and abroad. The outstanding concern for Pokhara University now is how the academic activities can be resumed adjusting the academic calendar.
The greatest despair in Pokhara University is the absence of the Vice-Chancellor
Besides COVID-19 crisis, the greatest despair in Pokhara University is the absence of the Vice-Chancellor, the executive head of the institution, for almost ten months. Meanwhile, the regular term of most of the subordinate officials, including Registrar, Deans, Controller of Examinations, and Executive Directors has come to an end, leaving university in a void. The Directors of the three constituent schools out of four will complete their regular tenure within the first week of July.
Consequently, only two officials, particularly the Dean of the Faculty of Management and the Director of the School of Development and Social Engineering, will be attending the 24th establishment-day ceremony of Pokhara University this year unless the Chancellor of Pokhara University, Rt. Honourable Prime minister of Nepal appoints the sixth Vice-Chancellor before the esteemed birthday ceremony. At the far end, over 5,000 qualifying students from the different programs offered in 66 different institutions across the country have been desperately waiting to attend the graduation ceremony. The academic, financial, and developmental lapses have become irreparable during the due course of uncertainty. Nonetheless, an immediate appointment of the dynamic and academic leaders as the Vice-Chancellor and subordinate officials can make Pokhara University breathe a fresh breeze and attain the new normal situation.
Universities are the epicentres of knowledge creation and dissemination, and both are the dynamic processes that warrant contemporary advancements maintaining the legacy of the knowledge evolution. It is a high time for Pokhara University to target a position in the national, regional, and global ranking. In concert, Pokhara University has to urgently plan for a radical change to embrace future expectations, beyond the current demands. This university requires a rigorous and brutal assessment of its traditional drawbacks. There is an urgent need to implement strict provisions to house high-quality professors in every academic institution of Pokhara University. The experienced efforts of high-ranked professors and academic leaders, with efficient assistance from the institution, can transform Pokhara University into a centre of eminence in higher education. Only a university embracing the contemporary horizons of the higher education system can attract the dedicated learners and educators subsequently disseminating the glory of the university across the country and beyond.
The time is the most excellent teacher of all and so for Pokhara University. 24-year-long history can give us a huge set of data for institutional assessment and self-realisation of every person concerned. The pandemic COVID-19 has mirrored the poorest scenes where Pokhara University can and should focus on the timely transformation. No one from nowhere can come to Pokhara University to make it a better place for us to work and learn; this is the bitter truth. Let us forgive and forget the past, and commit for a sense of high degree integrity and mutual respect. Pokhara University is calling to contribute the proper knowledge and skills to the fullest to make this university an excellent centre for higher education and research. Can we make this university the best place to educate our 21st-century kids? The excellence in leadership is utmost to transform Pokhara University into an eminent centre for knowledge creation and dissemination. Indeed, Pokhara University has to move forward, contemplating the aspirations of 21st-century learners and educating modern society holistically.
Dr Namraj Dhami is an Assistant Professor at School of Health and Allied Sciences, Pokhara University. He can be contact at [email protected]