Even as investments have steadily grown in other areas, the education sector has been comparatively lacking. In a country where the government-run educational institutions are generally shunned, private schools have been trying to fill the quality gap.
But for students and parents from relatively richer families, sending children abroad for education has been a preferred option. It is to counter this trend and to give Nepali children access to quality education that the Kathmandu World School opened its doors in 2018.
Located at Suryabinayak, Gundu, KWS offers top-notch infrastructure supported by state-of-the-art facilities in a serene and peaceful location, creating a unique learning environment. Spread over almost seven acres of lush greenery and abundant natural beauty, KWS is the brainchild of some of the most experienced Nepali educators, and established in association with CG Holdings (Chaudhary Group). The school offers full-fledged programs from grade I to XII and can accommodate 1,500 students including 390 residents.
Rajendra Kumar Ghising, PhD, the Chief Executive Officer of KWS, talks to Sunny Mahat of APEX about his almost three-decade-long career in education, what brought him to KWS and about the school’s future plans.
Parents have become aware of the importance of good education for their children and they are ready to invest in it
Tell us briefly about your career and how you came to join the KWS team.
I started as an office assistant in the Kathmandu-based GEMS school in 1991. I had never thought this would be my long-term career. But I kept getting new challenges, opportunities and roles in the same institution, which made me stick with it for almost 25 years. In this time, I learned the ropes of school management. During my time with GEMS, I also completed my Phd in Management from the Angeles University, Philippines. By the time I left GEMS, I had been working as its Chief Executive Officer for eight years.
For KWS, I was approached by Dr Khagendra Prasad Ojha, a leading educationalist in Nepal and also my EMBA teacher. He offered me this challenging job of establishing a completely new international-standard school in Nepal. I thus joined KWS at its inception in 2015.
What does KWS offer to its prospective students?
KWS is a project that started with a lot of expert inputs and research. We travelled extensively in India and Singapore to understand how international-standard schools operate. That research and our own pool of experts have created this school in Nepal with world-class infrastructures, facilities and safety measures for students.
At KWS, we have adopted the latest teaching-learning pedagogy in alignment with the International Primary Curriculum. We follow progressive education and we focus on value-based education. Besides academic knowledge, we want to give our students Eastern values as well. We want to teach them sympathy and empathy and what it means to be honest and to love their country. We want to pass values onto our students and make them responsible citizens.
This is an ambitious project which, instead of making money, is aimed at retaining Nepali students who are now having to go abroad. We want to prove that we can provide the same quality of education that residential schools in India or other countries offer.
What do you think is missing in the Nepali education sector right now?
A pragmatic approach and practical education. Students who have studied in private schools here come out intellectually sound but we could never produce students who loved their country. For this, I blame the curriculum, the schools themselves and, of course, the parents.
Almost all parents are preparing to send their children abroad as soon as they complete their XII grade. It has become a matter of prestige. They are competing with each other and hence this mindset has been passed on to children as well. Their goal has become to go abroad for higher studies at any cost.
This mindset has to change. Our curriculum needs to change. We should be able to teach our children that it is not necessary to go abroad to create a future for themselves. We have enough colleges and educational institutions that can provide quality education here. There are also enough opportunities to work and live in their own country.
Do you think Nepal is ready for a school like KWS in terms of affordability?
Parents have become aware of the importance of good education for their children and they are ready to invest in it. They know if they give good education to their children, they need not worry about saving for their future. Also, the socio-economic status of the country has improved. We found around 1,500 Nepali students studying in India alone, with their monthly fee exceeding InRs 100,000. If the parents can spend so much to send their children away to distant countries, they can definitely afford our school when they realize that the quality of education at KWS is really high.
Our goal is to be a leading educational institution with a reputation for excellence not only in Nepal but the South Asian region as well. We want to have students from all over Nepal and at least from other Asian countries.