Governance refers to the process by which a state exercise power and the relationship between state and citizen and between citizens themselves. According to the World Bank, ‘using political power for the management of various affairs of a state is governance’. Good governance is about the process for making and implementing decisions in a democratic way. In fact, decisions are directed towards the promotion of public welfare. Good governance; in a broad sense is to rule according to the need and wish of the people as well as for the welfare. Good governance negates all sorts discriminations, prejudices, corruptions, irregularities, exploitation and similar misdeeds.
According to the Asian Development Bank, good governance enshrines four major pillars; accountability, predictability, participation, and transparency (ADB, 1995, pp. 7-11). Without those pillars, a country is weak as of house with no pillars. Good governance not only supports the public decisions and welfare but also helps local government meets its legislative responsibilities and importantly provides an ethical basis for governance. Good governance requires citizens’ active participation, which conduces to public involvement in formulating government’s policies. It is widely accepted that it is a critical driver for good governance. School students are among the most effective pressure groups and agent of change. There are many channels that school students can help in building a good governance.
Laying foundation for good governance
In the context of Nepal, the students studying between grades 1 to 12 are considered as school students. Learning how to participate as an active agent, school students can lay the foundations for the good governance in the future. Through their active engagement, they can increase their understanding of democratic processes, equipping them for engagement as active citizens.
Engaging school students in decision-making processes
Firstly, the engagement of school students in the decision-making processes can play a critical role in bringing about more effective and efficient programs and policies. However, it is a fundamental way of giving them responsibility and determining their role in the society. This is an important way through which school students can make the governance smoother because school students make of more than 30% population in Nepal. In contrast, school students are in the best position to make the governance better.
Expressing their political voices
School students can help in building the good governance by expressing their political voices. In addition to the news and information through mass media to keep themselves abreast of the current events in the country, they can also make their voices heard by writing opinion letter to print medias as newspapers or magazines, joining the broadcast media, the internet in particular, to express their opinions on certain issue, for instance about the topics that raise awareness of the social, economic, legal and political issues and development. Further, they can express their opinions by taking part in any advocacy. By doing all these things, such school students can have the opportunity to share their opinions with the stakeholders. This also contributes to building the good governance of a state.
Engaging in community services and volunteering
Moreover, active engagement in community services and volunteering to help solve community problems with others is another form of civic activity which school students can do to check the efficiency of the government. The benefit from this engagement is twofold. One is gaining useful experiences and building networks with other people in the community, another is the volunteers can make themselves useful for the society and keep themselves well-informed of the current situation of the country. Participating in these activities help raise youth’s awareness about the current social, economic, legal and political issues and development in their country which will place them in a better position to check the government’s performance. For example: corruption is the big enemy of the development and good governance. So, school students’ engagement can be a model for the general public to monitor what the government does. In this sense, they help create more watchdogs to check the government’s policies and actions minimizing the corruptions.
Playing a role to break status hierarchy
More importantly, school students need to play a proactive role in breaking the age-old system. In Nepal, social integrity exists when people conform to and recognize ‘the status hierarchy’. In cultures with an unequal distribution of power, those in inferior positions find it difficult to challenge their superiors because subordinates tend to find it socially unacceptable to show any contempt for the actions and decisions of their leaders. Consequently, local participation, responsiveness and questioning of the local authorities have yet to be transformed into reality.
School students are one of the agents of change to breakdown these indigenous social relations so that right for themselves and rest of the citizens can be obtained. Through the media, they can advocate for civic education to be incorporated into school curricula. Civic education teaches people about active participation in their community and tells people morals and values and so by extension to attain good governance. School students should lobby for more focus on the following topics: nationalism, social trust, civic management, solidarity and volunteerism in the education programs. At school, students need to participate in mock elections, student’s committees, community relief groups, debate clubs which are an effective method to learn civic education and to evaluate democratic government. Furthermore, those who are knowledgeable about civic education can further spread knowledge about civic awareness education to their peers and older through awareness raising campaigns.
Formation of Student Parliament
Last but not least, the creation of student parliament, which is currently not in existence in Nepal; in secondary and higher secondary level should draw more attention from the concerned stakeholders as it is an effective method in which school students can engage for the betterment of governance. Through this parliament, students may express what they like, dislike about school management, curriculum and environment and how they propose and press for a change. This student body also serves as a channel through which information can be shared among students and across schools. Through participation in such a body, school students can keep themselves updated, learn to take leadership roles, learn how decisions are made and learn to be accountable.
To conclude, the aforementioned are the chief, practical and feasible means for the school students to help in building the good governance. Participation in expressing their political voices, active involvement in community services and volunteering, contribution to the breaking down of patron-client relations and active engagement in students’ parliament are all essential prerequisites to help in building good governance. School students should act, be a role model for the others and then inspire others into action. They should also make all the existing channels to propose and press for the better governance. Taking these actions means four things: first to engage in decision-making processes, second to raise political voices, third is to help in community works and forth is to make general public well-aware of and to encourage citizens to fully use their rights and perform responsibilities which contributes in building a good governance of a nation.
Photograph Source: BBC
By Pramish Paudel
The writer is currently studying +2 Science in Pentagon Int’l College, Kathmandu.