Have you ever been to a town entirely meant for students? Well, Kirtipur looks like the one though it’s not literally meant for students but looks like a huge college, campus anyway.
This small hill station on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu always has more to share. The city, which developed after the establishment of the Tribhuvan University, looks like a big hostel as one can see students everywhere. Students from different nooks and corners of the country representing various cultures, arts and disciplines make Kirtipur a perfect town of dreamers.
It is hard to find a single house here without students. Even illiterate people are familiar with some educational terms like ‘thesis’, ‘exam’, ‘routine’, ‘assessment’, among others, for these are the words mostly spelled in Kirtipur.
Rooms lighten up until late night while in the morning and the evening, terraces are filled with students holding books and notes, photocopiers run without a break xeroxing handouts and reference materials. Some students-to evade friends and guests- are seen studying in the shades of trees in the jungle on the TU premises. It looks like Kirtipur has a learning ambience everywhere. Students in groups are found discussing academic subjects and contemporary issues on the roadsides in the evening. One of my friends jokes that we can learn something even when we are just roaming. Another thing to learn from Kirtipur is the struggling and sharing nature of students.
Most of them are from the lower-middle class families who have entered Kathmandu at high cost. I have many friends who have come here getting loans with high interest rates. So, they have no options but study seriously and make the education worth the investment. A typical student room here contains a small hand table (available at Rs 300), a bamboo bookshelf (available at Rs 100), water taps made locally by making a hole in a plastic bucket. The rooms’ interior reflects the economic constraints of students. Many students hold side jobs to support their living and education.
The students here are hard working but many are not acquainted with the modern technocratic world. Most of the students, if not all, have their thesis typed by others because they are not familiar with the wonder box, computer or lack it. Poor academia of the university hardly offers them practical classes. To pursue a good career, academic qualifications alone do not suffice. Exposure to the real world while excelling in academia is a must.
If we could advance Kirtipur to meet this requirement we could definitely get the change makers that our nation desperately needs. A place like this should be made a discussion hub where politicians, policy makers and students will delve into subjects of national interests. This might give new and fresh perspectives to leaders while students could benefit a lot as well.