Prem Phyak on Understanding Nepal’s Multilingual Policies, Practices and Perceptions
PODS by PEIAugust 22, 2023x

Prem Phyak on Understanding Nepal’s Multilingual Policies, Practices and Perceptions

#Ep.060 Nepal is a multi-linguistic country with over 130 national languages recognized by the State. However, debates on multilingualism keep resurfacing, particularly concerning the State’s preference for khas kura (Nepali), a remnant of the Panchayat regime’s monolingual ‘Ek Desh, Ek Bhasa’ policy. The country has multilingual provisions, but the gaps within such provisions are quite visible; for example, even with a multilingual policy like the first-language-based multilingual education (MLE) program, most schools in the country explicitly focus on using Nepali or English as the sole language as the medium of instruction. In this episode, PEI colleague Sonia Jimee sits in conversation with Prem Phyak to explore multilingualism and multilingual policies in Nepal with a specific focus on Nepal’s education sector. The two analyze the gap between constitutional provisions and their real-world implementation, exploring the potential cultural implications of multilingual policies in governance and education as well as the growing societal perception of the English language being correlated with ‘quality’ education. Prem Phyak is currently an Associate Professor at Columbia University, Faculty of International and Comparative Studies. Previously, he was an assistant professor and associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tribhuvan University, Nepal, respectively. His research focuses on social justice, critical pedagogy, multilingualism and multilingual education, decolonial turn and language policy. If you liked the episode, hear more from us through our free newsletter services, PEI Substack: Of Policies and Politics , and click here to support us on Patreon!!


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