Social Studies in a newly (re)born democracy
Summary: The aim of my study has been to explore how the subject of social studies is taught in Nepali schools, in relation to the political situation of the country. I have studied the role and purpose of social science in Nepali schools, in relation to its approach on democracy and citizenship. I have used ethnographical methods to conduct my study. The ethnographic approach and methods fit my study since the field was an unknown context for me. I have chosen a triangulation of methods, using observation, informal interviews, in-depth interviews and a review of documents as my methods. I have made observations and informal interviews in two different schools in Kathmandu. I have also made four in-depth interviews with the teachers in social studies at the observed schools. Finally I have reviewed textbooks used in the schools. My results have shown that the teaching in relation to democracy and citizenship in Nepal puts an emphasis on the rights and duties of the citizen as a way to explain democracy. The schools in my study also emphasize the creation of a national identity amongst the pupils as a foundation for practicing their democratic rights and duties and contribute to the nation. There is a gap between what is taught about democracy and the reality of democracy in Nepal. There is also a gap between the theoretical vision of child centered education and the authoritarian teaching in the classroom. I discuss the role of social studies as a contributor to consolidating democracy in Nepal. I also discuss similarities between Sweden and Nepal and claim that education in both countries applies a functionalistic approach to democracy. I argue the importance for Sweden as well as Nepal to apply a normative approach in education for democracy where the pupils are seen as valuable citizens and the democratic values are at the center of education.