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Future imperfect

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
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Photo: Gopen Rai

Photo: Gopen Rai

The future of more than 200 Nepali medical students in Bangladesh hangs in the balance as their colleges are either unregistered or black-listed.

In the first week of October, Nepal’s ambassador to Bangladesh, Chop Lal Bhusal, sent a memo to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), along with the list of 37 black-listed Bangladeshi colleges where Nepali students have been enrolled.

Nearly two months later, despite receiving the letter from the MoFA, neither the Ministry of Education (MoE) nor the Nepal Medical Council (NMC) has initiated any efforts to ‘rescue’ them. If not transferred to other colleges, these students will be barred from applying for internship, and will not become doctors.

That ambassador Bhusal’s memo from Dhaka has not prodded Nepali authorities is not surprising. What is surprising is that they allowed Nepali students to be duped by unscrupulous education consultancies even after being informed that the Bangladesh government has black-listed dozens of medical colleges. 

Last year, Nepal’s then ambassador to Bangladesh, Dhan Bahadur Oli, had sent a memo about four black-listed Bangladeshi medical colleges. He had also warned that more medical colleges were likely to be either shut down or black-listed for not complying with regulations and taking more foreign students than their actual quotas. 

After Oli’s memo from Dhaka, the MoE was mulling a moratorium on Nepali students’ entry into Bangladesh for medical education. But education consultancies, protected by politicians, forced the MoE to back off. 

NMC Chair Dharma Kanta Banskota says: “We initially barred students from going to Bangladesh for medical education, but then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal himself put pressure on us to not stop them. So we had to relent.” 

Since then, as many as 328 Nepali students have gone to study MBBS and BDS in Bangladesh, after obtaining No Objection Certificates from the MoE and Eligibility Certificate from the NMC. And more than 200 of them have landed in colleges not recognised by the Bangladesh government. 

Ambassador Bhusal accuses the MoE and the NMC of being influenced by education consultancies and risking the future of Nepali students. “Everyone is interested in the kickback, and no one cares for students,” he says.

Last year, the Nepal Embassy advised the MoE and the NMC to allow Nepali students to come to Bangladesh only after monitoring all Bangladeshi medical colleges. Neither the MoE nor the NMC heeded the embassy’s advice.

NMC member Bishwa Dawadi says: “It is practically not possible to monitor each and every medical college in Bangladesh, and monitoring will not guarantee that no student faces risks there.”

Around 3,500 Nepali students are currently studying in 74 medical colleges in Bangladesh. They spend anything between Rs 3.5 million to Rs 6 million to be doctor, and they have to pay at least Rs 500,000 to consultancies.

Ramu Sapkota

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