Beyond Affirmative Action: Overcoming Social Inequalities in Higher Education
This paper describes the various social inequalities that exist in Nepal’s higher education and provides a critical analysis of the ways in which affirmative action is posited as an obvious response to address these inequalities. The paper delves into the ways in which inequality in education is understood and debated in the Nepali context, often resulting in very ‘confused’ and blanket responses to addressing them. It argues that while affirmative action may be a highly popular and a widely accepted method of addressing graded inequalities in higher education, it is not the only way per se and that further clarity is required on what the term constitutes. Given that many of Nepal’s inequalities in higher education stem from an unequal base (i.e., school education), the paper concludes that affirmative action needs to be implemented in tandem with a number of other initiatives at various levels of the education system in order to promote equity and social justice in the system.