Alliance for Social Dialogue

:: Grant Making OSF Network Programmes
OSF network programmes

Currently ASD is working with the following OSF’s Network Programmes (NP) and the strategy for cooperation with these NPs is:

A.  International Women’s Program (IWP)

IWP has worked in Nepal in close cooperation with ASD since 2007. Up till now, IWP has mostly supported national-level, Kathmandu-based projects, while ASD has supported smaller women’s issues initiatives in the provinces through its Human Rights program. IWP has designated Nepal as one of its focus countries and assigned significant resources for projects there. Both ASD and IWP have concluded that the greatest need for these resources lies outside of the Capital, as Kathmandu-based organizations typically already receive substantial support from numerous foreign donors active in Nepal. A solution was thus sought on how best to combine ASD’s local knowledge with IWP’s resources and expertise to bring IWP outside of Kathmandu and into the provinces of Nepal.

B. Youth Initiative (YI)

In 2008, Open Society Youth Initiative began to work in closer coordination with ASD on youth issues in Nepal. As a result, the Youth Program is supporting the following programs in Nepal. ASD and the Youth Initiative are expected to continue to develop these programs in 2011.

1.Youth Action Fund (YAF):  The Youth Action Fund (YAF) was launched by OS Youth Initiative in cooperation with the Nepali NGOs  in mid-2008. ASD has been providing guidance on the project and encouraging Nepali youths and youth organisations to apply. A three-member proposal evaluation and recommendation committee has been formed with two members from the OSF and one from the ASD Secretariat. From hundreds of proposals, 87 projects have been approved to date. The Fund’s activities and output are currently being evaluated by external reviewers. A new strategy will be developed from the evaluation process.

2. New Media and Debate Workshop (Youth in the 21st Century: Debating & Producing Media):A two-week ‘media workshop’ was conducted in July/August 2010 in Kathmandu with ASD guidance and administrative support. Conceived as the beginning of a longer project involving youth and new media, the project’s next steps will be determined after the workshop’s evaluation. Potential follow-up projects include localization of training content for continuing the project on a regional level, developing a small media project fund that applicants can apply, and linking participants with existing media projects funded by NBI and the Media program.

3. Debate Program: ASD and the YI are discussing implementation of a small-scale debate pilot project, starting with support for an informal platform of debate trainers and interested youth organizations under the guidance of ASD and YI. The platform will serve to launch the debate program in Nepal by devising an organizational framework for the program, preparing materials, and identifying media outlets to promote youth debates and expose the project to the public. The debate platform will also be utilized by providing instructors and trainers for the program.

C. Network Media Program (NMP)

While Nepal’s media is generally considered to be free and robust, the media sector still suffers from numerous problems, including over-concentration of the media in the Capital, little investigative reporting, self sensorship, poorly trained journalists, and a weak news market that results in poorly funded media. Local Nepali media, with the exception of local FM radio stations, are underdeveloped in Nepal. Even the relatively high standard of local FM radio stations in Nepal is largely due to support from several Kathmandu-based community radio satellite networks and content providers.
In March 2010, ASD organized a Strategy Planning Session (SPS) for media development in Kathmandu which brought together ASD, NMP and numerous Nepali media practitioners and experts. The session helped to focus OSF’s work on media in Nepal by identifying the following focus areas:

  • Training: Despite the proliferation of journalist training programs in Nepal, essential training still needs support, such as the basic journalism courses organized by the Nepal Press Institute.
  • Security of journalists: In the prevalent culture of impunity in Nepal, journalists are increasingly victims of violence propagated by various state and non-state actors. Monitoring this violence and developing campaigns against impunity will be important focal points for OSF’s continued work on media in Nepal.
  • Radio:  Radio remains the most important news medium in Nepal with almost total reach across the country. Development of Nepal’s successful community radio network has been supported heavily by both NBI and NMP. However, community radio may now be a victim of its own success. A survey needs to be conducted to assess the existing imbalances, especially between centralized and local content in radio broadcast. This imbalance can also be tackled by capacity building for local stations, and by supporting interactive, two-way networking bringing content not only from the capital to the provinces, but also the other way around.
  • Print: The Print media in Nepal has limited reach, yet remains very influential in agenda setting and elite discourse. Print media’s post-1990 development was a huge media success story, but print’s media star has faded in the last few years amidst an increasing atmosphere of violence, intolerance and intimidation directed towards the media. Self-censorship has become pervasive and investigative journalism is rarely practiced for financial and political reasons.  An important immediate task is to revive the Investigative Journalism, to reverse the existing trend.

D.  Higher Education Support Program (HESP)

HESP’s major intervention in Nepal has been the establishment of the Nepa School of Social Sciences and Humanities. The Nepa School has been set up to serve as a model institution of higher learning in Nepal with the two-pronged goal of bringing about a shift in the teaching and learning practices in Nepal, as well as to attract well-trained faculty into the teaching profession and retain them to teach and conduct academic research. For the first couple of years, as the Nepa School assembles a core group of faculty members and works on matters such as seeking affiliation, devising a curriculum, etc, the School will offer a program called the Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences. Thereafter, Master’s level courses will be offered although it has not yet been decided what disciplines will be on offer since such subject matters will in large part be determined by the availability of teaching faculty. Part of the goal of the Graduate Diploma is also to prepare students who have undergone undergraduate or higher studies in Nepal for the Master’s program to be offered by Nepa School in the future.
Another immediate intervention planned with HESP is a faculty development program for autonomous colleges that have been selected for support by the World Bank through the University Grants Commission as part of the Second Higher Education Project (SHEP). Selection into SHEP involves the infusion of grants up to USD 2.5 million which itself is tied to various performance parameters along with the stipulation that a matching portion of that amount be raised by the colleges themselves. SHEP itself was conceived by recognizing that Tribhuvan University cannot be easily reformed and that the only way to improve the quality of higher education in Nepal is to help its various constituent and affiliate colleges by either becoming autonomous or by strengthening their institutional autonomy. It is hoped that the proposed faculty development program will help these colleges make better use of the funds they will receive through the SHEP.

 E. Education Support Program (ESP)

ESP’s major activity in Nepal has been the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Program (RWCT), an implementing program currently steered along by ASD together with Social Science Baha and in close cooperation with the National Center for Educational Development (NCED), Nepal’s Ministry of Education, the Government of Nepal, and the Faculty of Education at Tribhuvan University. An advisory committee comprising representatives of NCED, the Faculty of Education, the Ministry of Education, and non-affiliated experts provides guidance to the Critical Thinking (CT) Program in Nepal.
A total of five CT trainings for in-service and pre-service teachers have been held: in July 2009, November 2009, April 2010, July 2010 and December 2010. It has been agreed that the CT Program will be spun off to be run as an independent program with the certification of Nepali CT trainers. After consultations with the major stakeholders, the CT program is now being implemented by Goreto Nepal, a Nepali NGO in coordination with ESP.
In addition to the CT program, ESP has also expressed interest on issues such as education and federalism, and on the privatization of education in Nepal. ASD plans to facilitate ESP’s work in these areas in Nepal by helping identifying partner organizations. ASD has decided to limit its focus on the education sector in three areas: access, quality and management. Since part of ASD’s function is to facilitate grant-making for OSF, it has been receiving many proposals from local organizations wanting to work on these issues. ASD seeks technical support and advice from ESP on how the proposals can be improved and interventions streamlined further.

 F. Partnership Beyond Borders (PBB)

ASD and NBI partnered with the PBB for a study visit by Dalit leaders and activists in India, a project that led to the first representative Dalit conference in Nepal in June 2010, supported by the NBI. After analyzing the outcome of the conference, PBB may continue to support further efforts of the Dalit community for international outreach and exchanges.
Another project planned for late this year and 2011 – 12 is an exchange program with post-conflict societies in Latin America to enhance peace building efforts in Nepal and bring in relevant experience in post-conflict know-how. The program will start with a small pilot in Guatemala, and possibly El Salvador. Specific plans for follow-up are to be concretized on the basis of the pilot’s results.

G. International Migration Initiative (IMI)

IMI has so far only been involved in Nepal in planning stages through a conversation with Social Science Baha on beginning a project on migration in Nepal. The importance of migration to Nepal can be gauged from the fact that remittances reportedly contribute nearly a quarter of the country’s GDP and that labor migration is viewed both by the government and the ordinary citizen as the form of employment most viable to young people. Yet, very little is known about the migration process itself apart from the number of migrants which is generally derived from government sources but do not account for the many who migrate ‘illegally’ or cross the open border with India and their contribution to the national economy also suspect since this also relies only on official figures. Nepal is a country that exports a significant proportion of its youth as laborers to wealthier parts of the world but does not have the clout to protect its citizens and neither are there any mechanisms in place to inform potential migrants of the do’s and don’ts in the destination country, which adds to their vulnerability to being abused and exploited.
The proposed project is to provide a grounded understanding of the migration phenomenon with the support of IMI. The activities envisaged for the project are:

  • Mapping the main features and dimensions of foreign labour migration in order to understand the scale of migration and migratory patterns in Nepal.
  • Assisting policy advocacy by analyzing current policies, bilateral agreements, international treaties, institutional features and the legal framework adopted by successive governments in Nepal on foreign labour migration from a migrant rights perspective.
  • Examining the socio-economic impact of migration and remittances on the lives of migrants, migrant households, and communities.

While the value of the research project cannot be underestimated, especially in the absence of any systematic documentation, ASD is planning a number of interventions to bring migration and its impact into popular discourse on a more immediate time scale. Among the activities planned are the use of documentary films on migration as a means of generating dialogue at the local level and the production of briefing papers on the state of migration based on the information currently available. Since Social Science Baha has already begun research on the state of migration in Nepal, it will serve as one of the partners in this planned outreach while other partners will also be sought depending on the nature of activities conceived over time.