I believe in IT revolution as the strongest mechanism for the accelerated development.
Dr. Manish Pokharel, who has achieved Post Doctorate in cloud computing and Big Data from Korea Aerospace University, Seoul, South Korea after achieving PhD from the same university, is currently Head of IT & Computer Department, Kathmandu University. Dr. Pokharel is a very renowned personality in IT education in Nepal and in international academia. Dr. Pokharel has been associated with KU since 1995 AD. Initially he was appointed as a lecturer for the students of B.E. Computer at KU in Dhulikhel, Kavre, however along the course of time he completed his ME from BITS in India and got more responsibilities as an active family member of KU.
Born in Saptari district; Dr. Pokharel was educated in Kathmandu. He finished his SLC from Bhanubhakta memorial school, Lazimpat, Kathmandu and I. SC from Amrit Science Campus. He had joined Trichandra Multiple Campus before he joined for B.E. in Computer Engineering in Karnataka, India which was growing value in the contemporary market. Later, in 1995 he joined KU but completed his ME in Software System from BITS, Pilani and started lecturing back to Kathmandu University.
Dr. Pokharel with us has the following words to our guest of truth about IT & Computer education in Nepal:
As the Head of Computer and IT Department of KU, how do you see the IT & Computer Education in Nepal?
IT & Computer Education in Nepal is growing noticeably as in global trend. KU being the first university in Nepal to introduce Computer Engineering, has revolutionized the institutionalized IT & Computer education to a next level. And I think, it was not so late at the time. This course was supervised by NTNU of Norway and BITS of India. So, quite apparently, the IT education at the present is at the center of attraction. A large number of students aspire to be an IT graduate and settle in the same profession.
But unfortunately, more than 60% IT graduates drain out the country in the quest of better employment. This has painfully resulted into brain drainage.
Nevertheless, IT education in Nepal is in international standard. The universities and affiliated colleges have greatly adapted and standardized their IT & Computer Programs curriculum, there is nothing slagging in the academic programs. The poor scene is our job market or can also be pointed to government policy failing to address the need of the time.
How do you justify the importance of IT education in Nepal?
Nepal already lost the potential revolution in agriculture and industry, so the only means to help the country develop is revolution in IT and Computer sector. We have to utilize this as an opportunity because of low investment and high return. We have to learn the proper utilization of IT & Computer from Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and many more for reforming the country in economy.
KU being the First University to introduce Computer Engineering in Nepal, What was the guiding force behind it?
Definitely, the guiding force was the need of the IT education in Nepal. So, the early initiation was taken by the whole KU family especially by Prof. Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma, the founding Vice- Chancellor of KU. But KU was questioned about bringing Computer Engineering in Bachelor Program into curriculum since the program was completely new and there was not any reliability. However, besides all there, KU was very clear in its mission and vision. That is why there were many helping hands for successful introduction of Computer Engineering in B.E Programs. KU received the helping hands from the renowned personalities such as Prof. Dr. Anant Ramu, from IIT Madras was the First Dean of School of Engineering at KU, Professor Dr. Badigar from Karnataka University and Professor Dr. Igne Euhansan from NTNU, Norway and many more professors from abroad including Fulbright Foundation , UMN and many more.
How did KU face all the existing challenges of the time?
With KU's realistic effort, every challenge was broadly realized. So, Computer Engineering was a successful result. And more than that because of our visionary leaders at KU ,we took all the challenges as opportunities.
What were the resources managed to systematically teach the B.E in Computer Engineering?
There were few motivated faculty members who contributed a lot to design the course an international standard. Nepali graduates from overseas were in priority for designing and preparing all the curriculum in collaboration with the experts, scholars and professionals from around the world.
How did KU coordinate the certification and recognition of Computer Engineer among the established degree of other subject areas?
KU was already recognized in India, Norway and many other countries as a University. Our Computer Engineering Program was guided by them. To make the certification an international standard, the course was designed for 4 years with full 120 credit hours on the grounds of all basic subjects' requirements. Computer Engineering is not a secluded subject but a multi-disciplinary, so the curriculum was designed accordingly. We have followed the guidelines of ACM and took the reference from other renowned Universities in abroad.
How would you like to compare computer & IT education of past with the present?
IT was not so advanced in the past. The technologies were limited and the learning computer engineering was also limited in a sense. However, the graduates did not have any placement problem right in the local market.
But at present, the IT & computer education has reached a next level. It has magnificently strived its development. One of the beauties of KU is that it always visualizes the market need. KU always thinks ahead. It means, like what will be the scenario after four or five years in local market as well as international market. What areas of IT will be more demanding? As per the future need or demand we have the freedom to update our curriculum. So, KU has timely amended its curriculum and teaching approach keeping at the center the internationalization of the degree. KU has a special committee that aware in upgrading the course as on ongoing global changes.
Do you think Nepal's IT education is comparable to that of developed countries?
Of course, we can proudly say that our certification is equally recognized in the world. We are fully equipped with research and project based teaching and learning. We have 5 PhD members out of 14 expert faculty members at KU. Our partnership is extended to North American Universities, South Korean Universities, South Asian Universities and South Indian Universities. They are the leading IT and Computer education universities in the world.
What are the lacking in Nepal?
Academically we are sound in everything. We just lack in proper market. We need to expand our market potentiality in government level. Otherwise, we have best provision of internship for the students in the final year with practical approach. We are globally competitive. We just need the policy to retain our products for the development of the nation.
How can we make Nepal's IT education globally accreditable?
We are already globally accreditable. Our degree are already accredited in the global market
How would you like to share your decade's long experience and contribution to IT Education in Nepal?
After I achieved B.E. in Computer Engineering from India in 1994, I joined KU in 1995 as a lecturer with the vision that I could do many things in Nepal. There was a trend of going to USA for IT education because it was very easy for Nepali students to get admitted to US universities at that time but I choose my own country, Nepal. I love teaching Profession. My primary objective is to take Nepal's IT education to an international level. So I have contributed for the outsourcing and software development by Nepali products like in India. I have brought the changes required which I have learnt from my frequent visit as a lecturer to institutions, seminars and classes world widely.
As an individual of IT profession, how would you like to introduce yourself?
I believe in IT revolution as the strongest mechanism for the accelerated development. So, I am a simple personality with the core dedication to making Nepal an IT friendly community.
As an educationist in Nepal, how would you like to introduce yourself?
As an educationist, I love my students more than I do my family. I have a good relation with all my students of the past and present. I love to promote the value of education that is as of the need of time.
What would you like to say to the new aspiring students of IT? What can be their right choice?
IT education and skills has boundless opportunities. Every organization from social sectors to industrial area needs the IT and computer manpower in today's contest so the graduates have greater scopes on these fields. Although in early 2008 Nepal's IT market was slagging, it has retreated its position. There is always a high demand of IT professionals.
Therefore, I can confidently suggest that studying IT and Computer Programs as the right choice.
In the end, how is KU distinct and differentiable to other universities in Nepal in terms of IT and computer education?
KU's IT and computer programs are thoroughly based on the explicit approach. Right from the second semester, students are assigned with various projects, they are motivated for consulting research papers and international journals with our guidance besides teaching them in the classrooms. Our approach is for providing the exposures to the students rather than spoon feeding them. No doubt every university has tried to give the best degree in Nepal in IT education but KU can be distinguished for its global approach in developing the knowledge and skills at the same time.