This thesis examines dynamics of the right to education and argues that this right is used to continue to spread an education system that still has colonial roots and aims at extracting people from their traditional way of living into a western consumer culture. It does this through working towards the universal enrollment of children into a western-style education system that caters towards a western consumer culture. Taking Nepal as the main example, this thesis argues that the right to education and its advocate equivalent, the Sustainable Development Goal 4, have been used to bring about an education system that does not pose a break with previous forms of education, but a continuation of the purposes of ‘previous’ colonial education systems. In doing so, all other forms of education are eliminated, mainstreamed into the western-style education system or done away with as ‘non-educational’. This thesis will argue for the decolonization of education and separation of education from schooling. Only then, a right to education can be beneficial. Nepal is often portrayed as one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. This then serves as the foundation for several development projects to ‘improve’ the life of Nepali’s. One way to achieve the ‘development’ of Nepal is the establishment of a strictly government regulated western-style education system. For the past thirty years several international organizations, countries and corporations have invested in, and influenced, the Nepali education system. In this process the detrimental aspects of both education and the right to education have been ignored and resulted in a problematic education system. The roots for this can be traced back to Nepal’s relationship with the British empire, as well as the following neo-liberal reforms promoted and enforced by the United States. I begin by discussing the human right to education and trace its western oriented roots. Thereafter, I will debate the assumption that education is ultimately good and rebuke some of the myths. Next, I will look at Nepal’s most recent history and trace the development of a western-style education system alongside Nepal’s political history. It will show how the development of a western-style education system was heavily influenced by foreign countries and international organizations, as well as corporations. It will therefore complicate the idea that Nepal was never colonized. Lastly, the right to education and the current education system in Nepal will be brought together and it will show how the current education system is not a break from the colonial past, but a continuation. This thesis concludes with proposals to decolonize education.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Law Department

Degree Name

LLM in International and Comparative Law

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2019

First Advisor

Beckett, Jason

Committee Member 1

Taha, Mai

Committee Member 2

Heck, Gerda


95 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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