Washington, DC Includes Nepali in Academic Curriculum

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by TARA DUANE
Former US Ambassador to Nepal Scott De Lisi launching the Access Program in Nepal in 2010. [Image: US Embassy Kathmandu].

Nepali was included into the Washington, DC higher secondary education curriculum as an optional language in late February. The addition aims to encourage Nepalese students and other community members to take up Nepalese subjects in Washington. As a requirement in the District, high school students must complete a minimum of two credits in a world language in order to graduate high school. Other languages available to study include American Sign Language, Arabic, French, Italian, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Students do not only learn about communicating in the language, but also study communities and culture.

There are 110,000 Nepalese-Americans residing in the US. In the 2015/2016 academic year, 9,662 students from Nepal studied in the US, an increase of 18.4% from the previous academic year. The US is the top destination for Nepalese students studying abroad, with one in three choosing to study here. There are 200 Nepalese people that live in DC. In 2014 DC’s Howard University found its top source of foreign students to be Nepal.

The US government also facilitates the English Access Micro Scholarship program in Nepal. The program provides economically disadvantaged 13-16 year olds with afterschool classes that teach students English and other life skills. The program aims to help further the children’s educational and career opportunities including increasing their opportunities to study in the US.

In 2016, exports from the US to Nepal amounted to $41million and included computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and agricultural products. In the same year, imports from Nepal totaled $88 million and included textiles and apparel manufacturing products. DC exports to Nepal totaled almost $3 million in 2016 and largely consisted of transportation equipment. Other exports included textiles and computer and electronic products. Imports from Nepal amounted to $130,000 and primarily comprised textiles. Other imports included apparel manufacturing products, used or second hand merchandise, and plastic and rubber products.

Nepal’s location and natural resources make it an attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI). The US is one of the leading foreign investors in Nepal accounting for approximately 5% of the country’s total FDI. For the financial year 2013/2014, US FDI in Nepal amounted to $57 million and employed approximately 14,000 people.

Tara Duane in a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Western Australia.