Dear Friends and Supporters. Here is a brief update and a more detailed report on what we hope to achieve with this project. The children and their families in this remote part of the Hidden Himalayas value good education and will work hard to ensure that their children get one that offers them greater opportunities for the future.
The level of education in Humla district, Nepal Trust’s main project area, is poor and ranks among the lowest in Nepal, with many people, particularly women, being illiterate. Education development indicators of Humla indicate that the total literacy rate of people (6+ years) is 22.62% (female 8.87%, male 36.5%) and approx. 60% of children never go to school, due to poverty (Source: District Development Plan 2008, District Information and Documentation Centre, District Development Committee, Humla).
Child illiteracy rate (10-14 years) is 45.3% and only 2.6% of children pass the SLC, equivalent to the Irish Junior Certificate or British GCSEs, whereas in 66% of the district, there is no secondary school (Source: District Profile and Analysis, District Development Committee 2007) and enrolment of children in primary education (up to Class 5) is only 26.8%(Source: Population of Nepal, National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, 2006).
Many schools lack basic infrastructure such as sufficient class rooms to accommodate students and teachers, sanitation measures, blackboards, cabinets, desks and chairs, teaching equipment, and skilled and motivated teachers. Only a few economically well-off families are able to send their children to private schools in cities outside, but for the majority of people there is no other alternative than to accept the current conditions within their villages. It is paramount therefore in any education approach to consider the problems faced within the communities and link any proposed education intervention to this analysis. Such an approach allows for a better use of resources - in Humla, the population groups which exhibit the highest levels of illiteracy, social skills and malnutrition in Nepal are women and young children.
The government has built schools in some of the villages in Humla district with the plan to ensure education for all Humli children. The schools are staffed and managed by the District Education Office (DEO) in coordination with the local school management committees.
The Nepal Trust has been working in Humla for over 20 years implementing education, sport and literacy programs, school and library construction projects, hostel establishment projects, child health education programs (Little Doctors) and education volunteer placement programs.
Due to the lack of good schools in Humla, parents tend to send their children to a good functioning school if available, even if that means if that school is further away from their own village, which makes the need for a school hostel and affiliated services for food, accommodation, etc. high priority. In Muchu village The Nepal Trust started the support of the school through provision of additional teachers and to set up a hostel facility. Initially the hostel accommodated 15 children from outside the village, which has now grown to over 55 children, making the need for additional school infrastructure and the sustainability of running the expanding school even greater.
Muchu school now has approx. 80 students from which 55+ remain at the hostel. The school itself is a government school. Due to the lack of infrastructure to educate the children there is a need to establish new classrooms, a kitchen and dining hall, a storage room and to repair the school hall for school meetings.
Alongside this, the community and school committee are actively looking for alternative means to make the school self-sufficient so they won’t have to rely in future on donor support
Accordingly, the Nepal Trust has set up a project to build this new infrastructure, with financial support from its own resources, from the Rotary Clubs of Chiswick & Brentford, and Provins, and from the Dutch organisations Stichting Nepal and Wild Geese. This programme will take 2 - 3 years to complete, dovetailing neatly with the Global Giving project. The GG project seeks to support running costs over a 3year period when the school should be self-sufficient.
To make the school self-sufficient, the project will establish a wholesale community-run commodity shop at Hilsa (border with Tibet), to provide essential goods (e.g. blankets, rice, flour, food items, oil, shoes, clothes, toiletries, etc.) within Humla district at bulk rates, so the shop will act as an income generating activity for the school. In this way the school can pay for their own teachers, materials, etc. Muchu is now connected with a road that runs from the Tibetan border to Muchu village, which resulted in the fact that there is great potential to start trade activities, as vehicle movement is slowly developing, and the area as a whole is developing into a market hub
Once the school can start its own income generating activities, it will not only benefit the local school to bring continuity to their education programs and up to a higher level in general, but also will enrich the students themselves with valuable education and work experiences; all factors that will benefit them to progress and develop themselves in life itself. Alongside this it will provide local employment opportunities.
The main aim of this program is to aid the recovery of this post-conflict area, with a focus on child education. The long-term aim is to promote social reconstruction, political stability and social cohesion by developing an improved and sustainable (primary) education delivery system in the area at grass-roots level, which falls within the new Government policy. The program also aims to reinstate and develop (primary) education provision in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly those that focus on achieving global primary education and extreme poverty reduction.
Thank you for your support to date and please spread the news around to your friends and ask them to support this vital project.
At Hilsa - the border with China.