It is always the skilled and educated individuals who carry a culture forward. And, with a nominal investment in terms of Western education, young Nepali adults who have not achieved their School Leaving Certificates can gain the sort of vocational training that will launch them on solid careers. When a young man or woman can support his or her own life, they will often share their profits with their families, thus raising the entire family unit into a more sound and stable economic situation.
Currently, half of the Nepali teenagers are unemployed. Less than one-third of those who take the School Leaving Certificate at the end of the normal education cycle (the equivalent of U.S.10th Grade), pass this notoriously difficult exam. And, of those who pass, without sufficient funds to continue on with their formal education, there is little hope of rising above the work and the historic caste limitations of their families.
The well-known and oft-quoted axiom says it all: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Nepal Youth Foundation began its Vocational Education and Career Counseling program in 2007, and already it has grown into being one of our most successful and exciting in its beneficial returns. More than 80 percent of our graduates are now working as cooks, seamstresses, mechanics and others have joined coops and started their own businesses.
This is the "feed him for a lifetime" result we are creating. Once a young adult learns a skill, his or her life changes in more than one way. First, the person can now earn his or her way in the world. This is a primary urge and one of the deepest satisfactions life has to offer. Second, the confidence that grows out of an achievement of this sort infuses power into ideas that at an earlier time seemed unattainable.