While education is a challenge for all impoverished Nepali children, young people in remote rural villages face even more obstacles than their urban counterparts do.
The dropout rate is exceedingly high in these remote villages – many quit school before 5th grade. These families are so destitute that the cost of school uniforms, supplies and even a modest school fee is far beyond their meager budgets. Many parents also need their children to work on the family farm or perform household chores and feel that school is beyond their reality, and sadly beyond their dreams.
In several rural districts in Nepal, the Nepal Youth Foundation grants scholarships to children to cover their school expenses. This is the first generation in most of these areas to receive an education. The cost – about $100 a year per child – is an incredible investment. An education will best prepare these youngsters for the very difficult future that awaits them.
In 2012-2013, NYF provided scholarships to 43 children in impoverished rural families – 19 girls and 24 boys in grades one through ten.
We have seen some interesting ripple effects from this program. Our scholarships motivate parents other than those whose children we support to send their children to school, too. There is social pressure in the village when some kids go to school and others do not. Some parents hope that NYF will sponsor their children if they start school. Headmasters tell us that there are noticeable rises in general attendance after we bring our scholarship program to their schools.
Our field workers visit the schools regularly to check on the children and to see how the schools are functioning. To do the job, they walk the mountain paths of isolated rural areas, sometimes ten hours a day, stopping at various village schools along the way to survey the situation and discuss problems with the headmasters and students.
The Nepal Youth Foundation supports children until they can support themselves. After they graduate from high school, we provide them with college scholarships or vocational training.
We have asked some of the girls we support in rural schools to write about their lives and ambitions. Pushpa, a student in class five writes, “Despite the … adversities, I am not hopeless… I am studying hard because I am determined to become a nurse and take care of the poor.” Kamala, who is in the 8th grade, says: “After getting this scholarship I have been able to go to school regularly and keep myself neat and clean.” And Menuka writes, “I am happy that this scholarship has provided an opportunity for us to get education on an equitable basis with other rich and high class people. We can also become a renowned person if we get equal access of education.”