Better Life – Educating & Keeping Children Safe in Helambu, Nepal
Quality education is a cornerstone in the fight against poverty and inequality. It plays a key role in developing social and economic justice, gender equality, and robust democracy. Inclusive and equitable quality education, the right of all children to receive educational services within their local community with reference to their local cultural context is specified to the Sustainable Development Goal number 4. On this foundation, CICED has entered a three-year project with our partner, The Just Nepal Foundation. The project is being conducted in close collaboration with the Helambu Rural Municipality of Sindhupalchock.
A host of challenges
The project area was a “hotspot”, during the Nepalese civil war which ended in 2006, which left deep unresolved scars within communities. The area was also badly hit by a 2015 earthquake. It had the highest death toll in the country and 95% of homes and infrastructure were destroyed. Many families are still living in makeshift houses as the social and economic impact of the earthquake was not fully addressed. It has the highest rate of girl trafficking in the country. Unsafe youth migration primarily to the Middle East from this area is also high. There are many challenges. However, with a new governmental system seeing the light in 2018, for the first time in modern history, a local person was elected to the position of Lord Mayor, which brings new opportunities.
Hindu Caste-based discrimination in Nepal is prevalent within schools. We find an education system underpinned by a vicious cycle of inequality and discrimination based on caste and ethnicity. Two-thirds of enrolled children in the Helambu schools are presently dropping out before they finish fifth grade.
“Attitudes are at the heart of the education problem in Nepal. You find a high tolerance of inequality, and there is a fairly pervasive belief that the poor, the marginalized communities, the lower castes, are somehow responsible for their own condition. We find that school staff and local communities are dislocated. They often come from different castes or ethnic groups – for example, the language of the school and local communities are often different. When a child meets up on the first day of school, she will often not understand what the teacher is saying, and it may even be forbidden for her to speak in her mother tongue, although the school building is centrally placed in her village”, explains Rita Tisdall, the project coordinator at CICED.
Therefore, education of school and parent committees are essential ingredients in the project - in addition to teacher training. There is a strong focus on civil society capacity strengthening within this project.
“Our local communities are characterized by a culture of division. If we are to succeed in doing something about this and promote solid gatekeeping, so we end the trafficking of girls, we need to broaden the scope of schooling. The entire community needs to be involved,” explains, the Lord Major of Helambu.
A two-pinned rocket towards a better future
The project focuses on two fronts. Firstly, through a Total School Approach, we are mobilizing, capacitating and strengthening parents, communities, schools, and local governors to collectively confront the obstacles found within their particular community and school. We facilitate a process where the school and their local communities can become partners and develop a common vision for their children and their education.
Secondly, we are working to improve the teaching that the children encounter in school. It must be based and relative to their own world, their challenges and history and not a reality hundreds of miles away concerning people living in a completely different way to themselves. And then it must be in a language they can understand.
There are some 34 schools and communities involved in this project. They will be facilitated by Total School Approach Teams. Each team will have a specific cluster where they will reside throughout the project and give hands-on support and input.
Better Life – Educating & Keeping Children Safe in Helambu
Project titel: Better Life – Educating & Keeping Children Safe in Helambu, Nepal
Project start-end: 01.12.2020 - 30.11.2023
Partner: JUST Nepal Foundation
A list of articles in connection with the project. Most articles are written in Danish.