There have been some gains in literacy in Nepal since the 1970s when the government began including programs for girl’s education, but the WHO statistics still indicate a huge discrepancy between literacy rates of males and females.  In 2002 the literacy rate for males was 62% but for females only 26%.

Many reasons exist for not sending girls to school including lack of household resources, high school fees, a lack of sense of importance of educating girls as they will simply get married and become an asset to the husband’s family, a heavy workload for girls in the home, a lack of female teachers and inadequate facilities.

Along with literacy programs for women, TWR staff and volunteers have recognized the need for childrens’ programs.  We visited a multi-purpose  “school” in  a dump area which provides schooling for the kids in the mornings.  We were there to see classes break up for the day and the room immediately fill with women who receive not only basic literacy but also sewing and design skills and the knowledge needed to set up and run a small business.

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A 9 year old girl said “I really wanted to go to school like my friends. But my parents stopped my schooling after 6 months of my joining school because they were not able to provide my uniform and exercise books and pencils. With heavy heart and broken heart, I had to stay back at my house to look after my younger brother at home while my parents went out to work. I used to peep out my age children are going to school with school uniform and school bags with full of books. I wished I could get opportunity like these children. Now, I am so much happy to able to study in this children education centre. I want to be a teacher in future so that I can teach those poor children like me.”

 

As a result of the sewing programs, five women have found employment in the garment and tailoring industry and three have opened their own small shops.

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