Education of the female population has been neglected in Nepal since the earliest of days. Combine this fact with the ever present caste system and it isn’t surprising to learn of the frightening poverty statistics evident in Nepal.
Isolated cases of women’s education can certainly be found throughout the country’s history but homes are still considered to be the default place of work for women. If women are educated they have been found to share their knowledge with everyone. They teach their children, manage their homes more effectively and help contribute to joint household income; and of course, gain opportunites that can take them beyond the home.
"If you teach a man, you teach an individual but if you teach a woman, you teach the whole family (nation)” - African Proverb
According to recent reports, the Nepal Living Standards Survey 2010-2011 (NLSS- III) has found that Nepal has an unacceptable adult literacy rate of 56.6% with a huge variation between men and women. While the male literacy rate in Nepal is 71.6%, only 44.5% of Nepali women are literate. (Iversity, 2014)
These statistics highlight this inequality and belief among Nepalese people that a womens avenue to education is limited, to say the least.
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On the right is a photo of the Palanchowk Bhagawati Womens School in the Palu Bari Village of Sankhu District, Nepal.
Built on Nirmal Thapa’s (local school principal) private property, he began conducting afternoon and nightly education sessions solely for women. His dream was to empower the women of the local community and provide them with equal opportunity.
Many of these women could not read or write, nor did they have skills that would make them employable for anything other than working in the fields of this primarily agrarian community.
After working his day job at the local Shree Kshitiz Basic School (there is a whole other inspiring story behind his involvement there), he would lead these determined women through basic literacy and numeracy as well as skill development workshops that included sewing, hygiene, and improved farming techniques.
His idea was extremely popular as over time he built this adult education centre into a facility that would host 138 women at it’s peak.
On April 25th 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and the Palu Bari community.
Something that Nirmal had committed his life to and invested a significant amount of personal finances into had been destroyed. Whilst the building was still standing, it was unsurprisingly deemed structurally unsafe and the government instructed that he needed to pull it down.
The building was removed but the desire for education from the community's women remained strong.
Nirmal has continued his program in the area surrounding his house but for the time being the blackboards and sewing machines are nowhere to be seen.
To give us even more inspiration, we discovered that over 90 women still regularly attend his programs despite the lack of infrastructure.
This is Nirmal Thapa.
When THISWORLDEXISTS met with him and learned of his inspiring story and passion to provide women with the education they deserve, it didn't take us long to commit to bringing his dream back to life and to rebuild the infrastructure for education that is so important to him and the women of Palu Bari village.
Nirmal broke down in tears when we told him the news.
Are you or someone you know interested in rebuilding the dream of Nirmal Thapa? We would love to share this journey with you and appreciate and value all the help we can get. Please help us to spread the message and this inspiring story to maximise our impact in the Palu Bari community.
THISWORLDEXISTS will commence this project in April 2017. If you or someone you know would like to join us in Nepal to support this project please visit our website for information on our April adventure.