WATCH: The Story behind the Palu Bari Women's Adult Education Centre
BACKGROUND TO WOMENS EDUCATION IN NEPAL
Female education has been neglected in Nepal since the earliest of days. Combine that 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 are certainly found throughout the country’s history but homes are still considered to be the field 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.
"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 the inequality and belief among Nepalese people that a womens avenue to education is limited to say the least.
OUR PALU BARI THISWORLDEXISTS EDUCATION PROJECT
On the right is a photo of the Palan Chowk Bhagawati Womens School in 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 empowering the local women of the local community.
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 the 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 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 communities 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, over 90 women still regularly attend his programs despite the lack of infrastructure.
This is Nirmal Thapa.
When THISWORLDEXISTS met with him and learnt 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.
Palan Chowk Bhagawati Womens School UPDATE
THISWORLDEXISTS commenced this project in April 2017 and completed the first stage of construction in January 2018. The community centre now has six complete teaching spaces that are complete with furniture, teaching materials (sewing machines, weaving looms), internet and new sanitation facilities. THISWORLDEXISTS are currently looking to continue the development of the second story of the site to maximise the number of women that can be educated at the site.
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.