January 24 is World Education Day. Education is a human right, a public good and a social responsibility. Inclusive and equitable quality education is vital in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is currently leaving millions of people behind. Today, 262 million children and adolescents do not attend school and 617 million children and adolescents cannot read, write or do basic mathematics.
For over 10 years PHASE Worldwide have been working to improve education in Nepal, through integrated and sustainable community based education projects. We are committed to strengthening the Nepali education system, and what better day to showcase our work, than World Education Day.
Education in Nepal faces some serious challenges. Less than half of all children living in rural Nepal progress to secondary school. Significant gender disparities exist, with the male literacy rate (71%) far exceeding the female literacy rate (44%). Additionally, many schools lack the amenities necessary to accommodate children with disabilities; 60% of disabled children never go to school. The communities PHASE Worldwide supports are often unaware of their right to education, or even the benefits of basic literacy.
Over the last few years, PHASE Worldwide has supported a number of integrated education projects as part of their model for community development. We have run education projects in the Gorkha, Kavre and Sindhupalchock districts. Our early childhood development programmes help parents better raise their children to be healthy. We offer salaries for teachers, commission buildings for use as schools, provide teaching materials and develop water and toilet facilities to improve government schools. In addition to this, a number of the volunteers we send to Nepal are teacher trainers, who work with local communities to improve teaching practices and strengthen the Nepali education system.
Our projects demonstrate a considerable impact within the communities in which we work. In one of our recent female empowerment projects in Wai and Kolti, over 90% of participants stated that they felt more confident, more able to speak publicly and more empowered to address issues of gender discrimination within their families and communities.
In 2014 we provided 180 teachers from 36 government schools with awareness level teacher training, and 78 government school teachers received mentor training. In the same year over 90 women from North Gorkha learnt to read and write through our adult literacy project.
PHASE Worldwide aims to run more inclusive education projects over the coming years, with an emphasis on improving access for children with disabilities and bridging the education gaps existing between genders and social classes. We also hope to improve the standards of teaching and learning environments within the communities in which we work. More integrated education projects will help us in ensuring that no one gets left behind.