Make everyone literate by 2010

Make everyone literate by 2010
Make everyone literate by 2010

May 2009; It is five in the morning. Man Kumari Subedi has been up for some time now. She cannot sleep. She has to finish her homework but she is stuck on one sentence and is waiting for her grandson to wake up so that she can ask him for help. At the age of 75, Man Kumari has started going to school !

'I look forward to it and can't wait for 11 o'clock to come. This is the best part of my day,' says she. Women like Man Kumari who do not know how to read or write have enrolled themselves in the housewives programme.

In the classroom, Man Kumari is exchanging notes with Kamala Shrestha, 45, another enthusiastic learner. They giggle and whisper like little girls, discussing their homework and the mishaps and adventures they went through to complete it. The room is lively with chatter of over 50 women, all housewives, who have come to the class after taking care of their household chores. They have come here to spend a couple of hours to learn to read and write so that they can fulfill a long cherished dream of being literate and not having to depend on others for simple information.This programme educates women from 16 - 75 years of age or beyond to recognize numbers and do basic reading and writing. Thanks to the initiative of the Non Formal Education Centre!

This Non-Formal Education Centre has started a number of literacy campaigns to meet the objective of the Government to make everyone literate by 2010. The program mobilizes 85,000 volunteers and 4,013 supervisors, who are paid a monthly allowance of Rs. 1000 each.

The UN Millennnium Campaign further aims to strengthen this programme in the days to come by building the capacity of the Non Formal Education Centre.

'I read the newspaper now and discuss the news with my husband,' says Krishna Karki, a 30 year old woman with two children. She no longer feels left behind.

'It is amazing how enthusiastic these women are, ' says Kamala Karki, the teacher of all these students who are much older than her. 'When they came here a month ago, not one could recognize any letters or numbers. Now they can read simple sentences in Nepali and English and are beginning to learn their sums.'

All these women who come to Manohar Basti Samudayik Learning Center have one goal in mind ' to know what is happening around them. Most of them are there because their families encourage them to learn, read and write. 'My grandson can't stop laughing when I say my ABC', says Man Kumari with a smile on her face. 'Sometimes we study together and he loves correcting me.'

There are 90,000 informal classes in 75 districts all over the country. Some districts show overwhelming success, while some remote districts in the Far Western region of the country are struggling with it. The government of Nepal data shows that 92% of children attend primary school. The number goes down to 60% by the time they reach secondary school and it goes down further to 50% in high school.

The Non Formal Education campaigns are a means to provide high school certificate to those who have dropped out of school. The NFEC has provisions to provide vocational training as well to students who want technical trainings.

In the classroom, Man Kumari is exchanging notes with Kamala Shrestha, 45, another enthusiastic learner. They giggle and whisper like little girls, discussing their homework and the mishaps and adventures they went through to complete it. The room is lively with chatter of over 50 women, all housewives, who have come to the class after taking care of their household chores. They have come here to spend a couple of hours to learn to read and write so that they can fulfill a long cherished dream of being literate and not having to depend on others for simple information.

For more information, contact seema.rajouria@undp.org