Baglung, Nepal- Back to school season for Nepali Dalit children is truly a time to celebrate! Just ask Khagisara Bishwokarma, a 13-year old Dalit girl who finally has an opportunity to go to school school. She lives in a remote village in Devisthan, Baglung District with her parents and two younger brothers.
Shanti, her 15-year old sister is already married. If not for ADWAN’s programs, Khagisara would have followed her sister’s likely trajectory of early and numerous pregnancies and births, high infant mortality rate and persistent poverty.
Leading development organizations, including the World Bank and UNESCO agree: educating a girl is key to development. When a girl goes to school, she brings valuable information back to her community and makes better decisions.
Most Dalits children in rural Nepal do not have opportunities to attend school. Often the school is too remote and requires a lengthy or dangerous walk. Poor families need their children’s labor, and do not understand the importance of education; this is especially true for parents of girls, who must care for younger siblings and do house chores while the parents work. The result is that too many children and especially girls grow up with no or little education.
ADWAN Blue Shirt Program provides $7-$10 for children of each women’s group member. It is enough to cover the cost of the required school uniform and a few supplies. In addition, ADWAN also runs school readiness classes, the Jumpstart Program to prepare children from disadvantaged homes for later school success. It also offers older children who couldn’t start school at a normal age opportunities to catch up in basic subjects. Khagisara was such a student who excelled in the Jumpstart program started in her village.
After only a year, she was admitted into grade 3 in the local school! As a gifted student, she has a real thirst for learning and loves to read. Khagisara also helps her mother and other women in the women’s group with their business calculations.
When our staff visited, Khagisara and her friends were dancing and singing. She receives the money for a new school uniform with a shy smile, while her friends Chhamu, Manikala, and Aitamala clap and cheer.