“In an already resource stricken, and recently crippled education system, this is a great opportunity for UWS to be a pioneer in putting these children into classrooms. The launch of UWS Nepal could not come at a better time.”
Surya Karki, UWS Nepal Country Manager
Since July 2015, we have opened 12 schools in Sankhuwasabha and Gulmi districts, and we have many more in development.
Surya Karki is UWS Nepal Country Director. Surya was born in Nepal, educated in Venezuela and USA, and was previously co-founder of Maya Nepal, a network of rural schools providing free education.
The areas where we are based are extremely remote, with poor quality 4 x 4 tracks providing the only access to villages. Educational opportunity in these villages and communities is extremely basic or non-existent. Although school buildings do often exist, they are typically built by the community, and are extremely poorly resourced, often in very basic condition and rarely fit for purpose. Very few children in the region are receiving a full course of primary education.
Educational resources are generally poor, sometimes non-existent. Based on our research, less than 10% of the students reach grade 10. Economically the region is generally very poor, with an average adult annual income of approximately USD $400-600.
The key challenge UWS Nepal has had to address came in the wake of the second devastating earthquake in May, whose epicentre was in Sankhuwashabha, one of the region’s we are working in. Nepal is one of the most earthquake prone areas in the world, lying as a meeting point between two tectonic plates. With major damage to at least 180 classrooms in government schools across the district, our support for the region became even more important.
The government requires by law that UWS build earthquake resistant schools approved by an engineer or architect. Building materials are also more expensive so that they can withstand earthquake shocks. Each school has at least three classrooms, and a library, open learning space and recreational area. Children will have access to a safe, high quality, positive schooling environment.
Despite these obstacles, UWS remains determined. At the start of 2018, we had 12 schools active in Nepal, with a further 4 in development.
On the shoulders of the southern Himalayas, Nepal is land-locked between China (including the Tibet Autonomous Region) and India. Nepal has three geographic regions providing the greatest altitude variation on earth; the mountainous Himalayan belt (including 8 of the 10 highest mountain peaks in the world), the hills region and the plains region. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world and its largely agricultural economy is dependent on the prompt arrival of the July to October monsoon. The rest of the year is dry, sunny and mild, except in the Himalayas, where valley temperatures in winter average -10°C.
Conflict and Context
Nepal has fairly recently emerged from a 10-year civil war and is still in the process of taking forward the peace agreement signed in 2006. Conflict in Nepal was fuelled by high levels of poverty, inequality and exclusion: Nepal suffers chronic deep-seated poverty entrenched by a complex set of interrelated factors including: gender; caste; ethnicity; age; language; and geography. With over half the population surviving on less than $1.25 a day, Nepal is ranked 16th poorest country in the world in 2010 – a ranking which has changed little in recent years.
Social Welfare and Education
The internal conflict has proved a major obstacle to development. The economy is dominated by agriculture and remittances from Nepalis working overseas, each of which account for around a third of GDP. Remittances bring in more foreign exchange than exports. Tourism accounts for around 7% of GDP. The Country remains extremely vulnerable to economic, health, social and climatic shocks. Moreover, Nepal’s literacy rate is among the lowest in the world, despite over 80 per cent of boys attending some schooling. Only a minority of girls attend school.
The UWS Nepal Fellowship
Our Nepal Fellowship Program aims to improve the quality of teaching in our UWS Nepal Schools, whilst providing an opportunity for young Nepal leaders to gain valuable experience and make a real impact on the lives of remote and marginalised communities. Read more here.