A Thirst to Learn at Shikarapur Community Learning Centre in Nepal

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UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, during her visit to the Shikharapur Community Learning Centre in Nepal on 18 April 2016
© UNESCO

To the beat of drums and cymbals, hundreds of school children and women lined a steep hillside path overlooking the Kathmandu Valley to welcome the Director-General to the Shikharapur Community Learning Centre, on 18 April, 2016. The Centre is supported by UNESCO’s CapEFA programme.

She inaugurated a new building, the Lifelong Learning Resource Centre, reconstructed after the earthquake with funds raised by the community. Visiting the premises, she viewed two classrooms displayed with reading materials, several computers and hand written posters on the wall featuring phrases such as Gandhi’s « Learn as if you were to live forever » or « Keep Educating Yourself. »

Addressing some 150 participants seated under a makeshift canopy, the Director-General congratulated them for following the literacy courses.

« Thank you for your enrolling, for your courage, stamina and persistence. Literacy is one of the important things a human being should be able to have in life, » she said. « Too many women have been deprived from learning to read and write, from access to information and knowledge that makes the future better for you, for your children and your communities.»

She encouraged men as well as religious leaders to support literacy, because it is in the best interest of the family, the community and the country.

The story of Goma Devi Raut and her 12 year old daughter Manisha speak to this. Coming from a family of 7 siblings, Goma explained to the Director-General that a physical disability affecting her feet barred her parents fro sending her to school. In this region with a high density of Buddhist monasteries and temples, she said that  «Taking the literacy course has been very helpful for me. I can read now and work in a monastery, where I can now keep records, track bills, better guide visitors and use a mobile.»

Goma Devi said she encourages women around her, many of whom have no education, to follow literacy classes at the Centre.

Her 12-year old daughter Manisha meanwhile goes to school and dreams of becoming a doctor. «I want to help poor people whey they are sick and can’t afford to get better, » she told the Director-General, who urged her to pursue her studies to the end.

The Centre runs a Family Literacy Programm that applies a participatory approach to learning, building confidence and working across generations to empower children and adults.

The Programme has benefited more than 240 mothers and their children from 6 surrounding villages.

The Director-General was welcomed by the CLC Chairperson Mr Shyam Baadur, Board Member Niroj Shrestha and Advisor Mr Shasi Sharma Aryal.

More than 500 community members have directly benefited from CapEFA programmes in Nepal, through activities such as the post-earthquake psychosocial support, life skills training and disaster-management training.