Nepal has nearly achieved universal enrolment in primary education and has also made significant improvements in gender parity in primary and secondary education. However, many challenges persist for young women and adolescent girls in terms of access, participation and completion of good quality education. Female students tend to drop out of school as they reach higher grades. In many instances, education systems and plans are not gender-responsive and do not take into consideration girls’ and women’s particular needs. But even if there are provisions within the education sector to ensure universal access to all, social/cultural values tend to override such provisions. Among the many socio-cultural, economic and other factors preventing adolescent girls and young women from accessing education are, for example, child marriage and early pregnancy, gender-based violence, lack of knowledge or provision of proper hygiene facilities such as WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene).
There is a need for a holistic and comprehensive approach to girls’ and women’s education and for creating an enabling environment, including ensuring access to water and sanitation as well as health services, raising awareness and conducting advocacy among stakeholders, enhancing socio-economic policies, and challenging persistent social norms. Such an environment should complement efforts to improve the quality of education through mainstreaming gender in education policies, plans, pedagogies, curricula, and the school environment, making them relevant and empowering, encouraging adolescent girls to stay in and complete school.
The Joint Programme is an initiative under the framework of the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education – Better Life, Better Future, launched in 2011, which seeks to increase learning opportunities for adolescent girls and women and to find innovative solutions for some of the biggest challenges and obstacles to their education. With the generous support of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the programme targets five districts of Nepal - Sunsari, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Achham and Bajura, where girls and women are socio-economically marginalised and do not have easy access to safe water, sanitation, health services and other basic needs, due to which their opportunities to quality education have been denied or compromised.
“I could not study as I married at an early age. Now I will try to educate my brothers and sisters not to make the same mistake that I made.”
- To develop capacity of key institutions and actors to mainstream comprehensive sexuality education and gender-based violence, through policies, curriculum and training, in formal and non-formal education to foster a safe learning environment, especially for adolescent girls and young women;
- To enhance access to, participation, transition and achievement in education and functional literacy, especially for adolescent girls and young women;
- To increase access for vulnerable, out-of-school adolescent girls and young women to comprehensive sexuality, gender-based violence, including violence against women and girls and reproductive health information, services, life skills and other relevant programmes;
- To foster a safe and healthy environment which is conducive to adolescent girls' and young women's learning by addressing gender-based violence, improving provisions of healthy food, clean water and sanitation, and strengthening favourable societal attitudes and service delivery mechanisms.