CJ Group, South Korean company and major contributor to the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, visited Kathmandu to learn about the activities and impact of the UNESCO Malala Fund in Nepal.
Established following the 2015 earthquake, the UNESCO Malala Fund project in Nepal aims to enhance the quality of girls’ education by improving teachers’ capacity for gender-responsive teaching, and empower young girls and women through learning, leadership and income-generating skills.
Heekyung Jo Min, Executive Director of Global CSV (Creating Shared Value) at the CJ Group, lauded the impact the project has brought in community schools and learning centers in Nepal, reaching thousands of girls and benefitting some 3,500 community members and schools stakeholders such as teachers, parents, school management committee members, gender focal points and students in the country.
After visiting two project sites in Kathmandu and Pharping, Min highlighted the importance of CJ’s collaboration with UNESCO to promote girls’ right to education. “It is very impressive to see how schools and communities are benefitting from the project activities. The outcomes achieved are commendable,” Min stated during her four-day visit from 14 to 17 July.
Representatives from CJ Group and UNESCO interacted with key beneficiaries of the UNESCO Malala Fund in project sites around the Kathmandu valley, including school teachers, students and community members. Januka Nepal, head teacher of the Neel Barahi Secondary School, said that UNESCO’s teachers’ capacity-building training gave her and teachers from her school the space to develop solutions to the problems faced by girls in their schools. “The trainings have enabled us to address issues related to menstrual hygiene for girls in schools, the vulnerability of being sexually abused and the risk of dropout,” she added. Other teachers who had completed the trainings indicated that they were able to bring several girls who had dropped out of school after their marriage back to school to continue their education.
As part of the activities of the UNESCO Malala Fund, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu has been implementing “The Female Champions”, a successful three-month long fellowship programme providing a leadership platform to young women across the country. CJ had the opportunity to observe the community-based learning project implemented in the Shikharapur Community School in Pharping by Bonita Sharma, one of the Female Champions.
“I always think of the important role of the community in ensuring girls and women keep on learning. The Shikarapur community learning center is a good example of the community’s engagement for lifelong learning,” Min stated during her visit to the Shikharapur Learning Center. Impressed by the impact of the Female Champions fellowship and Bonita’s work for girls in her community, Min indicated that it should be replicated in other settings and scaled up to continue building the leadership of girls and providing communities with role models.
Through the two batches of Female Champions in 2016 and 2017, as many as 100 female champions have been mobilized in more than 35 awareness-raising activities directly benefiting over 7000 adolescent girls from non-formal education classes. In 2018, the project aims to scale up to six districts, most affected by the 2015 earthquake, to enhance the quality and relevance of girls’ education.
From 2015 to 2017, the UNESCO Malala Fund in Nepal has helped some 300 female teachers develop their capacities on gender-responsive budgeting, leadership and school management. Over 170 girls and women have been empowered through locally-relevant income-generating skills and 300 others were engaged in school orientation programmes. Over 1,500 teachers from the schools in flood-affected areas received support to help resume schooling activities, in addition to 200 community members who were helped to rebuild a resilient community in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake and 2017 floods. Over 1,000 school stakeholders such as teachers, gender focal points, school supervisors and parents improved their capacities for gender-responsive teaching.
The UNESCO Malala Fund was established at UNESCO in 2012 following the brutal attack on Malala Yousafzai. It supports projects across 10 countries, including Nepal, advancing girls’ right to education and women’s empowerment while addressing gender norms and strengthening education systems.
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This article was initially published by UNESCO Office in Kathmandu. See original news story.