In April 2015, an earthquake of 8.1 Richter scale hit Nepal. The epicenter was Barpak in the district of Gorkha. 9000 people lost their lives and 22,000 were injured. Not only this, whole villages were flattened in a matter of minutes and rebuilding is still taking place today. Nepal is a low income country and it has taken an enormous amount of effort and aid to rebuild these villages and restore a way of life.
To make matters worse, more than 90 percent of schools in the districts of Gorkha, Nuwakot, and Sindhupalchowk were destroyed during the earthquake and 80 percent were destroyed in Dhading. School dropout rates were already low in Nepal with 76.8 percent of students dropping out at grade 5 and the earthquake made matters worse since only 11% of schools in Nepal are earthquake resistant.
This meant around 1 million school children could not return to school at least until the schools were rebuilt. Many are still learning in makeshift schools across the villages affected. Many more have enrolled in school in neighboring villages 2 hours or more just to reach. Imagine having to walk 2 hours as a 6 year old just to get a primary education and many children do just that in Nepal.
We have seen the aftermath of the earthquake while helping relief efforts in villages. In fact, we helped rebuild 300 houses in Kerabari village in Gorkha by coordinating with People in Need, a Czech organization. While these houses were rebuilt, we still need help to rebuild and reestablish schools across Gorkha and its neighboring districts. We have seen how imperative it is to bolster education in villages not only to keep children in school but to empower them, especially girls (37% of girls still get married before the age of 18). By rebuilding schools, creating engaging curriculum and involving the community, we can ensure children not only stay in school but learn interactively and effectively. The schools that do exist in Nepal operate mainly on memorization and little focus is placed on critical thinking and learning. By mentoring teachers, providing scholarships, children’s books and other learning materials, we strive to revitalize the school system in rural Nepal, especially those schools which have been destroyed or deemed unfit to be taught in after the earthquake.
While we are currently focused on COVID-19 relief efforts and humanitarian assistance as per the need of the people, our ultimate vision is to help rebuild the educational institutions that were destroyed in the earthquake and in the process, promote a healthy learning environment in rural areas so every child has an equitable right to education in Nepal.
Our vision really lies in making sure all children, especially from impoverished communities do not have to forego their education to eke out a living. There are currently 770,000 children aged 5 to 12 who are not enrolled in school in Nepal and it is our mission to make sure they have an opportunity to exercise their right for education and for the betterment of their lives.