Nepal is a mountainous country of 28 million people in the Himalayas of south Asia. Until 1950 the country was closed to the outside world and, because of this isolation, it has been one of the least developed countries in the world.

Its development has also been hampered by regular and serious floods and earthquakes; the earthquake in 2015 killing 9000 people. It is currently the 158th wealthiest country in the world¹.

In 1951 there were only 300 schools in the whole country and only 5% of the adults could read and write. Nepal has made a lot of progress since then, and even life expectancy is now a respectable 70 years.

Dhangadhi is a large town in the far west of Nepal near the border with India. In fact, it is nearer the capital of India (New Delhi) than the capital of Nepal (Kathmandu). It is the major centre for the region, with hospitals, businesses, schools and colleges and an airport. Unlike much of the country, Dhangadhi is in a lowland area and has a sub-tropical climate. The main people here are the Tharu, who are Buddhists, but living in the forests nearby as shifting cultivators are the Raute people. They are nomadic and, until recently, have been cut off from the rest of the population. Their standard of living is much lower.

The average child in this area goes to school for just over 4 years – barely enough time to read and write. This is why the students at Axis Vidyasharam High School have teamed up with Hutchesons’ Grammar School to try and increase the opportunities for all the children in their local area to get a complete education. The Axis students researched the main barriers to education in their area, and the most practical solutions, by interviewing parents, teachers, other members of the community and children. Their findings have been summarized as PDF files. these can be found at: https://j8educationalpartnerships.co.uk/research, which is password protected for educational purposes. Please get in touch and ask for the link to access these files.

¹https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GNI_(nominal,_Atlas_method)_per_capita

Increasing Access to Education in Dhangadi

Having found the main barriers to education and some practical solutions, the students in Dhangadhi and in Glasgow have been able to take action. These are some of their actions:

Involving the parents and local community

Our group of pupils have put a letter in an English-language Nepali newspaper describing the students’ work and asking for government schools to take part and their headteacher has written personally to the local government schools.

Starting a student scholarship scheme

Our group of pupils set up a scholarship scheme for a deserving pupil to attend the Axis school. With the help of the headteacher and students at the school, they identified a boy from the Raute community currently living in a nearby orphanage. The Raute community live in the forests of southern Nepal (see photos) and are shifting cultivators and, therefore, do not use the formal education provided. The headteacher believes this might be the first child from the Raute community to go to school and he is determined to use his education to help his people and persuade more of his people to send their children to school.

Informing outside agencies

All the findings of the students have been sent to the Ministry of Education in Kathmandu and to DFID Nepal.