Rural Marginalized Community Education Support

Support to very disadvantaged children and women

Since 2017, CORE has worked with Himalayan Human Rights Monitors (HimRights) to give scholarships and support to 100 Chepang schoolkids in Makwanpur, a district in the hills south of Kathmandu. In January 2018, it offered training to the parents to help them improve their livelihoods and their appreciation of the importance of education. The Chepang don’t migrate to the city, they are truly forest people.

The Chepang are one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in Nepal living on the edge of forests. Their access to services, especially education, has been so limited that only 1% of women can read. The parents rarely understand the value of an education, so the dropout rate of the children is high and they are vulnerable to being sent for child labour or early marriage.

Now, kids who rarely went to school go every day. This program has had an impact as many kids have gone from dropping out of school to being at the top of their class. Parents are supportive of their child’s education.

A big success is that the municipal representatives have taken an interest in improving the schools and providing scholarships for marginalized children in other villages.

The Coordinator has worked with these communities in other projects and makes frequent visits to encourage the parents to send the children to school. A food allowance makes school attendance more attractive for the parents who struggle to have enough food for their families by collecting wild edibles from the jungle and practising subsistence slash-and-burn cultivation. Some earn minimal wages from day wages as unskilled labourers.

Tuition after school has proven to be a crucial ingredient for helping the kids to stay and do well in school. CORE/HimRights provided training for the tuition teachers with a very skilled and committed trainer.

Besides providing educational support to Chepang children, we aim to empower and build leadership of Chepang children (and families) to link them with local government and enable parents’ livelihoods to support their children.

The education support includes: admission fees, bag, stationary, uniforms worth Rs. 5500 to each student. As well, we provide monthly food support which adds up to Rs. 360,000 for 100 children per distribution. This year we are distributing food three times instead of twice as in the past.

Two tutors per school give children tutorial classes to support them academically and, in their homework, and encourage them to adapt to academic life. There was also a three-day refresher training for teachers and tutors as part of CORE’s support to HimRights for educational support to marginalized children.

For income generation, this year the program gave 16 female goats to 16 families based on criteria set by school principals and management committees, parents, and HIMRIGHTS.

Selling the offspring will become a source of income for the families. Four families have new goat babies. One family’s goat died due to sickness, so the other parents and management decided this family will get one baby.

One student who has benefited greatly from the tuition is 16-year old Saili Maya. (See Stories section) She left school in class four because her parents did not have money to send her school. Instead, she looked after cows and worked in field to earn money and help her family. Her father said, “We work as daily wage labourers and struggle to feed seven daughters and three sons. That is why we were unable to send our children to school.”

Saili Maya was very happy when she heard that she had a chance to enroll again in class five. She says, “Before it was difficult for me to sit and study with younger children. I was scared whether I can study like before or not. Then, I felt a kind of energy in me and thought I have to study properly and use this opportunity to move forward.”

Saili adds, “I feel it is because of the tuition classes that I came first in class five. This year, I have promised myself to do better as I again have a scholarship.” She comes to school and tuition classes regularly and is happy that her parents now encourage her schooling. Saili says, “I am so grateful to HimRights, Core International, and my teachers who support me. I want to keep studying and ask you to keep supporting me. With the educational support that you have given me not only my face is happy but there is happiness inside me, my family and life.”

Sancha Lal Thing, her tuition teacher says, “Since the tuition classes, it is easier for Saili. In the beginning, she was unable to say her name in front of everyone even though she came regularly to school. The tuition classes gave her energy, so she slowly gained confidence to speak in front of the class. Now she can easily read and write. The tutorial classes have really helped students in many ways… they added life to the kids. Previously, they were very shy and hesitant to speak in the class. Now, they introduce themselves confidently and can ask teachers if they are confused. They are very inquisitive to learn new things. They can speak and understand Nepali language though we also promote Chepang language. Interestingly, all these Chepang scholarship students passed quarterly examinations with good scores. I am very happy with their performance. Sometimes, their parents come to visit the school and talk to me about their children’s studies. I think, that is a motivating factor for students as well. The parents said that their children set aside time for their studies and are happy. They ask for continued support.”

Tul Bahadur Sunar, principal of one of the schools says, “All students with this support are attending tutorial classes regularly. They are improving a lot in their studies. One boy, who is visually impaired, finds it difficult to learn through traditional teaching methods so I asked the tutor to give him more attention. I appreciate support from parents, school, school management committee, Parent and Teacher Association, stakeholders, and HimRights/CORE International.”

Jun Maya is 70 years old. She has three children and lives near a jungle in a self-made small hut. Her youngest daughter, Suntali studies in Grade 3 with the support of CORE/Himrights.
We grow maize, millet, and rice. We get spinach and stinging nettles in the jungle and we eat these types of food three times a day – even if it’s not tasty, it sustains us. My daughter is very good in her studies and behaves well. She teaches her brother many things and advises me to eat healthy food on time and feed her as well.”

Suntali lives in her brother’s house 30 minutes away from her school. With our support, Suntali’s life has changed.
I like studying more than playing. Around six in the morning I go to my tuition class and then return to my brother’s house to get ready for school. Attending tuition has helped me with studies. I didn’t know much before joining Grade 1 or know how to write one word. But now I am able to write and read at the same time. The scholarship has helped me with studies and helped me by providing water bottles and so on, which I am very grateful for. I do all my homework assigned by the teachers once I get home. If I don’t understand any topics during school hours, I can clarify what I haven’t understood during tuition time. We learn new things during tuition classes and my teachers are great because they teach us very well.”

In the beginning, Nebina Chepang Praja found it difficult to teach her students in the tuition classes, as the students would not open up. However, after she received support for training through CORE/Himrights, she began to slowly see her students open up and get closer to her. The children began to relax and improve as she began to improve as a teacher. “I am applying the things I have learned from the training. When exam results came out my students positioned first, second, and third. I felt proud. I got a chance to train and learned more things than I had expected. I learned how to help the students focus and how to teach them in a better way. I understood that students need to refresh their minds in between studying in order to keep being attentive instead of continuously focusing on studies. I learned many things from the training. ”

Sancha Lal Pun has been teaching 16 students from grades 2-6 for a couple of years at Shree Sagarmatha Primary School. He says that parents have noticed the benefits of the funding, especially after distributing dresses, shorts, bags, notebooks, pencils, tiffin boxes, sandals, and rations such as oil, rice, dal. “In the past the school management did not give much attention to dropout students. Once the students were supported, the teachers and head teacher said that if they had more contact with organizations, they could bring in more students from marginalized backgrounds and ensure their success. The students are progressing and changing due to tuition and are speaking out more. The teachers have observed that it is not about grades, but more about confidence to participate.”
They say this organization has provided things that they were not able to provide and that they are now aware about the importance of sending children to school regularly” Sancha Lal explained, and added “I sometimes meet the parents and they say they would like to thank CORE/Himrights. After seeing their children dropping out of school and then through access to scholarships, gaining first position in class, parents have realized the importance of giving children the opportunity to study.”