Fadmeeda’s journey back to school
– It made me sad to stay at home while my friends went to school. That has changed. Now my dream is to become a teacher, says Farmeeda Khatuh.
Farmeeda Khatuh is a smiling 16 years old girl, currently enrolled in the ninth-grade at Shree Lower Secondary School. However, this was not always the case. When Farmeeda finished the eighth grade little over two years ago, there was no school close to home that offered further education, leaving her with no other option than to leave school and stay at home.
Challenges to girls’ education
In the poor and marginalized community of Nandanagar, located in the southeastern part of the Kapilvastu district, there is no long running tradition of attending school and thus few existing options for public education, especially if you are a girl. Discrimination between sexes is still a frequent occurrence within the Nepali society, continuously disadvantaging girls and women. Girls are often kept at home due to traditional attitudes towards girls’ education, heavy engagement in household work and child marriage. Despite legislation against all discrimination being in place, there is a very real problem with the implementation, especially in the more rural areas of the country where local norms and customs have precedence.
In an effort to change this, IM together with its’ partner SSDC work to mobilize the local community and sensitize parents to the importance of education, but also to support in capacity building and advocacy work through developing model schools for quality education. In Farmeeda’s school, this work has so far resulted in an improved learning environment, new materials, the development of an annual plan, as well as the establishment of a ninth-grade class.
Access to education
This change has had a huge impact on Farmeeda’s life. Living in a poor community, the families often only have the money to send their sons to private schools, and the daughters are kept at home if there is no available public school nearby. To improve and make the public school accessible to all children in the community is thus of great importance, as it allows more children, and girls in particular, to achieve a proper education.
– It made me sad to stay at home while my friends went to school. That has changed. Now my dream is to become a teacher, says Farmeeda smiling.
In Kapilvastu, the re-enrollment of children in school can largely be attributed to SSDC and their determination to change the attitudes of the local community in regard to education and discrimination. This way of advocating is also present within the model schools, where awareness building aims to ensure equal treatment and no discrimination based on gender, caste or religion. Talking to Farmeeda, these efforts seem to have had an impact. Like most other nine-graders, Farmeeda loves spending time with her friends, and she happily says that they are all attending school together now.
“We are all best friends here”.
By: Anna Lindhe, IM Intern.