Under the Constitution of Nepal, “every citizen will have the right to a free basic education”. Still, the Nepalese educational system is one of the youngest on our planet and, although in recent years the numbers have improved, unequal access to education in terms of gender, caste (or social group), and the region continues to weigh down the progress of the country and of its future generations. In other words, the fact of being a girl, of a low social caste (Dallit or Chepang, for example) and living in a rural area makes difficult, or impossible, the access to education.
To these three cultural causes, historically implicit in Nepali society, there is a new source of inequality: the increase in private schooling due to disappointment with the ineffective public system. Considering that only wealthy urban families can access private education, the existing social gap in Nepali society is becoming larger and more distant.
This disparity between private and public schools has its origins in the low involvement of the government, which ends up causing a low quality of education, something that is accentuated in rural and remote areas of the country.
To better understand this problem, we should deep dive into the reality of rural areas, where, in the first place, the illiteracy rate is above the country average (in some cases reaching all households). So the interest in education is low, something that little by little is beginning to change.
The second reason that hinders access to education in rural areas is the lack of trained personnel to provide education in schools, where in some cases the person with the highest education has not yet completed basic education.
Finally, the lack of primary resources is latent in most rural households, which automatically pushes education in the background, being seen as a luxury good rather than a basic right. This situation is responsible for the high dropout rate (reaching 63%, compared to 0.13% in countries like Spain). As a consequence, child labor becomes a reality, taking more than one child away from school once they are old enough to help at home.
Therefore, to promote sustainable development in rural areas, there is no solution that specifically involves education, community work must also be considered.
It is important to work on a quality education at school —training teachers— and building attractive educational structures —through extra-academic activities or offering food to the kids attending to the school—.
But we cannot leave aside the execution of activities that bring awareness to the communities, on the one hand, and education in obtaining economic resources —culturally adapted to the reality of the area—, to try to put an end to that gap and that families can afford to send children to school.
Education offers opportunities, opportunities make us free, and freedom gives us wings to fly.