School must go on

It was written that the effects derived from the global pandemic we are experiencing would be more devastating in countries like Nepal, where the number of deaths is not at all alarming compared to Spain, but the consequences at the economic and social level seem to be worse than those experienced after the 2015 earthquake.

In the case of Nepal, and more specifically in the rural and remote areas of the country, many families have lost their jobs, thus being left without any source of income; leaving these households to face a shortage of food, medicine and other basic needs. A recent UNICEF report on Nepal children, during the country’s lockdown, shows that there has been a very negative impact on education and nutrition.

On one hand, with schools closed for the last five months and families losing their livelihoods, many students in Nepal are forced to contribute to the family economy, and may not return to schools once they reopen. This fact is more alarming for girls, since according to UNICEF 53% of girls surveyed will not return to class. The factors of this high post-Covid-19 dropout rate are mainly three:

  • 67% of girls surveyed said they had stopped studying at home since school closed in March because they do not have the means to track classes online, which means they will hesitate to go back to school or have difficulties to catch up and pass the exams when they return.
  • Around 10% admitted that they probably would not return to school when it reopened, due to lack of parental support in their education.
  • But the most worrying thing here is that 45% of the girls reported the need to work or to provide care at home, due to the situation of poverty caused by the loss of sources of income in their household.

On the other hand, it is in rural areas where household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased. Due to the lockdown imposed in Nepal, supply chains and essential nutrition services have been disrupted, while food prices have skyrocketed. As a result, the quality of children’s diets has declined and malnutrition rates have increased. And everything indicates that they will continue to rise, although the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) require Nepal to reduce wasting to less than 5% by 2030, a goal that will not be easy to achieve since it is currently around 10%.

Sometimes it seems logical and natural that extreme situations, require extreme measures; if a household in these rural and remote areas does not have enough income to meet the most basic needs of its members, all of them, including the smallest ones, must contribute. But from Bahadur Social Project it doesn’t seem like it; furthermore, we believe in education as a driver of opportunity and change, while we fight against child labour.

Following the path with which UNICEF closed its report, the continued loss of access to education in low-income families could have irreversible negative effects on the country’s economy and negatively affect its potential to guarantee equitable and sustainable development. That is why, yes or yes, and now more than ever, the school must go on.