03.12.2013 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Using GIS maps to fight illiteracy in Nepal

© UNESCO -Orientation on Geographical Information System workshop

Many people in Nepal cannot read and write. Literacy maps are useful tools to find them and to plan campaigns to make them literate. After training in literacy mapping using a Geographical Information System (GIS), which the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu has recently provided to 28 experts. Literacy mapping in Nepal is now in full swing.

“We are using the literacy data from the latest national population census to produce initial literacy maps for the country as a whole and for each district” says Babu Ram Poudel, director of the Non-Formal Education Center. 

These maps will help policy makers in prioritizing geographical areas and population groups with lower literacy rates. They will contribute to target illiterates based on identified numbers, concentrations, and profiles.  Furthermore, the GIS maps will contribute to strategize interventions taking into account the available local literacy environment and delivery capacities; and they will help plan literacy actions and programmes relevant to the profiles and needs of targeted people who are illiterate. 

The literacy mapping through GIS allows the Government to emphasize bottom-up evidence-based literacy planning, and promotes accountability and innovations in literacy strategies and programme delivery during planning and implementation”, says Tap Raj Pant from the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu. 

The participants in this training include officers responsible for planning, designing and/or implementing literacy and non-formal educational activities within education administration, relevant ministries, agencies, NGOs and other literacy providers.

In Nepal, Illiteracy remains a persistent development challenge. Despite progress, literacy rates remain low. The Nepal Living Standard Survey 2011 reflects a 15+ literacy rate of only 56.5 per cent. This reflects an increase in comparison to 2004 (48%) and 1996 (35.6 %). 

However, the recent household-based literacy survey (UNESCO/CERID, 2011) which used proxy indicators of literacy, showed a lower literacy rate in the survey districts compared to the self - declared survey studies. Statistics also reflect huge variations between urban and rural areas (86% populations live in rural areas), geographical zones, and between different castes and ethnic groups. 

Literacy is a key to sustainable human development. Literacy significantly empowers individuals and enables them to improve their own quality of life and the socio-economic conditions of their family, community and nation. 

The Literacy training was provided with the framework of the project “Building capacities for strengthening literacy and lifelong learning in Nepal” that the UNESCO Office as part of the global imitative “Capacity building for Education for All “(CapEFA). The project contributes to address the capacity gap of the non-formal education ) sub-sector in Nepal by enhancing the capacity of government officials in policy and planning, monitoring and evaluation, effective NFE service management and delivery at the central, district and Community Learning Centres levels.

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