Literacy and Lifelong Learning

© UNESCO\ K. M. Gautam -
Moment of enlightenment as the elderly woman is excited as she is finally able read

Nepal has made tremendous progress in education, moving from a country where education was associated with the social elite to a country where,  97.2% of children now enrol (with a Gender Parity Index of 1.0 in the Net Enrolment Rate) in primary education (Draft Flash I Report 2017/18, Department of Education). Literacy rates in the wider population have also increased in line with the growth of general education. The literacy rate of the population which is 15 years and above is reported to be 64% (Male: 75.3%, Female: 54.2%) as per the Annual Household Survey 2015/16 by the Central Bureau of Statistics. 

Various initiatives undertaken by the government have increased literacy rates in Nepal. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu has supported many of the government’s efforts – the National Literacy Campaign (NLC), 2008-2010, followed by the Literate Nepal Mission (LINEM), 2012-2015, which significantly contributed to the achievement of the National EFA Goals on literacy. Within the framework of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD 2003-2012) and the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE, 2005-2015), UNESCO also supported the government in the preparation and implementation of A 10-Year Literacy/NFE Policy and Programme Framework

First pilot CLC established in 1999 in Shreekot, Baitadi

Literacy lays the foundation to acquire essential life skills which are required to overcome the various challenges that exist in 21st century society. Ensuring literacy for all people enables them to participate in a range of learning opportunities throughout their lives. Realising the potential of community-based learning, UNESCO has also promoted the establishment of Community Learning Centres (CLCs). In 1999, the Office’s first pilot CLC in Shreekot was founded in the Far Western development region of Nepal. Today, as many as 2151 CLCs are functioning all over the country – thanks to the incorporation of the CLC approach within the government’s national plans and policies for the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning. 

Wood Carving at Bhaktapur CLC

Following the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), the government has recognised the importance of lifelong learning. This is an essential extension to the concept that literacy promotes human development, encompassing learning in and out of classrooms, across different ages and generations, and learning skills relevant to the learners’ context. This concept has a special relevance in Nepal, where a diversity of cultures, ethnicities, languages and climatic zones coexist. It enables people to cope with the rapid changes taking place in the 21st century and is of particular importance to out-of-school youths and neo-literate adults. 

Building on past efforts under the Capacity Development for Education for All (CapEFA) programme (2009 – 2015), the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu, through the Capacity Development for Education (CapED) programme, continues to provide support to the Government of Nepal. The Office’s assistance extends to building the national capacities in policy and planning, effective service management and delivery, and monitoring and evaluation of literacy and non-formal education (NFE) programmes. UNESCO is also supporting the strengthening of the lifelong learning and equivalency framework, in conjunction with the Non-Formal Education Management Information System (NFE-MIS), to support the transition to a federal governance structure and to incorporate lifelong learning indicators. 

Key Partners

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (at federal level); Non-Formal Education Centre (NFEC); Community Learning Centres; Non-Government Organisations

Extra budgetary Project(s) Portfolio

  • CapED Programme: “Strengthening literacy and lifelong learning opportunities in Nepal”, with the support of Dubai Cares, Finland, Norway and Sweden (2016 - 2018, ongoing)


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