A former bonded labour girl gains a second chance at education in Nepal
Nepalese teenager Bipana Chaudary is pursuing her dream to further her education thanks to a literacy programme supported by the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education.
Bipana, 17, lives in Bijaynagar of Kailali district, Nepal, where the traditional Kamaiya and Kamlahari (bonded labour) practice has left many families in poverty and forced children to drop out of school and go to work.
After the practice was abolished, Bipana had to work with her mother in a nearby market during the holidays to earn a living. Although she was unable to concentrate on her studies, she successfully passed yearly school examinations up to class 5. She was then persuaded by friends and her brother, who were in the same situation, to leave school and work full time. Today she has regained her access to education thanks to a literacy programme supported by the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, which promotes quality and relevant learning for adolescent girls in Nepal.
In September 2016, Bipana joined the literacy classes jointly conducted by the UNESCO Office and the Backward Society Education (BASE) NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal. The facilitators engaged with students through modules covering issues such as social norms and behaviours, gender-based violence, adolescence, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and access to education. Bipana’s favorite module was "Dreaming of the future and planning the future", during which the facilitator, Sujita Chaudhary, narrated a story that inspired Bipana to continue her education. The story was about two girls: one who completed her education and found interesting and well-paid work and another who did not go to school and instead had to work for long hours with a low pay.
As a result, she asked the school principal of Karnali Secondary School for a scholarship and fee reduction which she obtained on the condition that she would attend all classes regularly. The facilitators supported her by talking to her parents about the value of her continuing studies. He explained how Bipana would be able to find better work if she completed her education, and that it would benefit the whole family. Her father said: “I am ready to support buying everything she needs to send her to school. If she is ready, I am also ready for her education."
Bipana is now attending school on a regular basis and took part in the school examinations in December 2016. She said: “I am confident that I will be able to pass the examinations and that I will achieve my dreams for the future”.
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