Community Library and Resource Centres

Country Profile: Nepal

Population

29,331,000

Official Language

Nepali (regional languages: Maithili, Nepal Bhasa, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Gurung, Tamang, Magar, Awadhi, Sherpa, Kiranti, Limbu, etc.)

Poverty (Population living on less than 1 USD per day)

55%

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

2.9

Primary School Net Enrolment/Attendance

84% (2003–2008)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

70% (1995–2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2005)

Total: 49%
Male: 63%
Female: 35%

Sources

Programme Overview

Programme TitleCommunity Library and Resource Centres (CLRC) Programme
Implementing OrganizationREAD Nepal (international NGO)
Language of InstructionNepali and other local languages (bilingual)
Programme PartnersREAD Global; The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Pew Charitable Trusts; Myths and Mountains; The Nepal Library Foundation (NLF); Rotary International; International Reading Association; One World South Asia, Pacific Asia Travel Association, UNESCO, German Embassy, Norwegian Association for Adult Learning, Town Development Fund, Government of Nepal
Date of Inception1991 –

Context and background

Despite Nepal’s developmental progress in recent years, socioeconomic inequalities continue to plague the country. About a third of its population, mostly from isolated rural and semi-urban communities, live below the poverty line with limited access to basic socioeconomic support and opportunities. The combined effects of poverty, geographic remoteness and general lack of development also prevents many rural people, particularly women, ethnic minorities (Janajatis) and low caste groups (Dalits), from accessing quality education. The provision of quality education to the poor majority is further impeded by a paucity of educational resources, poor infrastructure and a lack of qualified teachers. As a result, about 25% of the total population (or 8 million people) are illiterate. Adult illiteracy rates (51% as of 1995 to 2005) are particularly alarming. In addition, gender inequity is profound with only one-quarter of all women being minimally literate, a phenomenon which exacerbates rural poverty and underdevelopment. In response to these extreme challenges, Rural Education and Development (READ) Nepal – a pioneering non-governmental organisation for community development through community library and resource centres – instituted the Community Library and Resource Centres (CLRC) programme in an effort to empower socially disadvantaged and marginalised rural communities through educational and developmental projects.

The Community Library and Resource Centres (CLRC) programme

The CLRC programme was officially launched in 1991, the very year that READ-Nepal was officially established in the country. Under the programme, READ-Nepal with financial and technical assistance from its parent-body, READ-Global, the government of Nepal (through the District Education Office) and various international NGOs (see above) establishes community libraries and resource centres (CLRCs) in partnership with local communities. The CLRCs are used as focal points for the implementation of community-based educational and developmental programmes. In addition, READ-Nepal also equips the centres with buildings, learning materials (books, computers, children’s toys, newspapers and magazines) and furniture. It also trains the library management committees (LMCs) who are entrusted with the responsibility of managing the CLRCs and for coordinating the implementation of centre-based educational and developmental activities. READ-Nepal also assists the LMCs and community members to identify, initiate/establish and manage income generating projects which generate money for family needs and for the sustenance of the CLRCs.

Jhuwani Community Library

Jhuwani Community Library

To date, READ-Nepal has established 48 self-sustaining and community-managed CLRCs and 13 outreach projects in 37 districts across the entire country, some of which are equipped with over 9,000 books (minimum 3,000) and various other learning materials and resources. In addition to functioning as warehouses of learning resources and information, the CLRCs also act as focal points for educational training activities for community members of all ages. As indicated in the pictures below, READ-Nepal provides early childhood education (ECE) and basic literacy programmes for children as well as basic literacy and life skills training to youths and adults. READ’s life skills programme for youths and adults places greater emphasis on subjects or themes that are central for both individual and community developmental needs. These include:

READ-supported CLRCs are also playing a leading role in empowering women in the community. CLRCs provide space for women to interact and discuss issues. They also conduct programmes according to their particular needs, for example, micro finance, skill development training, leadership building training and computer training.

Aims and Objectives

The READ programme endeavours to:

Overall, the programme endeavours to diminish the isolation, vulnerability, and marginality in which many Nepalese citizens live.

Programme implementation: Approaches and methodologies

READ-Nepal harnesses the local community as central agents in the implementation of the programme. Hence, as noted above, READ-Nepal assists communities to establish income generating projects of their choice. These projects are used to generate funds necessary for family subsistence, the maintenance of the CLRCs and programme implementation. In addition, READ-Nepal has also mobilised, trained and entrusted the LMCs with the responsibility of ensuring the effective implementation of the programme. Apart from managing the centres and coordinating the educational and income generating activities, the LMCs are also responsible for identifying and recruiting programme facilitators, mobilising resources and mobilising the community members to participate in programme activities.

Recruitment and training of facilitators

READ-Nepal, through the LMCs, has recruited about 92 community-based programme facilitators/librarians throughout the country. READ has conducted 77 training sessions for 1,749 community participants. In most cases, facilitators/librarians are recruited from and assigned to the libraries and resource centres within their own communities. As a rule, facilitators/librarians are expected to have a minimum educational qualification of grade 10 in order to be engaged as programme instructors. Facilitators receive a monthly stipend of at least NPR 3000 raised from the income generating project of the library.

READ-Nepal, in partnership with the national District Education Office provides facilitators/librarians with ongoing training in basic library management, project development and management, early childhood education (ECE) and adult literacy/education (AL/E). With regards to ECE and AL/E, facilitators receive training in, for example:

After receiving training, facilitators are expected to run the centres and provide literacy and vocational training assistance to learners or participants. Each facilitator is assigned a maximum of 25 learners. The ‘low’ facilitator-learner ratio is intended to enable facilitators to provide learners with the individual attention and assistance necessary for optimum skills acquisition. In addition, facilitators also play a critical role in mobilising community members to participate in the programme.

Recruitment of learners or participants

READ-Nepal, the LMCs and programme facilitators/librarians employ various strategies to encourage potential learners to enrol on the programme. These include:

Teaching-learning approaches and methods

Although the CLRCs are accessible to any community member who wishes to consolidate or advance their literacy skills, the programme also provides formal ECE and AL/E classes. To date, about 1 million people have benefited from the programme since its establishment in 1991. Of these, about 5,061 are children enrolled into the ECE classes annually.

ECE classes are run for children between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years old. They come to the library until they go school – will stay for at least one year – for six hours per day. Adult literacy classes are undertaken over a period of three months. Thereafter, participants/learners are free to use the learning resources in the libraries to consolidate their skills. In addition, programme facilitators are also on hand to provide ongoing assistance to programme participants and other community members who visit the resource centres. The neo literate people are engaged in the programmes conducted by CLRCs to make sure that their literacy skills are used and upgraded.

Image

READ-Nepal employs a participatory and learner-centred approach to both literacy and vocational skills instruction. Accordingly, the teaching-learning process is largely based on active group discussions/debates, simulations, practical work and question and answer strategies (see pictures below). Most importantly, READ-Nepal also encourages facilitators to use locally available learning resources (aids) including those made by the learners/participants themselves.

Programme assessment: Impact and challenges

READ-Nepal employs both internal and external professionals to monitor and evaluate programme activities and learning outcomes on an ongoing basis. To date, the CLRC programme has been subject to two evaluation studies by the Social Welfare Council and the International Reading Association. These studies revealed the following:

Impact

According to the aforementioned studies, the CLRC programme has made significant contributions to individual and community development in Nepal in general and more specifically, to the socially disadvantaged and marginalised members of society. As noted above, about 1 million people of all age groups have benefited from the programme since its inception in 1991. Young children have been helped to acquire basic literacy skills before being enrolled into the formal primary school system while, on the other hand, youths and adults have benefitted from basic literacy and vocational skills training. The centres themselves have become vital focal points for lifelong learning not least because they are open for continuous usage by all members of the community. This has led to an increase in the overall literacy rates within rural communities. In addition, the studies also revealed that:

Image

Challenges

The studies also revealed the following challenges:

Sustainability

Apart from the assured long-term funding form READ-Nepal’s partners, the future of the programme is also bright not least because it is community-owned and the community, through the established income generating projects, contributes towards the sustenance of the CLRCs. In addition, the support of the Government is also invaluable for the long-term sustainability of the programme.

Sources

Contact

Ms Sanjana Shrestha
READ Nepal Country Director
P. O. Box 11995, Dasharath Chand Marg, Baluwatar-4
Kathmandu, Nepal

Telephone: 977-1-4423141 / 977-1-4439858
Fax: 977-1-4430017

Email: read (at) info.com.np / sanjana (at) readnepal.org
Web site: http://www.readglobal.org