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Nagina Sada dreams of a bright future after Functional Literacy Class programme

Girls in Nagina Sada’s community in Marchaiya village of Ramdhuni, Sunsari, often get married as adolescents, becoming mothers even before reaching the legal age for marriage. She knew she wanted to avoid the same fate and is grateful that the Functional Literacy Class (FLC) programme held by UNESCO gave her the information she needed to advocate for herself.

“I could always see that the girls who married young were not doing well,” she says, “but the class really clarified how child marriage is bad for girls’ welfare because it denies them education, as well as is dangerous for their reproductive health.”

Sada, 15, had dropped out of school after Grade four because her parents couldn’t support her education. Her eldest brother has a developmental disability which made things particularly difficult for the family. So, she agreed to quit her studies to help her mother with household chores. “I was very sad because my mother didn’t have any help, so even though I was disheartened, I thought that I should quit school to help her,” she says.

The literacy programme, which is supported by KOICA, helped Sada’s transition back to school.

She came out of the programme determined to continue her studies. “During the classes, I dreamed of continuing my studies so afterwards I convinced my parents to let me enrol in school,” she says. “I said that school will be free and that I will be able to manage household chores while studying.”

FLC facilitators also helped. They assured her parents of her potential and that school wouldn’t cost them anything, and talked to the local school. “They facilitated my interview with the headteacher at the school, and I enrolled in Grade five.”

Sada is keenly aware of the pressures that may disrupt her education. “I am afraid that I may have to quit my studies again due to poverty,” she says. “I may have to take up work, like a construction site labourer, to help my family,” she says.

The pandemic has compounded those pressures. “My parents lost their daily wages and had to depend on their savings,” she says. “Schools were closed so I didn’t have regular classes. I’m afraid I’ll lose what I have learned.”

However, Sada remains committed to her education. “I want to become a bank manager because it’s a good job that will help me provide for my family,” she says. “And I need to study beyond Grade 12 for that.”

Her parents are also now supportive of her ambitions. “She’s a clever and confident girl and is showing that she is very capable,” says her mother. “Her father also says that she should pursue whatever she wants.”

Nagina Sada believes that programmes like FLC encourage girls like her to imagine a better future. “FLC really helped me and can help other girls see that marriage is not the only option. And I want to help encourage them to resume their studies, too.”

About the UNESCO-UNFPA-UN Women Joint Programme

“Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through the Provision of Comprehensive Sexuality Education and a Safe Learning Environment in Nepal” is a Joint Programme led by UNESCO, UNFPA, and UN Women with support from KOICA aiming to empower girls and young women through an integrated approach to education, health, and gender equality. For more inquiries, contact the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu at kathmandu@unesco.org