Written by Kerstin Sarow
The term ‘Social’ can be broadly interpreted; it could be used in context with the structure or age distribution of a population, the health and education system of a society, or even interactions between people. In this article, I am referring to educational development in relation to equality and equity, mainly for women.
In relation to Nepal, it has to be further contextualized to the unique geographical location of the country in correlation with its specific history. In 1769 King Prithvi Narayan Shah founded Nepal through the forceful unification of several small kingdoms and tribes, creating a kingdom of multi-cultures, religions, beliefs, traditions, and languages. Although first schools were set up in the mid-1800 (mainly for the Rana clan) compulsory schooling was not introduced before 1959, with Nepali as the official language (1). Over the following decades, free (public) schooling was implemented to 10+2 years of compulsory attendance, decreasing the illiteracy level from 95% in 1952 to 32% in 2018 (2; 3). However, girls and disabled children remain marginalized (3), resulting in poorer education and limited options for independence, work, and life choices.
Supporting these marginalized groups, ‘Samsara Creation’ dedicates time and expertise to attending and/or running workshops. The topics are relevant to and requested by the women.
In Godawari Forest, on the outskirts of Kathmandu Valley, the French NGO ‘Life Project 4 Youth’ has been providing training and education to young women from challenging backgrounds. More than 60 youth can be accommodated and trained for 3 months before becoming a valued members of the workforce, enabling an independent life for many.
Here, for example, ‘Samsara Creation’, accompanied by three other Kathmandu-based companies, followed an invitation to participate in workshops to advise on business-related topics such as administration and finances. The session was well conceived, with many questions asked and knowledge conferred to very attentive and interested young women. However, the training is rooted in creating a life based on self-sufficiency and sustainability, awareness, and responsibility towards consumerism and the planet.
Relaying that message to young children as well, visits to local public schools, such as the Gorakh Nath Secondary School in Kirtipur, were organized before the Corona restrictions and have to be continued soon. With a little fun and play small children will be introduced to sustainability and awareness of waste reduction, especially plastics.
Additionally, the team of ‘Samsara Creation’ does get involved in hands-on local waste collection activities as well. Members and volunteers of several organizations responded to the appeal “Earth day hike date with experts” in the hills of Godawary Forest. Like-minded people, most of whom did not know each other, spend a Saturday morning together doing a good deed in combination with brainstorming and exchange of experiences. Topics, such as waste collection and riverside dumping, empowerment of women through education, and the restrictive effect deep-rooted religious belief has on personal development for women, were discussed. Very often it was concluded that many projects need the support of the municipality of Kathmandu as well as the politics of Nepal. However, the young entrepreneurs were determined to follow their call to support a new and urgently needed change in politics with a focus on sustainability.
Summarising the event: That kind of meeting is a brilliant way of networking and exchange of positive as well as negative experiences including setting up new collaborations. At the same time the hill got a proper clearance and looked better, at least for a while.
(1) Pop, D., 2012. Education policy and equal educational opportunities [online]. Available from: https:// jstor.org [Accessed 28. April 2022].
(2) International Labour Organisation, 2018. Enabling environment for sustainable enterprises in Nepal [online]. Available from: https:// ilo.org [Accessed 12. April 2022].
(3) Shiwakoti, D., Shrestha, D., Lamichhane, P., Adhikari, K., Devkota, K., Shrstha, B., 2009. Education for all 2004-2009. Formative research project. Ensuring free and compulsory basic education for disadvantaged groups in the context of education for all [online]. Available from: https:// cerid.org [Accessed 28. April 2022].