Women in Kalikot come out in droves to learn to read and writeWomen who took literacy class have started to learn self-employment skills in the villages.
Sunatara Shahi, a resident of Khin in Kalikot, had never received formal education until a year ago. In all her 27 years of life, she had never learnt to read and write but now she can write her name and carry out simple calculations.
“In the past, I had to use my thumbprint in official documents, but now I can write my name,” said Shahi.
Many women like Shahi who share a common goal of being literate have come out in droves to join the women literacy class run by Palanta Rural Municipality. Within a year, around 500 women have become literate, according to the data of the rural municipality.
“Earlier, we would hesitate to attend meetings and seminars in the village. But these days, we eagerly attend programmes and the first thing we do is sign our names in,” said Shahi.
Janakala Bishwokarma, 42, of Dhaulagoha is known to have spearheaded the literacy movement in the local unit. She is regarded as a hero in the villages. Bishwokarma, who learnt to read and write three years ago, said, “I learnt to read and write when I hit middle age. But it’s never too late. Learning to read and write also provided me with an opportunity to make an income.”
Bishwokarma runs a general store which she started with a loan from Laigurans Sabal Samuha, a local saving group in her village.
Women who took the literacy class have started to learn self-employment skills in the villages. Asha Budha, 29, of Ukhadi said she has started her own tailoring business in her own village after learning to read and write.
The rural municipality has been conducting women literacy classes for the past two years to improve the literacy rate in rural areas. The classes are being conducted in all nine wards, including Thirpu, Khin, Ukhadi and Dhaulagoha villages. The total population of the rural municipality is 15,300 with a literacy rate of 48 percent. “Only 37 percent of women are literate in Palanta,” said Dana Neupane, vice-chairperson of the rural municipality, citing that literacy classes have empowered women in the local unit.
“I also used to be a student in a literacy class in our village. I joined politics after learning to sign my name,” said Neupane, adding that six other women who studied with her in the literacy class have been selected in the ward committee.
Laxman Bahadur Bam, chairman of the rural municipality, said that Rs 15.5 million has been invested for the women literacy campaign.
“We have started a social transformation campaign by providing education to women,” said Bam. In the last fiscal year, the rural municipality had allocated Rs 4.5 million to make Palanta a literate rural municipality.