Educating girls, and through them villagesSujata Acharya used to worry that she would not be able to continue her education after passing the School Leaving Certificate exams. She knew her parents could not afford it.
Sujata Acharya used to worry that she would not be able to continue her education after passing the School Leaving Certificate exams. She knew her parents could not afford it.
But after passing her SLC exams in 2009, she got an opportunity to pursue higher secondary education at Kanya Campus in Pokhara through a scholarship programme introduced by Japan-Nepal Female Education Association (JNFEA).
The scholarship also included free accommodation. Sujata could not be more happier. She got the enrolment at Kanya Campus. Though she had to go to Pokhara, leaving behind her friends and family in Kapilvastu, it was the opportunity not to be missed.
Today, 22-year-old Sujata is back in her hometown, teaching at a local school. She knows how important education is and how it turned her life around.
“The scholarship was a turning point in my life,” she says. “I would not be in this position if I had not been selected.”
Besides working as a teacher, Sujata is studying for a bachelor’s degree these days. She has already earned a diploma from Bunkyo Gakuin University in Tokyo, Japan.
Her desire for learning remains undiminished.
Like Sujata, Pragati Chand Thakuri of Kailali also went to Kanya Campus under the same scholarship after passing her SLC exams in 2013. After graduating, she too returned to her district and took up a job as a teacher.
The scholarship programme is not only about educating girls but also about encouraging them to spread education in their villages. The girls selected for the programme have to sign a bond agreeing to spend at least three years teaching in schools in their district and try replicating the learning they got from the training. The JNFEA pays them for the period.
The JNFEA is the brainchild of Yasuko Yamashita, a professor form Japan. And it all started in 1996. After six months of study in 31 districts of Nepal, a team led by Yamashita, was shocked by the dismal state of girls’ education in the country. Yamashita then decided to do something about it. She came up with the idea of providing free education, accommodation and teacher training to the girls.
Yamashita’s plan was supported by Kedar Bhakta Mathema, the then Nepali Ambassador to Japan and former vice chancellor of Tribhuvan University.
The concept finally materialised in 2006, with the establishment of Sakura Dormitory in Pokhara where 10 girls were brought and provided free education, hostel and teacher training facility.
So far, 100 girls from various districts have benefited from the programme.
“I am excited to see our students’ performance both in study and teaching,” said Yamashita,who is also the chairperson of JNFEA. “I am sure all 100 girls will set an example in the areas they work.”
The Pokhara-based Sakura Dormitory will close by the end of this year. The JNFEA is taking the project to Dhanusha next. It is also planning to start a teacher training programme for community school teachers.
“This is a model project where girls don’t just get knowledge they learn the teaching culture,” said Mathema.