Skip to main content

Legal Help | Ayuda


Advocates Archive: The Sankhu-Palubari Community School Established (1999)

April 24, 2023

The Right to Education in Nepal 

by Valerie Tremelat, Program Associate with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights 

Soumaya, a twelve-year-old Nepali girl, stands on her porch listening to me speak with her father about education. She hears him talking about his hopes for his son who is receiving a good education. Soumaya wants to be educated and dreams of a better life just as her brother does. She comes closer to us. I ask the father, "what about your daughter, does she go to school?" Soumaya looks at her father. He responds without looking at her; "No, she's too old now, and she's just a girl. Her life is to stay home with her mother until she marries, then she'll be someone else's problem." 

There is a group in Sankhu village that has a different attitude about education. The Sankhu Palubari Community School is the creation of dedicated volunteers on opposite sides of the world. Located in the Sankhu village near Kathmandu, Nepal, the school is a project to promote human rights on a local level. This unique project is designed to promote a child's right to education and to decrease the chances that a child will find herself in a situation where she would be exploited for labor. 

There are many reasons that Nepali children do not go to school: their families cannot afford to pay the fees associated with public school, parents do not encourage the children to go to school, or the children themselves have no interest. 

Minnesota Advocates and the Sankhu Community School have been able to address each of these barriers. First, the school is completely free; books, pencils and paper, and lunch are provided at no cost. A local committee made up of community members has been meeting with the parents and discussing the importance of education with them. The parents are excited about the community school and are pleased to send their children there. 

Finally, the children themselves are enthusiastic about attending the school. They are happy to learn and they enjoy the lunch. 

As a representative of Minnesota Advocates, I conducted a visit of the school project in Nepal. From October 29 through November 2 1, 2000, I met with parents, the local community committee and worked with Hoste Hainse, our partner non-governmental organization. But the highlight was meeting the children. The children are all extremely poor, with families earning 5,000 Nepali Rupees or less annually (about $69 dollars). Most show signs of malnutrition and some come to school without shoes. However, they all showed an eagerness to learn and demonstrate what they knew: how to spell their names, how to add, how to sing and dance. 

It is every child's right to be educated and develop into the person he or she is meant to be. Nepal has ratified a number of international treaties that obligate the government to ensure these rights for children. 

However, the government has been slow to develop effective measures. In the meantime, too many children drop out of school and end up on the streets of Kathmandu. This project attempts to make the right to education a reality for the children in one village. 

This article first appeared in the Observer, the newsletter of The Advocates for Human Rights, Vol. XII, Issue 3, December 2000.

The Sankhu-Palubari Community School (SPCS) is a pre-K through 10th grade school located in the rural Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Founded by The Advocates for Human Rights in 1999 and operated in partnership with Educate the Children-Nepal and the local community, the school provides a genuine alternative to child labor to 375 of the most vulnerable students in the area. By providing a completely free, high-quality education, as well as a daily meal, the school makes the right to education a reality for hundreds of Nepali children.

Learn more about SPCS here.

The Advocates is celebrating 40 years of defending human rights. Throughout this year we are sharing stories and projects from our archives to shed light on the history of the organization, and the issues we work on.

Issue: Education