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