“At last, I can write my name and address!” says Subhagya Mahato, a 40-year-old woman from Bacchauli, Nepal, who is happy to finally be able to recognize the Nepali alphabet, and to no longer have to use her fingerprint as a signature.
In a country with an overall literacy rate of only 60% (less than 50% for women), rural communities often have the largest populations of people who cannot read and write. But Nepal is committed to eradicating illiteracy by bringing communities together in the desire to learn to read through the Literate Nepal Campaign.
As part of this campaign, the Bacchauli Village Development Community (VDC) of Chitwan, Nepal was declared fully literate on July 19, 2014. Bacchauli is the 18th VDC of Chitwan district to be declared fully literate.
Spearheading this effort in Bacchauli, the Jhuwani READ Center conducted 40 literacy classes from April-June 2014 in partnership with the District Education Office of Chitwan, teaching 828 people how to read.
The announcement of full literacy was made at a celebration hosted by Jhuwani READ Center after the successful completion of the three-month literacy program.
Of the 828 people who learned to read, 91% were women.
The literacy campaign was implemented under the leadership of Jhuwani Center, which provided 30% of the funding for this project, with the District Education Office of Chitwan funding the remainder. The Srijansil Community Learning Center, Jhuwani Higher Secondary School, and Bacchauli VDC monitored the literacy classes conducted at Jhuwani READ Center.
Prior to the program, a total of 1,024 villagers were illiterate. Today, only 96 people over the age of 65 are still illiterate.
The literacy rate of Bacchauli VDC is now 99.12%.
At the announcement of full literacy, Mr. Bharat Mani Pokhrel, a local development officer and member of the District Education Committee, emphasized how important literacy is in improving the living standards of people in the community.
Jiyan Mahato, who participated in the literacy campaign, shared how learning to read has helped daily life: “In this modern era, literacy skills have helped old people like us to use mobile phones.”
Bacchauli VDC is not stopping at complete literacy – they have further plans for the economic empowerment of the area. The participants of the literacy classes will also enroll in income generating trainings at Jhuwani READ Center to build on the literacy skills they have learned this year.
The government of Nepal has set a goal of making all people literate by the end of 2015. READ is also active in the Literate Nepal Campaign at the Janajagaran Center in Nuwakot and Laxmi Narayan Center in Lamjung.
We look forward to more collaboration in this groundbreaking campaign to eradicate illiteracy in Nepal, and congratulate Bacchauli on this amazing accomplishment!
About the author:
Helen Greene, READ Global Communications Intern
Helen is a senior at Princeton University studying Comparative Literature. Home for the summer of 2014, she joined READ Global as a Communications Intern, writing blog and social media posts, among other things. She looks forward to a career in the non-profit field focusing on women’s empowerment, health, and education.