RMF Nepal Grant and Finance Manager Gaurav Pradhan (right) and Karuna Girls’ School Principal Shankar Gautam by the new, RMF-funded school building
Education for Women
Lumbini is 205 km west of the capital city, Kathmandu, and has the lowest female literacy rate in Nepal, at just 18%. Issues such as the marriage of girls before age 12, parents’ reluctance to have their girls in school with boys after puberty, the dowry system, and restriction of women’s decision-making all play a role in suppressing the rights and potential of women in the region. On a larger scale, discrimination and lack of education for women contribute to Lumbini’s struggle with severe malnutrition, lack of medical care, and high infant and maternal mortality rates.
Karuna Girls’ School is working to change these statistics by providing education for girls from grades 6–12, as well as vocational training for underprivileged girls and women in Lumbini. Since this is an all-girls school, parents are more willing to allow their daughters to attend, and Karuna Girls’ School has gained some popularity in the region. During the course of 2016, the school grew from serving 150 students to 186 students. The curriculum emphasizes reading, writing, computer literacy, health, hygiene, nutrition, and family planning, while vocational training includes courses in computer literacy and tailoring.
RMF Nepal’s Gaurav Pradhan (left), teacher Virendar Chowdhary (middle), and principal of Karuna Girls’ School (right)
Providing Relief and School Building
RMF has been active in Nepal since 2015, when we arrived shortly after the devastating April 25th earthquake to provide emergency relief services and strategize a long-term plan to help strengthen education and healthcare systems in Nepal. We focused on strengthening Kanti Children’s Hospital, the only government referral level children’s hospital in Nepal; supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Kathmandu; and reaching the underserved populations of rural areas, such as Arupokhari and Bhotenamlang. Through our emergency relief work with Venerable Metteyya Sakyaputta founder of the Nepali organization Global Karuna, we also learned of Karuna Girls’ School in Lumbini, Nepal.
In August 2017, RMF began construction for a new 4-classroom building at Karuna Girls’ School with a capacity of 200 students. Construction of the building was completed in April 2018, and the building was officially handed over to the school management. This is a step in helping the school to meet its long-term goal of accommodating 500 students.
Currently, RMF’s new focus at Karuna Girls’ School is in supporting the salaries of two of the school’s teachers, Mr. Virendar Chowdhary and Mr. Sanjay Kumar Biswokarma.
RMF-supported teachers Virendar Chowdhary and Sanjay Kumar Biswokarma at the industrial fair with the students
A New Beginning
Handover of New Building to Karuna Girls’ School
After successfully completing the construction of the school building in April 2018, RMF Nepal proceeded to hand the building over to Karuna Girls’ School. A formal letter of handover was signed by RMF Nepal Program Manager Ganesh Shrestha and Karuna Girls’ School Principal Shankar Gautam. In November 2018, RMF Nepal Grant and Finance Manager Gaurav Pradhan traveled to Lumbini to complete the handover signing procedure. The school is now in the process of seeking additional funding to provide benches and desks for the classrooms.
During the handover signature meeting, Karuna Girls’ School Principal Shankar Gautam thanked RMF for its support in expanding the school’s capacity, which in turn allows it to educate more girls. He also requested that RMF Nepal continue supporting the school and help to further expand its services. After a discussion with RMF headquarters, RMF Nepal decided to continue helping the school by supporting the salaries of two teachers, starting in December of 2018.
Virendar Chowdhary and Sanjay Kumar Biswokarma are the two teachers whose salaries will be supported by RMF Nepal. They are working under the management of Karuna Girls’ School and following its procedures, while also adhering to the values and working culture of RMF. Mr. Chowdhary and Mr. Biswokarma were selected from the school’s current roster of teachers, and were chosen by RMF especially because, in addition to their teaching duties, they are involved in other aspects of school operations; Virendar Chowdhary is also the school accountant, and Sanjay Kumar Biswokarma is also a journalist for the Lumbini Khabar, covering school activities in the weekly newspaper.
Students enjoying a picnic and a day off
Karuna Girls’ School Activities
During the month of December, RMF teachers and their students participated in various extracurricular activities. On December 14, 2018, the students visited the industrial fair Bhairahawa Pradarsani Mela 2075. A total of 87 girls visited the fair along with the teachers. The main purpose of this visit was to familiarize the girls with industrial products and practices.
On December 20, 2018, Karuna Girls’ School took a total of 30 students to the Global Peace Park in Butwal. The school organized an annual picnic for the students for a small fee of 350 NPR, equivalent to about $3 USD, and interested students participated in the function. The girls were very excited for the trip, as it was a break from their daily studies and household activities. The teachers and students all cooked food and ate together. Overall, it was a great exercise for the students and teachers.