January 2010 Edition: Poverty in Nepal

Basanta Poudyal
Pathfinder Nepal
September 12, 2009
Pokhara, Nepal

Poverty in Nepal is caused by a lack of awareness and an uneducated society. Education plays a vital role in developing an individual, a family, society, and a nation. The social problems plaguing Nepal are largely caused by citizens failing to send their children to school, which is fueled by extreme poverty. Because of poverty, parents are unaware of the changes and improvements available in the lives of their children through education. Unfortunately, these parents are uneducated themselves and are incapable of understanding the advantages of education. Most parents prefer to send their children to work because this strategy provides either finances or other support mechanisms. Moreover, the lack of education among parents is contributing to the overpopulation and perpetual poverty in Nepali societies.

Primitive social beliefs, culture, superstition, and a conservative mentality are other problems plaguing these impoverished families. The people in the rural areas of Nepal believe they must birth many children, and involve these children in performing household activities. Parents further believe they will be economically secure with many children because they will have the necessary assistance when they become elderly. Based on this mentality, a lack of government pensions, and social security, children are the sole source of income for parents in their old age. Ironically, without education, these children will be incapable of managing themselves, their parents, or their children.

Poverty and the miserable family situations force these children to leave their homes in search of better lives; however, they are forced to become street people, child laborers, or criminals at a young age. Because of polygamy and a lack of governmental policies, thousands of children drop out of school per annum. In addition, if a man finds a second wife, the original wife and children must resort to begging or work to survive. Without education, they suffer heavily.

The conditions for women in Nepal are miserable; they are dependent on men, and are not financially or socially viable. In Nepal, women are still considered inferior to men. Many girls drop out of school at a young age; parents believe they will be married soon, and will become the responsibility of a man. Based on this factor, parents believe education for females is a waste of resources. Instead of formal education, parents teach females domestic activities, which is a contributing factor to underdevelopment and continued oppression of women in Nepali society.

A child’s right to education is well-established in international law, but in Nepal, it is a myth. Education is the fundamental right to every child; however, in Nepal, it is accessible only to the rich. Regretfully, people from lower social groups cannot manage to send their children to school.

Despite the advances made by Nepal towards the goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015, the school system in Nepal is still plagued by excessive drop out rates. According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Education, only 56% of the total grade 1 enrollees manage to complete the five-year primary cycle. Of these graduates, only 85% enter grade 6, and out of these children, 88% complete lower secondary. Of those who finish the lower secondary schooling, only 79% enter grade 9. Of the total grade 9 enrollees, approximately 12% manage to pass the School Leaving Certificate examinations. Based on these statistics, only 4% of the grade 1 enrollees manage to complete secondary school. With the waste of resources aside, the continuing loss of students in the educational system sustains significant repercussions on the governmental policies of bringing the members of ethnic and underprivileged communities into the national mainstream. The aim of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives and without it; they cannot make the necessary changes throughout their existence.