PDRC Nepal – Education to overcome poverty and gender discrimination

By Denise Nanni and Milena Rampoldi, ProMosaik. Today, let us go back to Nepal to talk to Rup of the Professional Development and Research Center. The Center strongly believes in the power of education to change the world. Education can help people to overcome poverty, gender discrimination, violence, and marginalization. 



What are the reason that lead to a lack of access to education in Nepal?
The main reasons that lead to lack of education are historical discrimination, poverty, gender discrimination, geographical barriers etc. 
How do you identify youngsters that could benefit from your programs?
We have clearly defined five indicators trough which we identify the students for support and they are: a) socially and economically deprived groups b) excellent academic standing c) inclusion within Dalit community d) geographical proximity and e) students performance in written exam and interview. 
In what ways do you promote youth education?
We have been promoting youth education through information dissemination about the opportunities available in higher education at home and abroad, granting scholarship, helping government to implement its reservation policy in the education sector, conducting preparation classes for competitive exams in medical, engineering as well as public service exams. In addition, we are also engaged in policy research and advocacy on inclusive education, with especial focus on Dalit’s higher education in Nepal. 
Do you carry on any specific initiative to girls/women?
We give priority to the girls in our services and programs. We have a GESI policy in place which seeks to guarantee 50% woman participation in our programs and services. From 2006 to 2011, we launched one program that is called Empowering Dalit Daughters (EDD). For your information, Dalit are the group of people who are placed at the bottom of social hierarchy and treated as untouchables. Dalit woman face double discrimination in our context- gender and caste.
Back in 2006, PDRC took steps to change that, through “Empowering Dalit Daughters,” a scholarship program for Dalit girls.
It embarked on a nationwide talent hunt to select 25 talented and motivated Dalit girls. They received scholarships to prestigious colleges in Kathmandu, as well as food and accommodation at a hostel in the capital for six years.
The objective of the program was to create role models out of these girls, which we then believe would help make people aware about the importance of educating their daughters. It was also an effort to bring the leadership developed at local level into national level.
By now, almost all students have completed their master’s degree, also have landed job in different prestigious national and international organizations. They have become the role models in their community and people have started putting their daughter’s education in the top most priority. If they were not brought to Kathmandu through this program, I suspect they would have got married quiet early and probably would be confined to the household chores like their peers. Therefore, this is one of the highly successful programs of PDRC. This program also means that opportunity matters significantly. 
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
Yes, we work closely with the local government agencies and institution. Generally, we seek the approval from the concerned authorities prior to implement the project. This helps us to get support to implement the program in the local level. For examples, immediately after the earthquake, we provided educational materials to 1205 children in the 30 community schools in 2 districts severely hit by the earthquake. Similarly, we also provided life skill trainings to 30 youth from the same district. For this to happen, we took the prior approval from concerned local line agencies and this also helped us to avoid the duplication. Similarly, local authorities also helped us to provide the data, which again made our work easy and convenient. Most importantly, collaboration with the local agencies also means the recognition of your work by the government.