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Poverty and the school dropout rate in Nepal

When I started school, my parents earned less than $1 a day. It was hard for them to send their four children, including me, to school. Still, we all went. I’m now 23 and in my last year of a bachelor of science at the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences in Chitwan District in Nepal.

Many parents in my old neighborhood forced their children to leave school. Today, some of my friends have low-paying jobs as conductors or waiters. Others have been involved in illegal activity, and gone to jail.

I’m grateful to my parents for sending me school in spite of their problems. Recently, I’ve tried to find out why so many kids drop out of school in Nepal, and what can be done about it.

I contacted Rampur School near my university and learned their average dropout rate in the last 10 years was 8.7%. I decided to go door to door to gain fresh reasons from parents and students for their decision to leave school.

I went to more than 30 houses. Most parents were squatters with small homes.  We talked about the size of their families—most had more than six children—their source of income, and the reasons their kids dropped out.

The majority said sending their children to school resulted in extra cost and extra problems. Most agreed it was better for the whole family if children worked rather than attended school. Some said the school curriculum was weak on practical skills, and that education does not guarantee employment in Nepal.

A few parents admitted their children had been involved in robbery and risky behaviors since leaving school. One child was forced into prostitution after being sent to work in another home.

A parent told me: “Sir, you are wealthy, your parents were wealthy, and so you went to school. We have a problem just sustaining life each day, how can we send our children to school?"

I also talked to some kids. They mainly said pressure from their family caused them to drop out. Some left school because they understood the economic problems of their parents.

According to available data from the school, no kids returned after dropping out.

So what to do? I have joined the presidency of my school to help raise awareness of this issue, which I hope can be resolved one day. I think the government should do more to encourage children from struggling families to stay in school, and create more employment opportunities for educated young people. The school curriculum also needs to be more practical. If these changes were in place, families from low socioeconomic backgrounds would see more immediate benefits of education. I am a true believer that education is the cure for poverty.


Submitted by Mermagya on
Nice story. Higher education is the best ticket wherever you want to go. Unfortunately, in Nepal, children are either left out from going to school or those who go to school college are trained to burn tyre, carry political agendas of party, and vandalize public properties. Until politcal parties are kept off the education system, hardly any educational goal can be achieved and produce manpower who are talent, hardworking and creative.

Submitted by parmeshwor aryal on
nice job, mr. niraj, govt should address this problem, nowadays education needs money so poor people give up studying........

Submitted by Parmeshwor Aryal on
nice job mr. niraj, it's good to know about the situation but feeling bad about such situation here quality education depends on how much money u spend on it..... so poor people give up their education to fill their stomach..........

Submitted by Karleph on
Very good as argumentary, as speech as article. I wonder if the population and the Nepal government? Want really they fight against poverty, war and corruption? If yes what are the proofs or the projets done? Best regards

Submitted by Anonymous on
Niraj mentions many pertinent factors in this informative article... Sustaining life and hope in families at the lowest levels of the socio-economic sector requires diligent and prolonged efforts on the part of all involved-- families, community, educators, economic sector planners and employers, and governing bodies. The risk factors for economically-challenged, scarcely-educated youth of both genders include exploitation, crime, lack of adequate access and care, and the diminishment or absence of ability to provide needed change for subsequent generations. In some respects, however, the challenges of developing a curriculum in a developing nation can offer great opportunities to make the educational system and specific disciplines sustainable and interactive, capable of integrating the needs for community projects with the needs to develop career journeymen, administrative support, and service-sector jobs which fit the resource, geographic, and population profiles of the community/regional/national educational sectors. Even in the "developed" world, there are economically challenged people-- those not on aid, not receiving support, not covered by insurance. Much as in a developing nation, the children from these families frequently fall between cracks as well. Although scholarships might be available for university education, students must pass successfully through primary and secondary school courses which, even today, have little relevance to lives of economic privation. In a nation with many migrant workers, with first- and even second-generation immigrants who may not speak the primary language of the country, parents working long hours for very low wages often urge to their children to attain as high a level of education as possible, both out of necessity to have productive subsequent generations to bear the burden of family/geriatric care, and out of the desire to have a "better life" for their children. In any part of the world, family honor and support can provide valuable and life-long motivation. In any part of the world, lack of jobs, lack of prospects, and the escapes of substance or other addictions not only diminish the ability to cope, but add costly burdens and dependencies to those least equipped to overcome them. In any part of the modernizing world, the boon of wireless communications, internet, sms and other information/connectivity media can provide instant peer support (for all generations), perspective, and a hope for a wider, more integrated future-- IF such media are available. For students struggling to find relevance in education, virtual support and inspiration can add immeasurable resources and invaluable perspective to site-limited classroom experiences. In a world on the cusp of realizing how to survive, or fail to survive, sustainably with increasing competition for space and diminishing resources, relevant education and creative solutions to community-regional-global challenges are desperately needed. Acknowledging the potential for flexibility in the exceptional settings of developing nations, where majorities of populations have long survived with "less" could contribute to the validity of investment in the education of all sectors of populations needing employment, security and an understanding of how to live sustainably in an increasingly interdependent world. When everything is on the brink of change, if change can be measured, programs which eliminate exploitation, and maximize adaptation, access and ability, even for those least able to afford education MUST be included, whether or not impoverished earlier generations were able to themselves receive, or even understand the benefits of education beyond skills needed for mere survival. Children at or below the poverty line are no less able (and often are more able) to discern their differences of access and amenity. Free and fair educational systems should enable all students to maximize learning, potential for productive futures, and tolerance/respect for local-to-global issues, cultures and values, regardless of affluence or precedent. Involving educational administrations, government officials and community parents and leaders in planning, implementing and maintaining curriculum suited to sustainable-life-criteria is crucial-- in Nepal, or any other nation of the world.

Submitted by Umubyeyi on
this is sad but wonderfull. thank the Lord guy for that chance! many youth on this planet go throu the same but give up early.

Submitted by subarna sharma on
Nice one! keep it up, Niraj!!!