As our newsletters become rarer and rarer, we finally have some good news regarding Nepal.
As many of you may know, the King of Nepal took full executive control in 2005, and was forced to relinquish it in April 2006 due to the second people’s movement which saw hundreds of thousands of Nepalis marching on the paths criss-crossing the mountains, hills, and flatlands, calling for the reinstatement of democracy and dialogue with the Maoist insurgents.
Later last year, the Maoists officially joined the government and started round-table talks for a new interim constitution, which would control the country whilst elections were held in June 2007 for a constituent assembly who’s job it would be to draw up the first democratic constitution of Nepal over a period of two years.
Whilst the elections have been put back to November 2007, many of the processes and changes have been remarkably quick and effective (when compared to other countries, for example Iraq or Sri Lanka), and have included acceptance of various political and state changes.
The upcoming elections in November, and the makeup of the constituent assembly have driven the clamoring by different groups to be recognised in time, and to have their issues placed on the ‘table’.
This has had huge security and infrastructure issues as the major group that were calling for recognition were the ‘Madheshis’, who can be broadly described as people of Indian descent, and have been ignored and marginalised by successive governments in Nepal.
The issues created by such groups have meant that many schools have been unable to open, or if they have opened, have only done so rarely and irregularly. As you can imagine, this has had effects on children, and therefore also for Himalayan Learning.
Visiting schools and children has been almost impossible. When some schools are 7-8 hours walk away, planning for visits becomes utterly unsustainable, and therefore whilst schools that are closer, or are near a vehicalised track, or are in the Tarai area can be reached and children checked, other schools as of now are still unreached, and whilst we have had meetings with teaching staff and so on, meeting the children (many of whom walk for hours to get to the school) has been virtually impossible.
Therefore we’re happy today to be able to announce that we have now visited 23 of our schools, and of those 23 have managed to distribute approximately 90% of our supplies, educational materials, and start several projects for this school year.
The schools that we haven’t yet reached are deep in the hills and very hard to reach when we are utterly unsure when they will be open. The lack of electricity and communications such as telephones or postal services has added to this problem.
We can also happily announce that so far the results have shown that most of our children have passed their exams (those that could be held) that were taken in April, May and June.
Furthermore, there has been another great sign of progress in the education of our volunteers and staff, many of you have heard that our coordinator, Rotna, is a Dalit (untouchable) and never got the chance to go to school. She is currently finishing her adult course and taking her SLC exams, which are the equivalent of GCSEs in the UK (children aged 16). Wish her good luck!
We have a team ready who will be heading out to the final schools on friday and hope to reach them later that day or the next. Our hope is that in the next few weeks we will be able to finally get them all registered too! Added to that, we are assessing a few new schools in the area, as we need to find more children to support for our superbly generous donors!