How poverty is keeping children deprived of education
Nepal – Chhayanathrara Municipality-9’s Mugu in Nepal has some heart wrenching stories of children who should be in school, gaining knowledge and education like a normal child. Instead they are not. Sarjan Rawal is a third grader but rarely does he get time to attend classes in his primary school in Karkibada. His time gets lost in doing chores at his home, thus keeping him away from school. The second of three siblings, Sarjan is expected to help his family that makes a livelihood from rearing goats and cows. “I have a lot of work at home and never get time to do homework. I sometimes herd cows and goats and collect fodder for them at a nearby forest,” said the boy. “I do okay at school. But if I have more time and attend classes regularly, I can do better.”
This is just one story. Like Sarjan many other children of school going age in Mugu, Nepal, are expected to help their parents in fields, home, and many times have to take up odd jobs to support the families financially. Families share their plight that they have no option but to engage children in the work due to poor financial condition. Sarjan’s uncle, Dhanraj Rawal said, “We know the children should be in school, but we need all hands we can manage since we can’t hire help to collect fodder or take care of animals.” “The meagre agricultural production a family generates in a year is not enough to see the family through, therefore, the vicious cycle of children staying out of school continues as rural families struggle to make ends meet,” said Bishnu Kumar Bham, the ward chairman of Chhayanathrara-4.
Harichandra BK of Rugagaun, a nine year old boy, has to walk over a hour to Gamgadhi every day to sell the firewood that he collects from forest close to his home. He is able to send the wood for Rs 450. “If my family and I don’t sell firewood, we will have nothing to eat,” said BK. “I can’t afford to go to school because if I do, there is one less person at work and that greatly affects our income.”
Chhayanathrara Municipality’s education and youth system shares that at least 60 per cent of children in Mundu, Sayakhola and Kotilla are deprived of education due to poverty. “We tried our best to get every child to attend school but we haven’t been able to do so,” said Khadak Rokaya, chief at the education unit. “The academic performance of the students who manage to attend school is very poor. All the students work in the fields or do odd jobs to help their families financially so they don’t have the time to focus on their studies.”