ADULT WOMEN LITERACY PROGRAM in Naya Bazaar,
Solu Khumbu, Nepal
by Nima Sherpa McElhinney, Director
The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation
With funding from The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada, this project started in June of 1999 in Naya Bazaar, a community of four to five hundred. There are 25 to 30 young mothers/women attending the adult literacy classes, five days a week for two hours a day. This is the first project of its kind in the area and has brought a lot of excitement to the community. The Adult/Women Literacy program is very well received and appreciated by all the participants who did not get the opportunity to learn to read and write. Despite the daily demands of looking after family, farm, social obligations and in some cases, small businesses, the participants are determined to improve their lives through this opportunity for education.
The goal of the program is to reach out to adult women to teach them how to read, write and learn simple arithmetic skills to improve the quality of their lives. To read and write letters, read government health and sanitation posters and pamphlets, or pass a note to a friend really does make a difference.
Nowadays, things are changing rapidly even in the remote areas of Nepal. People are experiencing the necessity to learn to read and write in order to cope effectively with completely new sets of challenges — like having to deal with telephone bills, electricity bills or marking up a calendar. Even a simple task of dialling a telephone is difficult without recognizing the numbers. This may sound very simple but for an illiterate adult it seems like an impossible battle.
Another change has been the increase in the number of younger people leaving home to far away places like India, America and Canada. For many mothers not being able to read their children’s letter and write to their children is very frustrating and sad. This program hopes to change that as well as the myth that you are too old to go to school if you pass the age of 14 or 15.
Miss Kanchi Maya Sherpa, a college graduate, runs the program with some training in adult informal classroom teaching methods. Hiring a female instructor especially one from the local community serves as a great role model for the local women and girls. Usually this type of role model is only seen on posters put up on a wall.