We all know how difficult the past year has been for schoolchildren here but for children in some of the most remote and marginalised communities abroad who have no access to technology it has been nearly impossible.
Even before the pandemic struck, 258 million children were out of school. The UN has estimated that 24 million children may never return to school after the pandemic. Concerns are that vital progress made in access to education will be pushed back by a decade.
Photographer Navesh Chitraker travelled for two days, from Kathmandu to the extremely remote and rural region of Sankhuwasabha to document this community where there has been little access to education for centuries. Even today in Sankhuwasabha and other rural areas of Nepal, only a third of the population completes primary education. The culture of education is new and fragile; there is little understanding of the importance of education, families are dependent on children’s help in the fields and at home and for many it’s just too far or dangerous to get to school.
Surya Karki, country director of United World Schools, Nepal, says: “Two-thirds of children that attend state schools drop out of the educational system before they finish secondary school.
“For children that are out of school in these remote areas, especially the girls, the future is precarious. They are more likely to be exploited for child labour and as many as 10 per cent of young girls are married by the age of 15.
“Our aim at UWS is to try to break the cycle of poverty by giving these children a life-changing education. We’ve already reached 6,800 children in Nepal – and 43,000 across all our programme countries – by developing schools, investing in local communities and innovating our programmes.
“There is 90 per cent chance that children at UWS schools succeed because we work with the community to make sure the investment is worth it. Our aim is that they become critical thinkers, that they continue to dream and explore. I wouldn’t say that every child is going to become a professional but I would say that none of these children will be exploited.”
Award-winning charity UWS has launched Happily Ever Smarter, a campaign to get thousands more children in remote parts of Asia into school for the very first time. It aims to raise £2m to build, resource and equip 70 new schools, train 375 local people as community teachers and reach 10,000 more children – to give them a chance to escape a cycle of poverty and transform their lives.
Donate to help children live Happily Ever Smarter before 29 July and the UK government will double your donations, to reach even more children in remote areas across Asia with a life-changing education. www.unitedworldschools.org