Nepal: Laxmi - A Dream Fulfilled
Born in a family with four other siblings, Laxmi never had the
opportunity to go to school. Her parents, who were poor, chose
to send their only son to school in the Udayapur District
in Eastern Terai of Nepal, and deprived the four daughters,
including Laxmi, of even a basic education.
"I used to watch some of the girls of my village going
to school and dream about being with them, having my own books,"
Laxmi says. "One day a teacher informed me, some of my
friends, the local health post staff, and some people from
my village about the GATE class. Once I told her that I was
very interested in joining the class, she and others convinced
my parents to let me do so."
Laxmi joined a GATE class in 1998, attending 6 two-hour classes
a week for 9 months. In an interview after completing the
GATE Program, Laxmi said, "I felt very happy in my class.
Our facilitator was like a friend and we were always encouraged
to learn from and help each other. Nine months passed with
great fun. I never imagined that learning could be fun. After
we learned to write few short sentences, we were encouraged
to write in our journal everyday, whatever we felt about our
class or life. The GATE class brought a great change in my
life." Laxmi's enthusiasm was clear-she topped the class
at the end of the year, scoring 83% marks. World Education
chose her as the Best GATE Student of the Year, 2000.
"After my parents found out about my ability to learn,
they decided to let me go to the local school." Laxmi
was admitted into Class 4 after taking the school admission
Laxmi has continued her study and is currently in middle school
in Class 8. This year, she was also selected to be a facilitator
of a GATE class run by the Nepal Red Cross Society with support
from World Education. She is very proud to now group of 22
girls who would not otherwise be able to go to school. Today,
Laxmi is continuing her own education; she is determined to
complete at least her School Leaving Certificate examination
after finishing Class 10, and look for better opportunities
such as continuing her schooling or finding a job.
Two-thirds of adolescent girls in rural Nepal are not enrolled
in formal schools. These illiterate, out-of-school girls are
destined to lives of low status and limited opportunities.
In 1998 World Education began the Girls' Access to Education
(GATE) Program by developing a nine-month literacy curriculum
that integrates adolescent health and girls' empowerment information
and literacy training. While girls learn how to read, write
and do basic mathematics, they learn about basic nutrition,
reproductive health, the consequences of early marriage, early
pregnancy, unsafe sex, STIs, and HIV and AIDS.
Girls who participate in GATE achieve a basic primary education.
This is an extraordinary and life-changing accomplishment
for a low-status, illiterate girl, but it is only half the
story. Many GATE graduates, like Laxmi Katel, then enroll
into the formal school system to continue their education.
World Education builds local capacity and works through a
network of NGOs to implement the program.
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