The Sankhu-Palubari Community School (SPCS) in Nepal provides a free education — from pre-K through grade 10 — to the neediest children in this rural Kathmandu Valley area. Founded by The Advocates for Human Rights and operated in partnership with Educate the Children-Nepal and the local community, the school gives a genuine alternative to child labor and a brighter future.
The SPCS curriculum includes Nepali, English, grammar, math, science, and social studies. Extracurricular opportunities include poetry, art, music, Nepali dance, speech, and sports. Students also learn the fundamental principles of human rights through “Alfulai Chinau,” a human rights curriculum developed especially for the school. The school also provides a daily meal, health checks, and immunizations for all students.
An estimated 2.6 million Nepali children between the ages of 5 and 14 are child laborers. Children work in in dangerous conditions in brickyards, carpet factories, and quarries, or in agricultural and domestic work. Nepali children are also vulnerable to being trafficked to India.
Because Nepali public schools generally charge administrative fees and fees for books, exams, and uniforms, struggling families like those in the Sankhu-Palubari community cannot afford to educate their children. (When the school opened in 1999, more than 50 percent of the 10,000 of the community’s residents were unemployed.) Uneducated and illiterate, children grow up to be impoverished adults, continuing the cycle of poverty.
Many students are members of Nepal’s most marginalized indigenous groups and lower castes — such as the Dalit — who might otherwise be forced to work. SPCS promotes equal access to education for low-income families, and welcomes children regardless of caste, ethnicity, or gender.
Another SPCS focus is supporting girl students so that they stay in school. Currently, more than 50 percent of students at SPCS are girls, a huge gain in the percentage in place when the school first opened. The school has made remarkable strides towards gender parity in a country where education of girls is often not valued equally with education of boys.