Dharmadhatu Foundation

"Transforming Self, Transforming World"
" Pioneering Culturally Appropriate Community-based development in Nepal "

Ramesh Tamang - Nepal
Oct 7 2010
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ECEP(Ethnic Children Education Program)

"We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today." tacia Tauscher BACKGROUND Nepal is one of the ancient Himalayan countries of South Asia. Although she is one of the smallest nations in the world, there is unmatchable richness of cultural and biological diversity. The country can be divided into three major geographic reasons; plain of tarai, hill, and mountain. The high hills and mountains of Nepal are gigantic that out of 10 highest peaks of the world, nine are in Nepal.

Biodiversity: Nepal is very reach nation for biodiversity. There are rare species of both flora and fauna in Nepal. Although the exact data is not available yet, many of species are listed into endangered species and are protected. Cultural diversity: There is a popular saying among the national/international researchers and travelers that in Nepal one can experience distinct and diverse cultural-lingual diversity within the distant of each kilometer.

WHO ARE ETHNIC PEOPLE IN NEPAL? The ethnic people are primarily people from Tibeto-mongoloid and Dravidian origin who do not belong to indo-Aryan origin and do not obey the Hindu laws of Varnasram or castes. They are the indigenous people of Nepal and are accredited for developing such a massively diverse languages and ethnicities. There are officially registered 59 ethnicities and 102 languages in Nepal.

Indigenous Nationalities: These people are recognized as historical nations. The historical nations/nationalities were submerged within the map of present day Nepal by the King Prthvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha principality around 240 years ago. For many groups, therefore, the conquest by the rulers of Gorkha and their subsequent unification of Nepal was an "exclusionary inclusion." (World Bank and DFID, Pg. 6, 2006)

Discrimination: These people have been under discrimination historically by the central high caste Hindu rulers for more than 300 years. Although restoration of democratic Nepal in 1990 had open thin access to ethnic people for nominal representation in the government body and other opportunities of socio-economic importance, largely the benefits of democracy didn't reach to the highly marginalized groups, which eventually perpetuated materialist ultra left revolution in the name of "Peoples War" by the CPN (Maoist). According to the recent studies carried on by the World Bank and DFID;

Democracy was established in Nepal in April 1990. It provided diverse groups space to express their opinions openly and to assert their identities and rights as citizens. However, the dominant order has remained largely confined to male Brahmans (Bahuns) and Kshatriyas (Thakuris and Chhetris) from the traditionally influential Parbatiya or Hill Hindu group, and the urban-based and generally well educated Newars. The democratic transition failed to deliver on the promise of an inclusive polity mainly because,like most institutions in Nepal, the political parties continued to operate on the basis of deeply embedded and mutually reinforcing feudal, caste and patriarchal norms and networks and were thus unable to represent and articulate the demands of all Nepalis. Those left at the margins were women; the "tribal" indigenous ethnic groups, the Adivasi janajatis or "Indigenous nationalities"; and the formerly "untouchable" castes now calling themselves Dalits ("opposed", "broken" or "crushed"). Pg. 3, 2006

The historical discrimination has effected severely in the human development of ethnic people of Nepal. There are clear messages that most of the indigenous populations and Dalit's (formally called untouchable caste) are disadvantaged and marginalized. The National Census indicates that 46% of the population above the age of six years and 56% above the age of fifteen years suffer from illiteracy. In Primary Schools, 19 % of children were not eligible for admission and only 45 % of children completed their Primary School education. These figures vary by region, gender and ethnicity however; it is the rural area females and ethnic minorities that are mostly deprived from educational attainments.

->The total number of children enrolled in ECD/PPCs by social groups and sex is 823,106 with 378,437 girls and 444,669 boys. Out of the total number there are 12.9% Dalit, 38.2% ethnic (Janajati) and 49% others.
->At the primary level, the enrollment share of Dalit is 19.2%, ethnic (Janajati) 40.9% and for others is 39.9%.
->The share of Dalit and ethnic (Janajati) enrollment at the lower secondary level is 9.8% and 40.3% respectively.
-> at the secondary level is 6.4% (Dalit) and 37% ethnic (Janajati)
[Source: Flash I Report 2064 (2007/08), Gov. of Nepal MoES, Department of Education, Sanothimi, Bhaktapur, 2007]

The need of ECEP was realized in the year 1999 AD, when our country Nepal was fully engulfed into civil war bringing severe consequences in the lives of children. Initially, in the year 2002 AD, fifteen children whose lives were severely effected by the ongoing conflict and were about to make early or/middle school drop-out were rescued from the rural villages of two districts of Sindhhupalchok and Dhading. They were immediately brought to our home in Boudha, Kathmandu and admitted into school. After two years, Makvanpur district was also included in the focus area with three students from this district in the program. Mission of the ECEP is achieve our Goal 4 and consequently helps achieve Goal 2 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that envisages universal access to primary education by 2015.

Although political conflict ended in November 2006 with Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between government and Maoist, the use of children for political mass protest hasn't stopped yet. The lack of school texts books across the nation often severely hampers education with irregular school or/class operation.

In the midst of such chaotic situation the public schools which provide excess to most poor households of rural and urban Nepal face lots of problems. Hence the need of children focused program like ECEP has been growing. Our focus has shifted from the conflict hit children to mostly SLC passed rural students who need initial support of at least 2+ years in order to continue their education urban environment of Kathmandu.

Pasang Tamang: Pasang was one of our first students who were rescued from their village school during the period of conflict in 2003. He passed grade-x (SLC) exam in 2006. After few months' income generative skill training, he left our home and begun to live on his own.

Dawa Tamang: Dawa was rescued from his school together with Pasang and brought to our home. He also passed grade-x (SLC) exam in the same year. Unlike Pasang, Dawa didn't like to leave DF home. He has received income generative skill training of painting Buddhist scroll painting "thangka." Presently he is continuing education with BA in Management.

Phulman Tamang: Phulman came to our home together with Dawa and Pasang. He passed grade-x (SLC) in 2005. He left DF home one year after he completed skill trainings. Now he lives on his own supporting himself. He works in guest service section of a local Resort in Kathmandu, which provides services to tourists.

Jigme Sange Lama: Jigme was a brilliant student of his school but was worried for his education since his schooling was highly affected by the ongoing conflict between Government forces and the rebel forces in the remote district of Sindhupalchok. He was brought to DF home together with his friends. He passed grade-x (SLC) exam in 2007 and now studies science in B.Sc.

Nima Sange Tamang: Nima was also one of the first batch students directly rescued from conflict hit areas of Sindhupalchok. He passed grade-x (SLC) exam together with Phulman in the year 2005. As like his friend Phulman, he left DF home after receiving skill training. He still supports himself with the skill of painting "thangka."

Dorje Dolma Lama: Dorje Dolma is younger sister of Jigme Dorje. She came together with her brother to DF home in 2003. Their parents also received support for four years in Kathmandu. Their father is a Buddhist priest who was forced to leave the village during the conflict period. He is still continuing her high school studies in grade-ix.

Kshitij Lama: Kshitij is from far remote village of Dhading district bordering Tibetan Autonomous Region. He came to Kathmandu in 2002 AD t the age of eight years with his uncle who assured his parents that their son will be admitted into monastery in Kathmandu. Failing to acquire seat for Kshitij his uncle brought him to DF home where he has been receiving good care and education until now. He is studying in grade-VIII.

Wangel Lama: Wangel also come from same village as Kshitij. When he arrived in our home, he was just six year old. He also couldn't get seat in monastery so he was brought to DF together with Kshitij. Now Wangel has reached to grade-VII and he loves to study.

Serap Lama: Serap coming from same village of Wangel is a brilliant thangka painter. He has been painting thangka for last five years. His works has been purchased by several buyers. During the morning hours he goes to school and in the day time he paints thangka in our own painting studio. He also has studied Tibetan script and Buddhist scriptures.

Popular Rumba: Popular is youngest among our students. Now he is eight years old. He is in standard II.

Kumari Tamang: Kumari arrived in DF home in 2006 after passing grade-x (SLC). She comes from the far north district of Sidhupalchok. Because of her parents poor economic condition she wasn't in position to continue higher studies. But with the help of DF she could continue higher studies. Now she studies in BBS (Year II). She also received skill of painting "thangka" and currently in charge of Selfhelp Art & Education Program.

Nirmaya Tamang: Nirmaya also arrived in the DF home in 2006. She comes from the southern district of Bara from the Tarai region of Nepal. With opportunity for higher studies, she also received intensive training on skill of painting "thangka." After completing training she left DF and begun to stay on her own. Now she studies in BBS (Year I) supporting herself through the skill of painting thangka.

Lila Blon (Tamang): Lila arrived in the DF home in 2005. He was rescued from boudha area where he was compelled to work as house painting labor by local contractor who kept him as bounded-labor without any opportunity to carry on his studies. He has received skill of painting thangka. He left DF in 2007 and now living in Boudha with a group of artists. He has been studying with self support.

Dawa Tamang: Dawa arrived in DF home in 2008 and stayed for 1 year. She comes from the southern district of Makawanpur. She received basic life-skills training then she left for higher studies in Kalingpong (India). In DF she took English language speaking and writing courses as well as computer window package practical course.

Yubaraj Tamang: Yubaraj also arrived in DF home in 2008. He comes from the southern district of Makawanpur. He has received skill of painting thangka and some lessons on Buddhist Iconography. He completed preliminary training courses within six months. Now he lives in his home in Makawanpur and paints thangka.

Kamala Tamang: Kamala arrived in DF home in 2008. She comes from the northern district of Sindhupalchok. She started higher studies a week after she arrived here. Now she is studying in the level of XI under the faculty of Humanities. She works as marketing officer in our micro-credit cooperative.

Srijana Tamang: Srijana is one of our students who came here before the project was launched. She comes from Sindhupalchok district. When the project ECEP was launched since then she has been receiving supports for her education and other needs. Now she works partly on her own to support her education. She is studying in grade XII under Humanities.

Navaraj Lama: Navaraj comes from southern district of Makawanpur. He arrived in DF home in 2005. In the begging Navaraj took some intensive lesions on improving English written and speaking skill. He has taken lessons on Buddhist philosophy and Himalayan language. Navaraj decided to be ordained monk therefore received ordination from Ven. Lama Mipham Rinpoche. He aims to do B.A. in Buddhist Studies from Kathmandu University and currently he is taking some intensive trainings and lessons in preparation for higher studies of Buddhist philosophy, Hermeneutics and Himalayan languages.

Dorje Tamang: Dorje came to DF home in 2008 for advance English language study (IELTS) and life-skill trainings. He completed IELTS preparatory lessons and life skills. He lived in DF for one year and left for his home. He comes from the southern district of Makawanpur.


Pema Tsering Tamang: Pema is one of our first batch students He arrived in DF in 2003. He has completed Bachelor in Education (B. Ed.) and now preparing for M A (Rural Development Studies). He is also co-coordinator of Dharmadhatu Youth Forum (DYF) a youth wing of Dharmadhatu foundation. Besides studies he has taken several leadership training for youths and has volunteered in several events.

Min Kumar Lama: Kumar joined us in 2006. He comes from the district of Sindhupalchok. He is one of our senior students. He is also a board member of organization. He has completed BBS (Bachelor in Business Studies) and now preparing for his MBS (Master in Business Studies). He has taken young entrepreneurship training. He works as Account Officer in our micro-credit cooperative.