Lumbini is 205 km west of the capital city, Kathmandu, and has the lowest female literacy rate in Nepal, at just 18%. Issues such as the marriage of girls before age 12, parents’ reluctance to have their girls in school with boys after puberty, the dowry system, and restriction of women’s decision-making all play a role in suppressing the rights and potential of women in the region.
Karuna Girls’ School is working to change these statistics by providing education for girls from grades 6–12, as well as vocational training for underprivileged girls and women in Lumbini. Since this is an all-girls school, parents are more willing to allow their daughters to attend, and Karuna Girls’ School has gained some popularity in the region. During the course of 2016, the school grew from serving 150 students to 186 students.
RMF’s current support to the school is in constructing a 4-classroom building and handing it over to Karuna Girls’ School. This is a step in helping the school to meet its long-term goal of accommodating 500 students.
After the lengthy process of pursuing all required permissions and documentation from Karuna Girls’ School and local authorities, the construction project is now fully underway. The contract between RMF and the chosen construction company, Lumbini Sanskritik Associated Pvt. Ltd., was signed on July 11, 2017, and the first installment was released to the contractor on July 26, 2017.
Due to exceptionally heavy rainfall at this time, completion of the first construction phase was delayed by a month. Because of this, the first phase of construction was completed at the end of September.
RMF Nepal Program Manager Ganesh Shrestha visited Lumbini on September 22, 2017 for quality assurance, verification of the construction, and authentication of bills and invoices. During his visit, he inspected the quality of materials used, verified the extent of construction tasks completed, and met with the administrators of Karuna Girls’ School. He also had a meeting with the contractor and the engineer of the municipality and oversaw installation of the RMF signboard at the construction site.
The principal of Karuna Girls’ School, Mr. Shankar Gautam, was very satisfied with the construction work. Overall, construction of the first phase has been carried out satisfactorily.
Karuna Girls’ School was founded in 2013 by Global Karuna, a branch of the Nepali organization Lumbini Social Service Foundation (LSSF). The school is Lumbini’s only inclusive all-girls school, where girls can study regardless of religion or caste.
RMF began working with Global Karuna shortly after the April 2015 earthquake, and we are pursuing plans to construct an additional building for Karuna Girls’ School and, in partnership with the school, develop a nursing and midwifery program.