Nepal, in spite of its natural beauty, remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Nepal’s economy is largely based upon agriculture and tourism with 90% of its 20 million population engaged in subsistence farming. Sadly, the country’s national average annual income is below £130 with many existing on less than £2 per month. In the capital, Kathmandu, there is a massive gulf between the rich and poor as many more people migrate to the capital in search of work.
What is Birkdale's link with Nepal?
Birkdale School has built a school for children from very poor families to attend. Since 2000 we have helped some of Nepal’s poorest children in the Kathmandu Valley. We have raised funds for deprived and needy children living in environments and conditions that dictate that education has either ceased to be available, or is simply not an option. We endeavour to change the life and future opportunities for these children with the support of our pupils and their families.
Education in Nepal
The government of Nepal struggles to provide even a basic education system for their children. 60% of the population is illiterate and there is a critical shortage of school teachers. Only half of the existing teachers actually have a formal training. Many parents choose not to educate their children because of the cost of tuition fees, uniforms and books. Instead these children often remain at home helping with washing, cooking or caring for their siblings. As a consequence they remain trapped in poverty.
How do we help?
Through our many school fundraising activities since 2000, the village of Kokhana, a desperately poor village in the Kathmandu Valley, now has a thriving and successful school called the Peace Garden English School with nearly 300 pupils.
Every year we send pupils from Birkdale to visit the community of Kokhana during our Easter holidays. There the pupils spend time teaching in the Peace Garden School, which has proved to be a lifechanging experience for many of them.
About 10 minutes walk from Kokhana is a leprosy colony with about 500 families living there. Here we have helped to build a church and a health centre. We are also hoping to provide an education for the children here who have never had a school in the leprosy colony.
Below is a video of highlights from the trip to Nepal in Easter 2013. The song is written by Joe Rose (Old Birkdalian).
“It is almost impossible to say to you what a huge difference Birkdale School has made to our village, our children and to our children’s future. We now have children who are teaching their parents simple things from cleanliness right up to how to do computer work. Parents come to school and see toilets and washing hands places and want them for themselves. The building of the school has helped the local tradesmen and labourers to prosper too. Even the tailor who makes the school uniform is happy. People in our village are so proud that our children can now have a good education and maybe go to College and change the life for the whole family and perhaps the whole village.”
Arjen, Headmaster at the Peace Garden English School
In Nepal education is clearly one of the only ways children can escape a life of poverty. It gives them an opportunity to seek employment beyond subsistence farming, giving them and their families a better quality of life. And there are still other schools in the region which desperately need our help.