Our children’s programs ensure that many more children (especially Dalit girls) stay in school, benefit from preschool through high school education, and even earn college degrees. Find explanations below on the following programs: the Sponsorship Program, Jumpstart Program, Blue Shirt Program, and Ambitious Girls Fund. The children’s programs help students in rural areas to not only realize their potential but to end the cycle of poverty and disempowerment.
The Sponsorship Program is one of Friends of ADWAN Nepal’s most popular programs in which donors exchange letters and build a relationship with their sponsored child. Each Women’s Group identifies children whose families live in such abject poverty that the children are needed to work rather than attend school. Children as young as five contribute to the household either by performing their mother’s chores while she works or by getting a subsistence-level job themselves. Sponsors contribute $200 annually to support the family’s food and clothing needs. This amount makes it possible not only for the student to study, but also to perhaps become the first in the family’s history to break the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.
The Jumpstart Program provides preschool to the children of Women’s Group members. Preschool-age education unequivocally makes it far more likely that a child will thrive in school from kindergarten to college while also enabling mothers to focus on income-generating activities without worrying about the quality of care they’re receiving.
The Blue Shirt Program provides $10 stipends to the children of members of new Women’s Groups. This stipend covers primary- and secondary-school students’ blue shirt uniform, books, and school supplies. The stipend is provided for three years as an incentive to the women to send both daughters as well as sons to school. (Girls are often kept at home to help with household chores and prepare for early marriage.) ADWAN’s staff has observed that it takes at most three years for mothers to commit to making their daughters’ education a priority and they continue to pay school fees after the program ends. This message about the importance of educating girls is then passed from mother to daughter.
The Ambitious Girls Fund (AGF) awards scholarships to Dalit and other marginalized girls pursuing higher education. The scholarships benefit girls who pass the difficult School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam at the end of 10th grade and who want to attend 10+2 (Nepal’s 11th and 12th grades, similar to American community college) in order to earn a skilled job or be eligible for college. Each girl receives $150 a year for school fees and room and board while they attend 10+2 in a city away from home. Additionally, a limited number of girls obtain a larger sum to complete a bachelor’s or technical degree. AGF empowers girls to reach their full potential, thus changing their lives and enabling them to give back to their rural communities.
These programs especially benefit Dalit children because they have the lowest levels of educational attainment and literacy of any group in Nepal. Dalits drop out of school at high rates, especially elementary school. The enrollment rate of Dalit children in primary school is only 20% (in stark contrast to the national average of 94%). Consequently, the literacy rate for Dalits is 33% (exactly half the literacy rate for the general population of 66%). Additionally, only 4% of Dalits pass the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam required to graduate high school (compared to 18% of students nationally) and 0.4% of Dalits earn a Bachelor’s or above (while 3% is the national average).