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The UN estimates that 57 million school-age children are currently not in school and research shows progress towards universal enrollment is slowing. These out-of-school boys and girls are being denied their basic human right to access a quality education and without it their future opportunities are dramatically limited.
In Nepal, children as young as 11 carry heavy loads for days at a time and have no chance of receiving the benefits of a basic education. In response to this need, our Quality Education program, operating in one of the poorest regions of rural Nepal, helps ensure that all children have access to primary education and is closely aligned to U.N Millennium Development Goal 2 - that all primary school children should have access to full time education.
This far reaching program extends educational opportunities beyond the well resourced Upper Solu Khumbu region in the vicinity of Mt Everest and focuses on the impoverished districts of the Lower Solu Khumbu that are in dire need of educational support. The key challenge facing education in rural districts of Nepal is not building more schools but improving the quality of the education delivered, so children are equipped with the kind of education that changes lives.
This 15-year program aims to help over 42,000 children and 1700 teachers in over 300 schools. We are deeply proud of the difference made so far including the training of 1050 teachers in over 200 schools resulting in:
The program also includes support for Key Teacher workshops designed to fast track the most able teachers so that they can eventually train other teachers – creating a truly sustainable program. The AHF has to date trained over 55 local teachers in the region who have now become teacher trainers themselves.
Our TTQE Program has been described as one of the most ambitious in rural Nepal. We are well on the way to improving the educational outcomes in over 300 schools, boosting skills of more than 1700 teachers and providing a better education for nearly 42,000 children in the impoverished districts of the Lower Solu Khumbu (Everest) region, a world away from the popular trekking trails. Our program delivers a series of workshops to improve the training of primary school teachers and introduce the concept of child friendly teaching methods.
We are currently entering the 9th year of the program and are now focused on expanding into the Necha district of the Lower Solu Khumbu. As with all the districts in the south of the Solu Khumbu, there is a dire need for educational support with low literacy and attendance rates and poorly resourced schools.
Promoting the true value of education is integral to the success of the TTQE program. We work with the wider community – including local community groups and parents and teachers associations – with year round workshops as well as Child Clubs to help children appreciate their rights and role in the educational process.
Above all, we recognise that quality education empowers children to achieve their full potential. We are committed to a sustainable program not only through regular community support and liaison with the district authorities, but also with our innovative Key Teacher workshops that train the most talented teachers to pass on their skills to their fellow teachers. The AHF also provides resources to schools where even the provision of basic textbooks and teaching aids is considered a luxury.
The regular reports from the TTQE program leave little doubt that we are on the right track. We recently conducted a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation report, which demonstrated that teaching records are improving, attendance rates (particularly for girls) are showing a remarkable increase and overall education outcomes are improving.
On the ground our program is managed by our dedicated project partners REED (Rural Education & Environment Development), a Nepalese NGO based in Kathmandu and our Program Co-ordinator, Jim Strang who was instrumental in establishing the original teacher-training program run by Sir Edmund Hillary.
A further dimension to the program is the valued contribution of a select team of volunteer teachers from Australia and New Zealand who work with REED in the field. If you are interested in volunteering please apply here.
As part of our TTQE program, we supply school scholarships for children in the greatest need of educational support. There are many families living away from the major tourist trails that cannot afford to send their children to school. Additional expenses such as school uniforms, lunches and text books make school out of reach for many of these families however through this program we are helping to bridge the gap. We currently support 500 children to receive an education with a priority focus on girls, disabled children and dalit (untouchable) boys
Educational materials are also an important component of our Quality Education program and critical to its long-term success. For many of these schools in this remote region, books are a rare luxury and stationery often unheard of. The AHF is supporting these schools with a regular supply of the necessary basics including pens, paper, writing books and textbooks.
The AHF is working in some of the remotest corners of rural Bhutan to deliver a girls education program where children often walk up to 3 hours a day just to reach the nearest community primary school. These children are from isolated communities that experience extreme poverty and girls in particular are often affected. AHF supports girls’ education in these communities and is striving for gender parity in enrollment rates through a school scholarship program that enables these girls to attend school. The scholarships provide school meals, uniforms, textbooks and the building of girls boarding facilities. The funding of these resources ensures that just as many girls attend school as boys.
High in the foothills of the Himalaya in north-west India, the AHF is supporting education for Tibetan children living in Salugara, one the most important Tibetan communities in India. Here, the schools support the preservation and development of traditional Tibetan culture and AHF supports children from the poorest families in the region to receive an education.
Lower Solu Khumbu
Cervical cancer is the number one cause of cancer death for women between the ages of 20 and 50 in Nepal, and far exceeds even breast cancer. Currently less than 5% of women in Nepal receive cervical cancer screening. Through an education and prevention program, the AHF is partnering the Australian Embassy to support the Nepal Network for Cancer Treatment and Research (NNCTR). This program is also focussed on the disadvantaged regions of the Lower Solu Khumbu and in 2012 we launched a cervical cancer vaccination project followed by a series of breast and cervical cancer screening and education workshops, successfully screening over 3500 women by 2013.
In memory of AHF Founder and Director Lincoln Hall, we have also recently launched a new project that will serve to further strengthen our Solu Khumbu Health program. The project will support maternal health care and service delivery for pregnant women, mothers and newborn babies. The project covers both antenatal and post natal care and involves funding and training two dedicated maternal heath care nurses for the region.
Ladakh, Indian Himalaya
Zanskar is one of the most remote regions in the entire Himalaya. It is a region of Ladakh in the Indian Himalaya and during winter the heavy snows cut it off from the outside world for over six months of the year. During this time medical facilities are non-existent and villagers rely heavily on the amchi - traditional medical healers - for primary health care. Sadly, the region has unacceptable rates of infant mortality, often as high as one in two children. Our aim is to decrease these tragic rates of infant mortality and assist with improving maternal healthcare in the region – both of which are part of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
We do this by funding annual workshops to provide training to the traditional amchi aimed at improving their traditional health care practices as well as enhancing them with modern health care techniques. These workshops are well attended by the amchi in the region who in some cases trek up to one week to participate and over the last seven years, the AHF is proud to have gained the confidence and co-operation of the amchi, which is essential for long-term success of this project.
The response of the female amchi has been particularly encouraging, with many undertaking further training in the government hospital in Leh, the capital of Ladakh as well as monitoring prenatal visits births in their own villages, educating new mothers and passing on their knowledge to other community members.
In 1974, Snow Leopards were internationally declared an endangered species however today the population continues to decline. There may be as few as 3500 leopards left in the 12 countries in which they are still found and many of these are found across the Himalaya. Humans are largely responsible for the Snow Leopards decline - poachers hunt them for their pelts, body parts are used for traditional medicines and the leopards often come into conflict with local farmers. The AHF is working closely with the Snow Leopard Conservancy to protect the endangered snow leopard through partnerships with local communities in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The SLC supports community-based protection of these big cats through grass-roots conservation initiatives, environmental education, training of herders in wildlife monitoring and research blending traditional knowledge and modern science.
Conservation and education activities are designed in consultation with local communities, building foundations for locally driven wildlife conservation. Through this partnership, we provide basic training in improved animal husbandry and other livelihood skills to eliminate the threat of poaching and unnecessary killing of snow leopards.