MAHENDRANAGAR. Eighteen-year-old Rima Chaudhary spent a year of her childhood as a bonded labourer. But now she is an 11th grader who also teaches in her village.
Rima is part of the non-formal education classes operated jointly by World Education Nepal and Backward Society Education (BASE). She runs tuition classes for around 35 students from class one to seven and uses the earnings to buy her own books and stationery.
Her family's poor financial condition forced her into bonded labour for Rs 5,000 a year when she was just 10 years old. But she broke free and returned home, with a deep desire to go to school. "I wanted to study earlier too and had told my father about it. But I could not because we were too poor," says Rima.
After breaking away from bonded labour, Rima joined a nine-month course conducted by BASE and then was admitted into class four at the local school. She was among the top five students in her class and eventually passed SLC in second division. The village was astonished by her academic accomplishment, especially because most students drop out within a few years. "I want to graduate," says Rima. "But my father cannot fund my education. If I can earn, I will study."
According to BASE, there are about 25 informal education classes running in the district. Children who are unable to join a formal school or are so weak in their studies that they need to drop out join such informal classes. In addition to academic tuition, vocational training is also given. Rima's success story has encouraged others to enrol themselves into schools and value education, says BASE district coordinator Laxman Chaudhary, adding that the program will be continued in line with the interest of locals. And others like Rima will get an opportunity to earn as well.