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Nepal March for Education 2009

Day 1 (8 September 2009)

Compulsory and Quality Education as a Fundamental Right is the Foundation of 'New Nepal'

Mahendranagar (Western Nepal), 08 September 2009 – it was a historic day in the democratic Nepal when the Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal flagged off the Nepal March for Enforcement of Education from Mahendranagar on 8th September 2009. As the world marked International Literacy day today, Prime Minister Mr. Nepal gave a new slogan “Compulsory and Quality Education as a Fundamental Right for New Nepal”. Prime Minister was responding to a call by former Kamaiya (bonded) and child labourers, children out of school, victims of exploitation and the 25,000 strong commoners for inclusion of free and quality education as a fundamental right in the new Constitution of Nepal.

Prime Minister Mr. Nepal also thanked the founder of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Chair, Global March Kailash Satyarthi for coming all the way from India to show solidarity with Nepal and its children. “We have all come together as one, coming together for all our children and our future.He urged Mr. Satyarthi to work on all fora and involve Nepal in Fast Track Initiative on Education for All. ”

The Nepal March for Education organized by Backward Society Education Nepal (BASE Nepal), Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) India and Nepal, Global March Against Child Labour and supported by numerous networks and organisations is the largest mobilization of common people in Nepal to include free and quality education as a fundamental right in the Constitution of Nepal. The physical march started today from Mahendranagar and will reach Kathmandu on 18 September after covering 1,500 kilometers covering the length of the country.

Rajkumari, 14 years old former child domestic labourer questioned the Prime Minister and the officials, “Is my country so poor that it can not give pencil and slate to us? This march is not only for me and my fellow marchers, but for all the children who are missing an education, working in homes, fields, factories, hotels, restaurants, stores, getting abused and exploited. This march is our call for education for all.” Further she added, “New Nepal has to be built on the foundation of education and freedom from exploitation.”

Internationally acclaimed child rights leader Kailash Satyarthi, President Global Campaign for Education and Chairperson Global March Against Child Labour remarked, “It is heartening to see the commitment of the children, common people and activists braving the rain to participate in the largest education campaign in Nepal. Nepal is at crossroads. It needs a strong and engaged democracy. The presence of the Prime Minister here ensures that the entire country wants to work for change and you want to educate your children. Nepal has become a source of trafficking to the South Asia; children are being prostituted, abused and exploited. But today shows that all this is going to change and very soon”. He committed to take this demand for education in Nepal to the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) for Education for All steering meeting. He assured that he would push for the inclusion of Nepal in the FTI funding mechanism.

Prime Minister Mr. Nepal welcomed Mr. Satyarthi’s remark for inclusion of Nepal in FTI mechanism. He said Nepal is keen to work exponentially to achieve education and inclusion in the FTI mechanism would be a strong step in this direction.

Tharu leader and President, BASE Nepal Dilli Bahadur Chaudhury asked the 25,000 strong gathering to spread the demand for inclusion of free and quality education to every village, every town and every city in Nepal. “In the last decade our country has gone through enormous turmoil. No mass movement can be successful without a people’s mass movement for education. There are 20 lakh children toiling in child labour, 3 girls are raped every two day, nearly half of all children are not able to complete their primary education, Kamaiyaand Kamlari although abolished are still prevalent in out society, discrimination happens in the name of caste, community, religion. These are not simply astonishing statistics, they represent the face of Nepal. Today, we must make a strong commitment to change this and bring the light to education, free, quality and compulsory education to Nepal.”

Showcasing the vibrant culture of Nepal were dances from different parts and communities of Nepal. Marching across the town of Mahendranagar, they caught the attention of people as the children shouted slogans. The cries of “Hamro Nepal, Shikshit Nepal” (Our Nepal, Educated Nepal), “Chora Chori Barabar, School Jayain Sara Sar” (Boys and Girls are equal, Each to School).

This National Education Campaign has the support of Ministry of Labour and Transport Management, Ministry of Women, Child and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Irrigation among other government department and community based organizations.

The march moves through Jhalari and Atariya reaching Dhangadhi tomorrow.


Day 2 (9 September 2009)

More than 10 thousands people joined Nepal March for Education in Dhangari

9th September 2009 - The second day of the march began with a lot of enthusiasm and zeal on the part of the participants. Today saw, involvement of 9 schools from Jhalari and Dhangadi areas of Kailali district. The day was marked by delightful Tharu dances and inspiring speeches given by children from Nepal and India. Three public meetings were conducted in the centers of the town were the local government officials , INGOs, NGOs, representatives, schools and local people  welcomed the march.

After reaching Ataria the core marchers were joined by the local schools and local people. When they got to know that this march is walking on the streets of Nepal for education they also joined in and enchanted Hindi and Nepalese slogans. In this March the boundaries of Nepal and India was diminished and everybody walked for all the children with an aim to free them from slavery and give them education.

Uma Kant Joshi Resource Person District Education Office, Kailali said that "this march would bring light of hope in the lives of the children who are still enslaved. He also requested the marchers to raise the issue of corruption where the money allocated for education never reaches the grass root level".

Kaupila , 12 years old while addressing the public meeting said that "we all have gathered here for ensuring free and good quality education to all children. Are the world leader so poor that they cannot give books and pencils to us ? its important for the government to realize its responsibilities and this march would change the situation of Nepal". 

In Dhangari the core marchers were given an exceedingly warm welcome by the people with traditional vermillion and flowers.The air of Dhangadi area was heavy with slogans from all the streets of the area demanding quality education for all irrespective of the differences of the caste, creed, sex or economic standing. Countless children participated in the march not only for themselves but for 20 lakh other children who have never held a book in their hands.

The public meeting was organized in Sports Complex of Dhangari in which Ganesh Bhadur Singh, District Education Officer ; Ramrasile Chaudhary, District President Kailali; Gyanender Bhadur Shah , Community School  ; Suresh B.K, NNDSWO; Ambika Prasad Acharya , Advisor PABSON; Sumedha Kailash , Director Bal Ashram India , Ramakant Rai , NCE Convener India , R. S Chaurasia Chairperson Bachpan Bachao Andolan India were the key speakers.

Sumedha Kailash Director Bal Ashram said that   "this is a historic march flagged off by the Prime Minister ensuring, compulsory and quality education as a fundamental right for New Nepal.  Every human being has a responsibility towards humanity that he is bound to ensure good childhood to every child. She encouraged everyone present to walk hand in hand with the core marchers to ensure rights of 7.2 million children all around the world. No matter what the circumstances be caste, creed, and rich or poor every child has a right to get free and good quality education.

  R.S Chaurasia , Chairperson BBA- He congratulated citizen of Nepal for new democratic system establishing in their country. He informed people about the challenges ahead of making education compulsory in the country as the people in power are not willing to provide equitable education. For India it took us 62 years to pass the bill of Right to Education. All of us have to raise our voices to create an empowered Nepal and he gave new slogan Jai Nepal Jai Bharat bringing both the nation together for children.

Ramrasile Chaudhary, District President Kailali said that this march would bring solution to all problems of Nepal and eradicate illiteracy. This march is for children , with children and by children


Day 3 (10 September 2009)

Overwhelming Response on 3rd Day Nepal March For Education And Flag Off of the Eastern Leg March From JHAPA

10th September 2009 – The eastern leg march started from Jhapa and more then 4 thousand people came to support the march. The march was flagged off by Narender Dahal CDO and Vijay Bhatt SSP  of the area.

In the third day of the western leg of the march more then 20 thousand people were reached in Sukkhad , Lamki and Tikapur. 50 schools with local organization joined in the march. The day was marked by delightful Tharu dances and inspiring speeches given by children from Nepal and India. 3 public meetings were conducted in the centers of the town were the local government officials, INGOs, NGOs, representatives, schools and local people  welcomed the march.

After reaching Sukkhad the core marchers were joined by the local schools and local people with traditional dances and flowers the marchers were welcomed. Thousands of people and school students were waiting for the marchers to come in their town. They walked 5 km with the marchers to support the issue. They were climbing tress and mountains to see the march and also their presence showed that they all were waiting for the mass movement for education.

Pooja , 12 years old , India while addressing crowd said that this is not just a march but its an effort by all of us to bring the voice of unheard children who are still entrapped in the darkness of child labour. Please don’t consider it a speech as given by the ministers but consider it my request to all of you to come together for the children so that the nation, the world can progress.   

In Lamki the core marchers were given an exceedingly warm welcome by the people with traditional vermillion and flowers. In the scorching heat also the children were enchanting the slogans with same spirit and zeal. The enthusiasm of the children was unbeatable which made all the local people also join in and listen  to the voice of children. The public meeting was organised in the campus of the school,

Neeraj Vohra , Campus Chief said that “ we want to welcome this historic march in the our beautiful country. I hope with this March quality of education would be  improved.  This would also help in prevention of trafficking for forced labour”.   

Sumedha Kailash , Director of Bal Ashram- She congratulated citizen of Nepal for new democratic system establishing in their country and said that “ BBA has been working for the rights of the children from past 30 years and we are glad that we are part of the Nepal March and helping in laying foundation of the New Nepal with equitable and good quality education. Any child who is not going to school is on urge of being trafficked and exploited therefore it is duty of all the citizens to make sure all children are enrolled in school and getting proper education”.

March reached Tikapur in the evening where Vimla Purn , Nepalganj UNESCO , Resham Chaudhary Phulbari FM Director welcomed the march.

Vimla Purn ,UNESCO said that “ All children should get quality education as children are loosing their childhood in exploitation and this is government responsibility to secure the childhood and provide quality education then only this New Nepal could be established.”.

The march had its night stoppage Tikapur and tomorrow would move towards Bhurigaon.


Day 4 (11 September 2009)

The heavy rainfall in Nepal was not able to stop the marchers

11th September 2009 – Today Nepal faced haevy rainfall but then it was not able to stop the marchers from enchanting slogans and also from local people to participate in the march. Small children were holding umbrellas and the plackcards to show thier support for education . The spirit and zeal for change was eminently visible on this day. The march progressed from Tikapur, Bhurigaun, Gularia , Mainapokhar, Khajura and rested at Nepalgnaj for night stay.

Tommorow March would start from Nepalganj and cover areas of Kohalpur, Chakhaura , Ghorahi , Tulsipur and rest at Chaukhora.


Day 5 (12 September 2009)

Maoists disrupt Nepal March for Education - children manhandled

12 September 2009, Nepalgunj, Nepal – On the fifth day of the march, Satrughan Prashad Singh, Minister of Tourism and Culture and Deputy Minister Civil Aviation of Nepal came to welcome the Nepal March for Education in Nepalganj in the Terai region of Nepal. The child marchers, mainly former child labourers, bonded child labourers, victims of trafficking and exploited children were leading the Nepal March for Education, chanting slogans ‘Nepal Padh cho, Aage Baadh cho’ (Nepal will read, Nepal will develop). An angry mob of Maoists in motorcycles, on foot armed with sticks and back flags disrupted the children’s rally. Shouting anti-government slogans, the Maoists even manhandled the children. Though no one was seriously hurt, the Maoists were successful in disturbing the March in Nepalgunj with the hos organizations leading the children away from the Maoist mob to a safe location and the Deputy Minister leaving the programme midway.

The public meeting was organised in Birendra Chowk of Nepalgunj in which Satrughan Prashad Singh, Minister of Tourism and Culture and Deputy Minister Civil Aviation of Nepal, Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary BASE President, Bhuwan Ribhu BBA India activist, Jay Banjade BASE International Representative, PABSAN representative RP Gautam, Nepal Teacher Union President Balram Yadav, Nepal Teacher Union representative Mrs. Krishna Pathak, and Rajkumari Chaudhary, 13 year old former child labourer were addressing the 20,000 participants.


Day 6

Nepal March For Education in Dang - Today Marched reached to 5 thousand people

13th September 2009 – The Maoists attack was not able to lower down the enthusiasm of the marchers. Next day they all were again ready to march ahead, the sixth day of the march began with a warm welcome by children from local schools , NGOs, INGOs, local government officials .  More than 5 thousand people were reached. The day was marked by Tharu dances, welcome song having message to ensure quality education and abolishing child labor composed by local students and inspiring speeches given by children from Nepal and India.

The first public meeting was organized in Ghorahi bazar of Dang. More then six schools participated in March in Ghorahi bazar.  

Tharu leader and President, BASE Nepal Dilli Bahadur Chaudhury said, “This movement will continue till there will be a strong policy of punishment in New constitution of Nepal for people who are involved in the illicit crime of trafficking children and also employing them as child labourers. They are the criminals of the society. Government, NGOs and private schools should now stop blaming each other on the issues of low quality of education in Nepal. That's why the budgets which are spending for education are being less productive. This march will certainly form a network to keep all the organization in one umbrella with an objective of working jointly for the improvement of quality in education. Now it's time to start education revolution in Nepal for making our country a developed country”.

BBA India activist Bhuwan Ribhu said that this is not a simple public meeting or a march and the child participating in the march are not just children. They are former child labourers who have suffered a lot in their life. They are the leader of future Nepal. This march has scene participation of thousands of people and indicated that there will be drastic change in future of Nepal. In future a tharu community child will certainly be a president, prime mister and minister of Nepal.

The public meeting was organised in Ghorahi Bazar Dang in which GMBS representative Shanti Chaudhary,Gramin Mahila Utthan Kendra representative Jasmani Tharu,Radar representative Chullu Chaudhary, Parsuram Tharu-12 years, Child welfare officer Rashmi Pandey, Grade 10 student Khagendra D.C., BASE Nepal vice president Yagya Raj Chaudhary, District Education Officer, Dhurba Raj K.C., PABSON president Keshav Thapa were main speaker. Similarly another public meeting was conducted in Tulsipur municipality in which Raj Kumari Chaudhary-13 years old, National PABSON representative Lambodar Lamichane, DNGOCC president Khadak B.K., Teacher Bishnu Prashad Acharya, Grade 10 student Pragyal Basnet, Tharu leader and BASE president Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary, BBA national  secretary Bhuwan Ribhu participated.


Day 7

Nepal March For Education- In Dang and Kapilbastu - Today Marched reached to 5 thousand people

14th September 2009 – Lamhi, Kapilbastu are Terai Region which is the most poorest part of Nepal and its is the source of trafficking of children for forced labour therefore this area was targeted in the march and also the eastern leg is covering the most rural areas of Nepal which are most affecting by the poor quality of education.

The two public meeting were organised in which there was immense participation of organization and local people. From past 8 days of the Flag off the march it has been observed that Nepal residents have been welcoming the march with their open hands walking with marchers enchanting slogans showing that this was the movement that all of them were waiting for.

The first public meeting was conducted in Lamahi bazar of Dang, Chandrauta bazar of Kapilbastu district. 
Tharu independent government centre committee member Yogendra Chaudhary said all school aged children should get an education. They should not be exploited as a child labourers . Government should declare education as fundamental rights.

BASE Nepal vice president Yagya Raj Chaudhary said the march will not end till each child of this country will not be educated. Terai region of Nepal is the source of child trafficking from where march has started this time. He also urged people to take pledge to not to eat food in a restaurant where children are working and socially boycott the families who are employing children.

Teacher Chabi Lal Bhandari said we would like to welcome and thanks to the education march participants and the organiser of this campaign. It is a novel cause for the society because child labour can be found especially in major town area.

Urmila Chaudhary-15 years old said the problem of Nepal is that the law and policy has been formed against child labor however  not implemented because government does not take it serious for taking action in this issue. We expect the voice of poor people will be included in new constitution of Nepal. We should be cleaver in selecting our political leaders.

Today three children named Ganesh Sapkota, Bishnu Bishworkama and Prem Bishwokarma were rescued and handed over to local area police office for further inquiry about the child labour and process of returning back to their own home. 

The public meeting was organised in Lamahi Bazar Dang in which tharuhat independent government centre committee member Yogendra Chaudhary, BASE Nepal vice president Yagya Raj Chaudhary,BASE Nepal representative Parsu Ram Chaudhary were main speakerSimilarly second public meeting was conducted in Chandrauta bazar in which BASE Kapilbastu district president Jawaharlal Chaudhary, Teacher Chavi Lal Bhandari,BBA India representative Raghavendra Singh, Urmila Chaudhary -15 years old child and Suresh Chaudhary -13 years old child gave their speech.


Day 8 

Kathmandu just a night away – kinds welcomed at Narayanghat

16 Sept. 2009: The Nepal March for Education was welcomed today at Narayanghat by around 2000 school children. The children took out a morning rally at Narayanghat joined thousands of students.

The also address the press conference at departed for Dhading/Kathmandu in the evening.


Day 9

National Child Labour Commission Announced in Nepal

17th Sep., 2009: Kathmandu: The Nepal March on Education was welcomed today by thousands of students at Ratna Park in Kathmandu today. At the culmination ceremony of the March, the Govt. today responded to the call of child labourers, civil society members, UN Agencies and child rights activists and announced the formation of a Nepalese National Commission on Child Labour. This Commission would be the first of its kind in the world and would work towards elimination of child labour by ensuring effective enforcement of anti child labour laws and access to rehabilitation to released child labourers in the country.

At the ceremony, Parsuram, 13, recalled his days as a former child labourer and called upon the entire society to end child labour. Sharing his experiences during the Nepal March, he said, "we traveled across Nepal for hundreds of kilometers and found it very difficult to eat at a dhaba where food was not being served by a child labourer. We rescued several kids along the way and sometimes had to change 5 different places to eat. Can the entire society not see this child labour in front of us? I lost a leg while working as a domestic servant, and I call upon everyone to boycott such services provided by child labourers in dhabas and homes."

Internationally acclaimed child rights activist, and President of Global Campaign for Education and Global March Against Child Labour, Kailash Satyarthi applauded the efforts of Parsuram and all the Nepalese core marchers. He compared the story of Parsuram as a symbol of change for the entire Nepal as a country. He said, "The will of Parsuram shows Nepal is ready for change and when in a country from a former child labourers to the Prime Minister everyone is geared to end exploitation and abuse. It is heartening to see history being made. I promise to take the spirit of the Nepalese children to all International fora to ensure that Nepal gets all requires assistance to International community in this great endevour." He comparied these children to heroes like Nelson Mandela and Gandhi and proclaimed that the future generations, when they read history, and access to fundamental rights, these children would shine in the annals of history.

All the marchers shared their experience with the ministers and demanded that it is necessary to create a statutory body to deal with child labour cased specifically and this is also the core demand of the march.

The labour minister Hobo'le Mohd. Aftab Alam immediately responded while reaffirming the commitment of the Nepalese Govt. He said, " the time has come for us to act immediately to eliminate child labour and in this regard a NATIONAL CHILD LABOUR COMMISSION OF NEPAL would be constituted."

The State Minister for Education Mr. Govind Chaudhary said," the need of the hour is to have not only compulsory but also inclusive and participatory education with all public and pvt. institutions coming together for quality and compulsory education."

Mr. Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary, President, BASE-NEPAL and National Coordinator of the Nepal March for Education said, "there are more than 20 lacs children forced to work in this country. Most of this children belongs to marginalized sections of society. This has to change. To do this we are going to launch a National Campaign called- EDUCATE TO END EXCLUSION. Fundamental right to education in Nepal must be included in the constitution of Nepal as not only compulsory but also enforceable. Policy for rescue and  rehabilitation for all child labourers must be made. In this regards the child leaders in the Nepal March for Education would go and meet with the Honorable President of Nepal on 18th September 2009.

The President of Bachpan Bachao Andolan Mr. Ramesh Gupta congratulated all the Marchers and the participants in the Nepal March for organizing and leading this historic campaign and endeavor.

Mr. U. Sarathchandran, Member Sec., National Legal Services Authority of India said, "India has already enacted the Right to Education Act and shown the way. These efforts must be replicated and Education should become a fundamental right as soon as possible. The judiciary of India has also implemented the Legal Aid services and to ensure child rights, such legal aid should also be provided." It is notable that in India, the Supreme Court has already directed the creation of an All India Legal Aid Cell on Child Rights.

The Nepal March for Education has proved to be a tremendous success over more than 3000 Km. and with the participation of hundreds of civil society organizations, UN agencies, Govt. Dept. etc.