NFEC: Promoting Literacy in Nepal

Established in 1999, the Non-formal Education Center (NFEC) operates under the direction of Nepal’s Ministry of Education as a central level agency to promote literacy and non-formal education in the country. A new literacy campaign was recently launched by the NFEC with the goal of ensuring that all Nepal’s citizens will have the opportunity to become literate by the end of 2015. A household survey carried out by the NFEC in 2010 revealed that more than 5.1 million Nepalis were illiterate, of which more than 3.4 million were women. Literacy programs in 2010 and 2011 addressed this problem to an extent, but it is estimated that currently more than 3.7 million people are still awaiting the opportunity to learn to read and write.

Research has revealed that higher literacy rates are related to better economic conditions, the reduction of poverty, the promotion of health and wellbeing, along with innumerable other benefits – provided, of course, that educational reading material is available. The NFEC is mandated with upgrading and extending literacy and skill-oriented activities through various programs of non-formal education, which include the distribution of textbooks, training packages and other teaching aids. Education Minister Dinanath Sharma has made an appeal to local authorities and citizens in all regions of Nepal to cooperate with government authorities to ensure the success of the campaign.

There are many quotes by famous people on the benefits of being literate. Mohandas Gandhi has been quoted as saying: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” and American President Lyndon Johnson said “A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.” On a lighter note, a quote from the Dr. Seuss children’s book I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! notes that “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Certainly, learning to read is a great gift that every person on earth should be able to receive. With Nepal’s ongoing literacy campaigns through the Non-Formal Education Center, it may very well be that in the not too distant future, every Nepali citizen will have the opportunity to learn to read and write.