My teacher is a 15 year old student in year 8: A model of successful literacy training in rural Nepal.

Year: 2018

Author: Ham, Miriam, Wood, Denise, Knight, Bruce

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The literacy rate of women in rural Nepal is significantly below that of the national average and continues to improve at a slower rate than their male counterparts (UNESCO, 2013). The government of Nepal has the literacy needs of women as one of its national goals and has designed resources to assist the many programs being offered.  These programs are being conducted by both government agencies and private non-government organisations (NGOs). Seven Women, is a Nepali grassroots NGO that has been conducting women’s literacy training in rural villages in Nepal over the last three years. They requested a partnership with CQUniversity researchers with the aim of having their program documented and evaluated for the purpose of building their capacity to implement the model in additional villages.  The study, to be conducted over a year, utilises a mixed-methods design (Denzin & Lincoln, 2012; Kindon et al, 2007) involving semi-structured interviews and Participatory Action Research (PAR) with Seven Women staff and trainers in rural villages as participant researchers who can assist project researchers in identifying culturally appropriate solutions to improving capacity for literacy training. A pilot study conducted in April this year focused on the first phase of documentation and evaluation. The results of the research found that the model of training implemented by Seven Women trainers is largely successful both in terms of the improving the literacy levels of women and the wider impact in the community. The researchers then sought to identify what educational practices underpin this success. 
The findings, based on interviews with a cross-section of Seven Women staff, literacy trainers and recipients of the training suggest that the success of the model rests on a framework that focuses on promoting the courage of women within their cultural context to develop their confidence, and with the help of training, their capacity and competence to impact in a positive way in their communities. The inherent emphasizing of the women’s cultural values in the literacy training appears foundational to the empowerment of women within their context impacting their social inclusion and in turn, their ability to influence their community. This research has direct impacts for improving the capacity of the literacy trainers in Nepal, however it also is useful to inform the designers of models of literacy teaching for marginalized women in rural contexts including potential links to Indigenous communities in Australia.