Changing Lives - The Impacts of RHEST's Scholarship Program on Girls in Nepali Rural Communities
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Nepal is still far behind reaching the Education For All and Millennium Development Goals aimed at making education universal and gender inclusive. Illiteracy rates are nearly twice as high in rural areas than urban ones, and the literacy rate for women is at only 35%. Women are at a particular disadvantage especially in rural areas where enrollment and attainment are generally low. Poverty, ethnic background, and the general low value of girls in families also leads them to be at a higher risk for human trafficking, especially if they are not enrolled in school. This thesis overviews research undertaken in four districts of Nepal, evaluating a small NGO’s education intervention. The Rural Health and Education Service Trust (RHEST) has been giving scholarships to poor, marginalized girls from rural communities for the past 13 years via a pro-poor approach aimed at empowerment and participatory development. Their aim is to protect girls from trafficking via keeping them in school and awareness raising. This study evaluates the situations of RHEST beneficiaries and the impact RHEST has on rural households and schools. The results are aimed at painting a true picture of how far this program can reach and what its successes and shortcomings are.