Nepal plans to eliminate illiteracy

The Nepalese government has launched an ambitious new programme which aims to eradicate illiteracy in the country by 2015

The Literate Nepal Mission aims to ensure 1.38 million Nepalese people learn to read and write every year for three years, with an investment of Rs 3.95bn (£27.9m). According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), the country’s literacy rate currently stands at 70%.

In 2008, the literacy rate was 55.6%. A previous drive in 2009 – The Literacy Campaign – failed to meet its target of wiping out illiteracy, but has paved the way for this most recent programme.

The MoE is encouraging all literate people to be part of the campaign, calling on civil servants, teachers and army personnel to help work towards the target. Around 36,000 centres will be created to teach literacy classes, with the help of 27,000 volunteers.

Nepal’s education minister Dina Nath Sharma said: “The government will leave no stone unturned to bring down illiteracy to zero and will set an example to the world.”

Mr Sharma is so confident in the campaign that he added: “We will award cash prizes to anyone who finds illiterate people [in Nepal] after the year 2015.” However, the MoE has revised the definition of literacy somewhat. A person will be deemed literate if they can operate a mobile phone and a calculator, can count up to 100, express personal views in public and fill in a cheque.