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Rural Students turn into global citizens

In Nepal, poverty, recurring disasters and discrimination severely limit access to education. The quality of public education has deteriorated to the point that, in 2011, only 45 percent of students in grade 10 graduated. Unemployed young people increasingly are forced to take the most insecure and hazardous jobs, both in Nepal and in the countries to which they migrate in search of work.

That's what has happened in the remote far west Kailali district, where most people are indigenous Tharu agricultural workers, and many migrate to India in search of seasonal work. It is especially hard for young people there to get an education. And impossible to keep up with their city-based peers.

Students learning through computers and the

Head teacher Tek Bahadur Chhetri recalled, "Whenever I went to cities, I saw private schools that are teaching their students through computers and the internet. Those students easily get information about the subjects they are studying. I dreamed about having an e-library in my school, but it was only my dream."

Mercy Corps, with the support of Reach Out To Asia and in partnership with the local Red Cross, is changing that. We have established e-libraries that improve the quality of education and job skills training in six schools serving 5,487 students. The e-libraries include computers, 24-hour internet access, projectors and printers. We're also helping communities become better prepared to withstand the flooding that's a constant concern in the area.

Now Chhetri can set his sights higher. "We want our children to become competitive with children from urban areas," he added. "With the internet and modern methodologies, they can have the opportunity for higher education. E-learning has already made a huge difference in their lives, helping them become global citizens." To generate income so the library can be self-supporting -- and to share its benefits with the entire community -- the school plans to keep it open after class hours as a cyber cafe.

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