The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu contributes to building peace, alleviating poverty, and fostering sustainable development and intercultural dialogue in Nepal through education, science, culture, communication and information.
UNESCO works to attain a quality Education for All, focusing on gender equality and adult literacy, to mobilize scientific knowledge and science policy for sustainable development, to preserve cultural heritage, promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, and to empower people through the free flow of ideas and access to information and knowledge.
To achieve these objectives, UNESCO actively participates in the work of the UN Country Team in Nepal and closely cooperates with other development partners in the country.
Since its establishment in 1998, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu has been working with the government, development partners and civil society organizations to support national efforts to achieve the goals of Education for All (EFA) focusing on literacy and teacher training, strengthening the education system, and planning and managing education.
Literacy is a fundamental human right. Within the framework of the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD 2003-2012) and the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu provides policy support, for example in the preparation and implementation of Nepal’s “10-Year Literacy Policy and Programme Framework 2006”.
The Office is working to build capacity of education officials with a view to improving literacy for sustainable development for example through:
- Designing and implementing mother tongue-based literacy programs
- Supporting community learning centers as venues for community development and for delivery of non-formal education services through training of CLC managers and facilitators.
Well-trained teachers are critical to providing a quality education for all. Neither Education for All (EFA), nor the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be reached without adequate recognition of the role played by teachers.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports national efforts in:
- Building capacity and designing and developing training materials
- Supporting research to strengthen the teacher education system through pre-service teacher training and promoting multilingual education
- Reorienting teacher education from the perspective of EFA and ESD and integrating elements of education for sustainable development in teacher education and curriculum.
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
Early Childhood Care and Education( ECCE) uses a holistic approach integrating health and nutrition to reach Goal 1 of the EFA Dakar Framework for Action: “ Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.”
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports national efforts in developing an ECCE strategy framework and curriculum and enhancing the capacity of education officials and other key stakeholders at all levels. For example, the office assists government in:
- Reviewing ECCE policy
- Preparing policy briefs
- Developing training materials
Primary (basic) education is a fundamental human right. UNESCO works with national governments and EFA partners to ensure free and compulsory primary/basic education of a good quality for all by 2015.
In the area of primary education, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu works, for example, in:
- Developing bridging prospects between formal and non-formal education through equivalency programmes to achieve universal primary education
- Developing and testing equivalency programmes for out-of-school children in primary education through alternative schooling, with a particular focus on disadvantaged groups.
Secondary education aims to help young people to develop their full human potential and ensure their place in society as productive, responsible and democratic citizens. It helps to prepare learners in both formal and non-formal settings for higher education and the world of work.
In Nepal, progress towards achieving Universal Primary Education has led to a growing demand for secondary education. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports the government with the effective implementation of the School Sector Reform Plan (2009-2015), providing support in capacity development towards improving access and retention of students in secondary education.
There is a growing recognition of the role that higher education plays in enabling Nepal to overcome poverty and achieve sustainable development and economic growth. The government‘s focus is on the overall quality enhancement of higher education and scientific research and development.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports national efforts in developing a comprehensive higher education policy in Nepal.
Inclusive education is addressing the diverse needs of all learners by reducing barriers to, and within the learning environment. It addresses the learning needs of all children, youth, and adults, with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports national efforts to enhance the capacities of teachers and programme implementers, for example through:
- Adapting the Inclusive Education Toolkit to promote the school environment that celebrates diversity and upholds human rights
- Preparing an audio-visual documentary “Hamro (Our) School” on the practices of inclusive education in Nepalese classroom was prepared and disseminated
- Preparing an advocacy kit for promoting multilingual education: Including the excluded is adapted in Nepali, Maithili and Bhojpuri
HIV and AIDS in Education
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports responses to HIV and AIDS that are inclusive and sensitive to the needs and issues of all of the population, but with particular attention to children in the school setting.
Examples of the Office’s action in the area of HIV and AIDS in Education include:
- Preparing HIV and AIDS advocacy kits for community members and head teachers
- Reviewing the education sector response to HIV and AIDS
- Supporting the MoE in developing an education sector strategy and policy on HIV and AIDS
- Reducing the vulnerability of illiterate women to HIV and AIDS through non-formal means of education
Languages in Education
The Office in Kathmandu promotes mother tongue instruction as a means of improving educational quality by building upon the knowledge and experience of learners and teachers.
The Kathmandu Office’s work includes:
- Designing and implementing mother tongue-based literacy programmes
- Developing and disseminating an advocacy kit for promoting multilingual education: including the excluded
- Preparing thematic papers on language issues in a federal structure and organizing informed debates
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports Nepal’s efforts to build capacity for evidence-based planning and monitoring in the area of education and to provide technical assistance in data collection and analysis with respect to both formal and non-formal education.
Examples of the action of the Office in this regard include:
- Supporting in the preparation of Flash reports (Department of Education) of school level educational statistics based on annual school censuses;
- Strengthening school records management;
- Establishing a non-formal education management information system (NFE-MIS);
- Testing new methods of collecting literacy data for example using literacy modules in household surveys.
Education and Federalism
In view of providing support for the smooth transition of Nepal from a centralized education to a decentralized system, the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu initiated debates on education and federalism, engaging members of the education community. The Office helped organize debates with the following key themes:
- Free and compulsory education;
- Private schooling;
- Language issue;
- Teacher management;
- Students’ pathways;
- Financing of education;
- Governance of higher education;
- Financing of higher education;
- Higher education curriculum and;
- Open and distance education.
ICTs in Education
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching, teachers’ professional development and more efficient education management, governance and administration.
An example of the work of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu is providing support to capacity development and the preparation of an ICT in Education Master Plan.
Gender Mainstreaming in Education
In UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategy 2008-2013, gender equality has been designated as one of the Organization’s two global priorities. This priority is supported by a dual approach which consists of gender mainstreaming and gender-specific programming.
Gender mainstreaming is a strategy that makes the experiences and concerns of women and men an integral dimension of policy formulation and programming. It demands project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation that do not perpetuate gender inequality. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.
In support to building an effective national education system, the Office in collaboration with the MOE and UNICEF, provided the following support:
- Training for Gender Focal Points to enhance their knowledge and understanding with respect to mainstreaming gender in education.
- A study on situation analysis of gender responsive budgeting in the education sector in Nepal. The findings of the study will inform policy on achieving gender equality in education and its recommendations will help improve planning.
- Translation and dissemination of the Gender in Education Network in the Asia-Pacific (GENIA) toolkit for wider audiences.
Education for Sustainable Development
Education for sustainable development (ESD) seeks to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of education and learning.
The action of the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu to foster ESD includes, for example:
- Promoting education for sustainable development;
- Developing the capacity of education officials and other key stakeholders for improving their knowledge and understanding to integrate elements of ESD in teacher education and curriculum.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports the national efforts to achieve the goals of EFA through undertaking research on different themes. As a continuous activity, the Office has undertaken/is undertaking reviews and studies, including the following themes:
- Situational Analysis of Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Education Sector in Nepal;
- Strengthening Teacher Training to Achieve EFA: Reviewing Pre-service Teacher Training in Nepal;
- Strengthening Community Learning Centres (CLCs) to Achieve EFA: Assessing the Functioning of CLCs in Nepal;
- Regional Review of Financing Literacy Programmes: Achieving the Goal of Literacy for All in Nepal;
- Transition from Primary to Secondary Education: Review of Policy Experiences in Nepal;
- Follow-up of Review of the Pre-service Teacher Education System in Nepal;
- Promoting Multilingual Education (MLE) in Nepal.
In the area of natural sciences, UNESCO’s strategy consists in contributing to mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development focusing on a limited number of strategic interventions due to the fact that the Office has no dedicated human and financial resources in the area. Activities are mainly channeled through UNESCO Office in New Delhi.
Activities in this area focus on:
- The preparation of science projects that can help in disaster risk reduction, e.g. forecasting earthquakes and flood hazards
- Cooperate Nepal Academy of Science and Technology in preparation of national policy in science and technology in Nepal and help identification of a number of priority areas for research and development
- Advocacy for clean water through variety of events that link water and development
UNESCO is the only international agency in Nepal actively involved in the area of culture. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu has been conducting a wide variety of programmes and activities aimed at supporting the government to foster the country’s cultural diversity; protect its natural and cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible; promote cultural diversity and inter cultural dialogue for social cohesion; and contribute to a culture of peace.
Nepal is home to four World Heritage Sites:
- Kathmandu Valley (1979) including the Durbar Squares of Hanuman Dhoka (Kathmandu), Patan and Bhaktapur, the Buddhist stupas of Swayambhu and Bauddhanath and the Hindu temples of Pashupati and Changu Narayan
- Sagarmatha National Park (1979)
- Chitwan National Park (1984)
- Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha (1997)
Communication and Information
Communication, information and knowledge are driving forces of sustainable development. Access to information and a free, independent and professional media are particularly crucial in Nepal, where the Constitution and state restructuring are under way and democracy is still young.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu supports peace building efforts by building the capacity of journalists, supporting community multimedia centres and community radios, promoting press freedom and the right to Information, and fostering access to information and knowledge. The Office works closely with national partners, creating strong national ownership of UNESCO’s action themes in these fields.
Access to Knowledge
UNESCO works to create an enabling environment, which is conducive to, and facilitates universal access to information and knowledge.
Nepal is going through an important period of democracy building and state-restructuring. Therefore it is particularly important to have a well-informed population with access to accurate and independent information from diverse sources, with an understanding of the decision-making processes.
Although the quality and diversity of media is increasing in more populated areas, the situation is different in remote areas. Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) are important actors in supporting democracy and reducing poverty, particularly in isolated rural areas. Other important actors to facilitate access to information and knowledge are libraries and archives and, increasingly, online resources.
Examples of the Office’s intervention in this area include:
- Building the capacity of CMCs through training and networking activities
- Advocating for the right to information
- Building capacities to manage information that is electronically available
- Promoting the safeguarding of the documentary heritage, for example through the celebration of World Day for Audio-Visual Heritage, held annually on 28 October
Freedom of Expression
UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right through sensitization and monitoring activities. The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu acts as a promoter of dialogue among media professionals in post-conflict Nepal and provides advice to media professionals, institutions and local authorities in Nepal to enhance the development of freedom of expression. It promotes media independence and pluralism in the country as fundamental to the process of democracy, peace and the restructuring of the Constitution.
The Office’s work in this area includes:
- Undertaking advocacy in the form of open dialogue with government and civil society and through issuance of press statements on various pressing issues, such as freedom of expression, freedom of the press and impunity of violence against journalists
- Promoting freedom of expression and freedom of the press through the celebrations of the World Press Freedom Day, held annually on 3 May
- Promoting the principle of public service broadcasting through actions aimed at guaranteeing the principle of editorial independence by law and execution of it through regulation in the new Constitution of Nepal
UNESCO helps to strengthen the capacity of communication institutions and media professionals. In Nepal, the media has an important role in contributing to an effective state by strengthening democracy, human rights, good governance and citizen engagement. Only with well trained journalists who understand their rights and responsibilities can the Nepali media take its crucial place in strengthening democracy and disseminating information to the Nepali people.
The UNESCO Office in Kathmandu works to promote international professional standards of journalism and public service and to promote dialogue among media professionals. Action in this area includes:
- Undertaking an assessment of Nepal’s media landscape in 2011, based on the Media Development Indicators
- Assessing the performance of community radios
- Assisting in the establishment of a public service broadcasting system in Nepal
- Translating UNESCO standard setting tools into the Nepali language (e.g., “Model Curricula for journalism training” and “Media Development Indicators”)