KATHMANDU, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations World Food Program (WFP) have announced a joint effort to increase Nepali girls' attendance in primary schools in five southern Terai districts where gender disparity rates are some of the highest.
School enrollment of girls in these districts is far behind Nepal's national average where less than half of them complete primary education, said the joint press release issued on Tuesday.
"Providing monthly-take home rations to girls is a powerful tool for increasing school attendance because it enables girls to help feed their families," said WFP Deputy Country Representative, Dominique Hyde, adding that this joint program will enhance how communities view the education of girls and provide them with a major incentive to send them to school regularly.
WFP will provide two liters of cooking oil each month to girls with good attendance rates and UNICEF will provide a resource package which will include teacher training and education materials to create a more child-friendly learning environment in targeted schools.
Activities will be implemented in more than 100 schools in Sarlahi, Rautahat, Mahottari, Dhanusha and Parsa districts of central Nepal in south, which will benefit nearly 10,000 girls.
Improving the quality of education and developing child-friendly environments in schools are prerequisites to retaining children in school and ensuring they finish the full cycle of primary education, said the release.
"In a society where girls are valued for household chores, parents weigh the value of their time spent in school," a joint statement quotes Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative, adding, "If the schools are not providing quality education, parents can think that girls are more productive at home than in school. Schools need to be more child-friendly to allow girls especially to their right to education."
She added that a child-friendly school should be safe, gender-sensitive and inclusive of all children without any form of discrimination. Additionally, it should provide a child-centered curriculum with engaging learning methods and be fully engaged with its communities, families and students.
WFP and UNICEF are implementing this program as a part of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative, and in close collaboration with the Nepali government's Department of Education.