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Earthquake-safe school helps Nepali girls dream big

With support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Plan International Nepal has constructed a disability-inclusive school complete with computers, a science lab and a library, which has given girls in Dolakha district renewed hope for their futures.

Lila and Manju have a new earthquake resilient school.
Lila (left) and Manju (right) are delighted with their new, earthquake resilient school.

On 25 April 2015, Lila and Manju's lives changed dramatically after powerful earthquakes destroyed their village in Nepal. They lost their homes and school. However, the two girls are now able to study in a permanent, earthquake-resilient school equipped with computers and a science lab.

Elevating the community

Manju and her cousin Lila are keen to use their new school's facilities to achieve big things in life and lead the development of their community. 

 I am a female, but so what? I may be limited physically, but if my mind is sharp, then I can become an engineer.

“If we do not go to school, we will end up like our parents, who can hardly write their names. We would spend our lives working on the farm, doing traditional agricultural work,” says 14-year-old Manju. “After studying, I will work hard to stop the bad culture in our society. I want to help others, it’s not just about us - it is about helping the community.”

15-year-old Lila is equally committed to getting an education to make a better life for herself and her family. “If we were not in school, we would likely be married off. By staying in school, we will not get married, we will stand on our own two feet and not have to rely on others.”

Building resilience and inclusivity 

The state-of-the-art school has allayed some of the girls' fears about earthquakes in the Dolakha region where they live and study.

Earthquake-resilient school building in Nepal
Manju and Lila's earthquake-resilient school during construction.

“In the old school, if there was an earthquake, we would not have safe, open spaces for us to go to. Now with the new school, it is much bigger, so if the shaking starts, we can all come together in a safe space,” says Manju.

“Previously, we did not have a playground or a library. Our new school has these. Our old temporary school was not disability-friendly as the ground was unstable, but the new school supports these children. For example, children who are not able to see well are able to sit at the front of the classroom,” explains Lila.

Hopes for the future

Lila wants to become an engineer and is positive her new school will help her achieve her goal.

“In our community, most men go abroad, and after the earthquake, there was a large demand for engineers. Many came from outside our village, but they did not behave well and caused some issues. I am a female, but so what? I may be limited physically, but if my mind is sharp, then I can become an engineer.”

Manju also has high hopes for her future.

“In so many places, there is discrimination between men and women. Men get respect and women face discrimination,” says Manju. “I want my future to be better. I don’t want to drop out of school. I want to be an example to other girls in my village and become a journalist.”

We are the next leaders

We are calling on world leaders to support the funding of inclusive, quality education for girls so they can become leaders in their homes, careers and communities.

Visit the #WeAreTheNext campaign to take action for girls' education