Sandwiched between the giants of India and China, the small country of Nepal is home to eight of the ten highest mountains in the world, including the greatest of them all—Mount Everest. Most Nepalese live in the rocky plains and valleys that sit in the shadows of the towering Himalayas or the remote southern flatlands of the Tarai, where transportation infrastructure is scarce and the terrain is challenging, even by foot. 

A land-locked country, Nepal is almost completely dependent on agrarian sustenance farming. Typically, forty to fifty families live and farm on sloping terraces where they grow wheat, rice, and vegetables.

The second major source of income for the country is tourism—with international visitors from around the globe flocking to visit the country’s majestic mountains. In the last fifteen years however, political instability has compromised tourism and slowed the development of the country’s economy.

Roughly 50% of all Nepalese live in poverty, on less than US$2/day.

Population 28 million
Land area 147,000 Km2
National language of instruction Nepali 
Launch of operations 1998
Room to Read office Kathmandu
Regions where we work Bardiya, Nawalparasi, Pyuthan, Myagdi, Kaski, Lumjung, Dhading, Chitwan, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot, Palpa, Banke, Kailali

Educational Landscape

The challenges to the Nepalese educational system are many and complex.

The very mountains that give Nepal its grandeur make building sustainable infrastructure a slow and arduous process. A significant portion of the country’s population lives in rural areas where no phones, roads, clean water, or schools exist.

While the country's educational system has made a great deal of progress in a very short time, there is still much to be done. Many government schools are run down and underfunded, especially in the countryside. Despite the government’s policy of providing free primary education, overcrowding and lack of materials keep many children from reaching their full potential or even finishing primary school.

Government funding usually accommodates teachers’ salaries, but all other costs are expected to be covered by the village families—meaning libraries and books are extremely scarce. Schools that do have books recognize that they are a precious commodity and often lock them up for safekeeping—unavailable for use by children.

Individual family situations and cultural bias further complicate the effort to achieve universal education. Girls typically have less access of educational resources and opportunities than their male counterparts, making them 22% less likely to be literate.

Programs & Results

Our work in Nepal began before Room to Read even came to exist. In 1998, Room to Read Founder, John Wood, delivered his first few hundred books to a school high in the Himalayas, and the organization—then known as Books for Nepal—was born.

Since then, our local team has expanded operations in the country to include all of our core programs—School Libraries, Reading & Writing Instruction, School Construction, Book Publishing and Girls’ Education. We now work in both the Himalayan region and the lowlying Tarai flatlands to improve educational opportunities for Nepal's children.

Key partners in Nepal include: Nepal Education Support Trust (NEST), Lions Club of Butwal (LCB), Moti Community Library (MCL), Manabiya Srot Bikas Kendra Nepal (MSBK), Gaja Yuba Club (GYC), Vijaya Development Resource Centre (VDRC), Backwardness Eradication Society (BES, Palpa), Fulvari Integrated Rural Development Organization (FIRDO), Child, Health and Environment Save Society (CHESS Nepal), Prayatnashil Community Development Society (PRAYAS-Nepal), Paropakar Primary health care Center (PPUK), Backward Society Education (BASE-Bardiya), Education Research and Development Center Nepal (ERDCN), Lions Club of Kathmandu, Nepalese Society for Children's Literature (NESCHIL), Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF), Friends of Needy Children (FNC), DHL Express Pvt. Ltd.

Cumulative results
Libraries established 3,776
Book titles published 269
School construction projects 1,101
Girls' Education participants 4,129

Results updated annually

Meet our local staff:
Pushkar Shrestha, Country Director

“Educating one person is not enough, you have to educate the whole community,” says Pushkar, who joined Room to Read in 2006 as program director.  

In his current role as country director for Nepal, Pushkar says his visits to our partner communities are the best part of his job. “It is a great feeling when you see the transformation taking place in schools and communities because of our team’s hard work and dedication,” he says.

Pushkar holds a bachelor’s degree in bio-resources engineering from Montana State University and an executive MBA from Kathmandu University. In his spare time, Pushkar enjoys spending time outdoors—camping, hiking and cycling with his wife and children.  

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