Strengthening CLCs for community empowerment

UNESCO, in collaboration with UNDP’s Electoral Support Programme and in support of the Center for Education and Human Resource Development and Election Commission Nepal, conducted 11 capacity-building workshops for Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in last couple of months, highlighting the areas of management and promoting civic education.

Realizing the need of utilizing informal channels of education for both civic and voter education to support credible elections, promote democracy and strengthen human rights, these workshops were conducted in eleven districts: Baglung, Bhaktapur, Dang, Humla, Kailali, Kaski, Lalitpur, Panchthar, Mahottari, Sankhuwasabha and Sunsari. Altogether 451 CLC representatives, locally elected representatives, education officials, and teachers from 38 districts of all seven provinces participated in the workshops.

Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya addressed two of the workshops in Kaski and Sankhuwasabha districts. He commended the commitment of CLC representatives in uplifting the community, saying “The role of community-based organisations like CLCs in dispensing civic and voter education is very important.” Acknowledging UNESCO’s contribution for the promotion of CLCs in community development, he shared the Commission’s plan to mobilize CLCs for promoting voter education.

Chief District Officer of Humla Binita Bhattarai encouraged CLCs to promote indigenous knowledge, culture and products in their community. She also stated that CLCs would play a crucial role in declaring Humla a literate district.

Through a session on ICT, the workshops ensured that participants are equipped with the needed skills to promote their activities through social media. To further this aim, the program has established a network of CLCs on social media which the stakeholders have been using to foster continuous information exchanges between centres.

During the workshops, participants discussed issues relating to the management of CLCs, good practices, provisions of the government, election procedures, democratic governance, election cycles and legal provisions regarding elections and the need for people's participation to promote these activities and support credible elections.

Deputy Mayor of Ghorahi Sub Metropolitan City Sita Sigdel Nepaupane recalled her memories of being involved with CLCs in the past. She said that the development of community physical infrastructure alone is not enough; there is equally a need to raise awareness and encourage behavioural change and she recognized the role of CLCs in being this change agent.

Jaya Rudra Dhakal, Head of the Education Unit in Tajakot Rural Municipality, who walked for 5 days to attend the program in Simikot, Humla, shared that he wasn’t aware of the role CLCs can play in the community. He shared his plan in the coming days of mobilizing two CLCS which exist in his rural municipality to promote community cleanliness, social harmony, and enhancing locals’ skills.

CLCs are community based non-formal education organization usually set up and managed by community people to provide lifelong learning opportunities. The Framework for Action for Education 2030 emphasises the need for strong inter-sectoral approaches for education beyond schools or formal institutions. It calls for “strengthened links between formal and non-formal structures” and, strategically, advocates for the establishment of multiple pathways to learning to ensure that each child, youth and adult will have access to lifelong learning programmes. This signals the crucial need to reinvigorate the CLCs as hubs for learning, information dissemination and networking to implement the SDGs.