KATHMANDU: A two-day international conference on ‘education, gender and development’, organised by Development Partnerships in Higher

Education (DelPHE), began here today.

Some 10 research papers were presented today

while nine will be presented tomorrow. Most of the presenters are from Nepal, Bangladesh and the United Kingdom.

Presenting a paper on ‘trends and issues of gender equality in school sector reform in Nepal’, Dr Lava Deo Awasthi, joint secretary, Ministry of Education, painted a grim picture of higher education in Nepal, particularly that of females. According to Nepal Labour Force Survey 2008, which he referred to, the percentage of women aged 15 and over acquiring a degree in education is 0.9 while that for males is 3.3. Only 2.9 per cent women have completed higher education and 10.4 per cent secondary in the age group. A whopping 46.7 per cent adults never attended school while 10.7 per cent have not completed even primary education.

As positive indicators, Dr Awasthi noted that gender inclusion had been a national agenda and more females had been enrolled in schools and universities. There is an increased share of resources in education and services have witnessed expansion. He stated there was more commitment to education from parents and communities.

Dr Rose Khatry, lecturer, Liverpool John Moores University, UK, talked on ‘gender mainstreaming and women’s health: assessing maternal mortality as a marker for women’s development’. She noted that infant and child mortality rates are seen as key components of a healthy society, as such more efforts are placed in this area of health and development.

DelPHE is a scheme supported by the UK Department for International Development and the British Council. Under it, Liverpool John Moores University, Dhaka University Department of Women and Gender Studies, Tribhuvan University Central Department of Home Science and Women Studies and TU Research Centre for Educational Innovation and Development are undertaking a project on higher education and research on gender and development issues in Nepal and Bangladesh’.