Literacy drive volunteers yet to be paid

MADHYAPUR THIMI: Though the two phases of the first year’s programme of National Literacy Campaign were completed along with the end of the last fiscal a couple of weeks ago, the volunteers who were deployed in 68 districts are yet to get their remuneration.

According to Non-Formal Education Centre (NFEC) sources, the fund allocated in the last year’s budget was not sufficient for the allowance after the cabinet decided to increase the monthly allowance of the volunteers’ and invigilators later. Although the initial allowance for volunteers and invigilators was fixed Rs 1,000 and 1,500, a cabinet decision later increased the same to Rs 2,000 and 2,500, respectively.

A total of 86,100 volunteers and 4,013 invigilators were mobilised for the campaign in all 75 districts.

With an objective to end illiteracy within two years, the Maoist-led government had introduced the campaign last year. The present government too has given continuation to it.

“The then government had allocated Rs1.4 billion to conduct the programme,” said Diwakar Awasthi, acting director, NFEC. “At the same time, after the cabinet increased the allowance, the allotted budget was not sufficient; that’s why we could not provide the money to the volunteers.”

He said that the NFEC’s extra budget of Rs 28.4 million, which was allocated for such campaigns targeted for the people belonging to marginalised, Dalit and other disadvantage groups, was spent for the volunteers’ allowance in other districts after there were no such programmes. “We got no proposal for such special campaign. Thus, we used this money to clear the payment of volunteers in seven districts — Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Makawanpur, Surkhet, Rupandehi and Dadeldhura.”

He added that the payment was made earlier as they submitted their progress report earlier than the remaining districts.

The NFEC has demanded for Rs 219.9 million with Ministry of Finance to clear the outstanding payment of last fiscal’s programme but the government has not yet taken decision on it.

“There are two ways to manage funds: either the government had to provide the demanded amount from other sources or the amount should be managed from this year’s budget after canceling some of the programmes,” he explained.

According to official data, among 11.7 million Nepalese people between 15 to 60 years of age, around 7.8 million people are illiterate. The ministry had targeted to literate 1,216,590 people by running 41,430 literacy classes in the first phase and 1,395,390 people by running 47,870 classes in the second phase of the campaign.