News

A Constitutional Right

Agatha Thapa, founder of Seto Gurans (White Rhododendron), offers quality Early Childhood services in Nepal. Seto Gurans also provides parenting education, which is a very important component for the holistic development of both children and youth. Agatha Thapa has been at the forefront of a social movement, which has succeeded to include ECD in the constitution of Nepal stating that every child shall have the right to holistic development and child participation.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) is the starting point of human life. According to scientific evidence 90% of the human brain is developed during this period. Early stimulation, health, nutrition, protection and participation is required from pre-natal stage. However, Nepal is struggling with poverty and illiteracy and it is the women and children who suffer the most. 38 years ago, Agatha Thapa decided to start working with the most disadvantaged children of the untouchable class as she envisioned a just society with the opportunity for each child to develop its full potential. She founded Seto Gurans, naming it “white rhododendron”, a flower which only grows in the inaccessible mountain regions of Nepal, similar to a large number of children, who are surviving in difficult situations and whose rights are often being neglected. Disparities based on gender, ethnicity, geographical barriers and severe poverty deprive them of their rightful opportunities. Through its Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs Seto Gurans wants to help these children to unfold and bloom to their full potential.

Agatha Thapa has designed innovative early childhood programs according to the development needs of the children and targeted to the immediate parents, caregivers and teachers for the holistic development of the children. The curriculum is represented as a circle – just like a mandala – and its framework emphasizes an integrated learning approach to ECD focusing on emotional, social, cognitive, cultural, physical and spiritual development of the children. Agatha Thapa receives a 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Award for her lifelong commitment to establishing ECD in Nepal. She wants to utilize the Award money of CHF 100’000 for setting up seven new regional resource centers in the seven provinces.

Agatha Thapa Seto Gurans

Agatha Thapa, founder of Seto Gurans

“I envision Nepal as a country where all children receive quality opportunities for learning and developing to their full potential”

After many years of work, Seto Gurans has become a nationally recognized NGO and has been able to expand its programs into 59 out of 75 districts. The government has meanwhile replicated the Seto Gurans programs at district level, and currently there are more than 36,000 urban and rural ECD centers in Nepal. With an objective to make ECD a national issue Agatha Thapa took the initiative and formed an ECD group with 21 Constituent Assembly members with an aim to write ECD as constitutional and fundamental rights into the constitution of Nepal. The efforts were successful and since 2015, article 39 of the Nepalese constitution states: “Every Child shall have the right to holistic development and child participation”.

In 2018, the Jacobs Foundation bestows 10 awards to social innovators and change makers in the field of child and youth development. Each award will come with an amount of CHF 100’000. The recipients provide solutions for positive child and youth development at low cost, which are sustainable and can be easily implemented on the spot. What the ten awardees have in common is their wish for social change and their restless personal social engagement. They are beyond talking – they act.