SINDHULI, Dec 5: Rina Sada defeated her opponents in last year's local elections and became a ward member of Dudhauli Municipality-9. Dedicating herself to public service is not a challenge for her. But she has to deal with a great amount of awkwardness when she has to sign agreements or other documents or even the minutes after each meeting at the ward. As she can't write her signature, she has to rely on a thumb impression.
In 2017, Sindhuli was declared the 36th literate district in the country. However, that has been limited to papers as there are thousands of locals who can't even write their names properly.
Local media person Rohit Gurung said that some elected local representatives of Dudhauli start trembling when they have to put their signatures on something. The female members of Tinpatan Rural Municipality-4 deal with the same difficulty. So as to avoid embarrassment, some representatives learned to write their signatures after they were elected.
Karna Bahadur Thapa Magar, chairperson of Tinpatan Rural Municipality, says that no representative in his local unit relies on thumb impressions but there are many who are illiterate. Being in a remote area, most locals of Hariharpurgadhi Rural Municipality are deprived of education. Accepting that some of the ward members cannot even write their names properly, Karsang Tamang, chairperson of Hariharpurgadhi, said, "Mostly, female ward members find it difficult to write their signatures."
As per a survey of 2010, 46.886 females and 25,729 males were illiterate in the district. While declaring the district literate last year, 99.21% females and 98.96% males were said to be literate.
"Declaring Sindhuli a literate district was an announcement made in a hurry," said a local teacher, adding, "It is true that a lot of people now understand that it is equally important to send daughters to school but a large number of women above 50 years of age in the district are still illiterate."
Then District Education Office claimed that 42 literacy programs were conducted in the district last year to improve the literacy rate, following which the district was declared 100% literate. But the locals say that these programs were not as effective as also shown by the fact that even elected local representatives can't write their signatures. According to the locals, around 30 percent of the elected representatives are illiterate.