CLC-Kominkan International Conference, Okayama Japan
This past October, the City of Okayama, Japan and UNESCO World Conference on ESD promotion organized Kominkan-CLC Internation Conference on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with the main theme of Community Based Human Development for A Sustainable Society. In Nepal, Kominkam is called a Community Learning Center (CLC) and is a grassroots organization established by the Ministry of Education. This World Conference was held from October 9 – 12 and I was invited to be a presenter to share my paper entitled “Social Business: As Option for CLCs to Sustain Financially and Creating Self Employment for Youths for Community Development” thanks to my work with A School for Community and Shikharapur Community Learning Center.
I was very proud to present alongside this group from all over the world
It has been about a decade since I started community development activities in the Pharping region of Kathmandu by being involved in community colleges, schools, NGOs and women empowerment initiatives. A few years ago I was selected to be a Program Officer for the Rukmini Foundation to help coordinate the local efforts of the foundation. While working with these prestigious organizations on very important social agendas, I experienced growth academically, professionally and personally. I felt that I was becoming more positive, active and creative in finding solutions for the problems we faced in places like Nepal.
In January of 2014, I visited Japan for the first time as I took part in the Asia Future Youth Project Conference in Okayama organized by Conference of International NGO Network (COINN). In that first visit, I presented a draft concept of the above mentioned paper. The organizer and funding partner of that Conference, the City of Okayama liked my draft paper presentation and I was fortunate enough to be invited to present the full concept during the world conference recently held in Okayama. I really felt proud to be invited, but also because it was about the initiatives, activities and the agendas that we are working on at a grassroots level in Nepal. I felt that I was representing the many people who are looking after the work in Nepal so this was a big opportunity not just for me, but the entire Pharping community.
This was a great learning opportunity for me, and I will be able to use these lessons in Nepal to help improve our community school
The conference was very impressive and there were 700 participants from 29 countries from all around the world. The grand opening of the conference was led by the mayor of Okayama, Mr. Masao Omori. The sessions included experts who shared their country’s reports related to the promotion of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). It was exciting to hear from experts in the field of literacy, environment conservation, education, community development, climate change and more share their expertise with the audience. It was a great platform for the CLC / Kominkan to share their ideas on an international stage. They talked about the opportunities, challenges, and future steps about how CLCs could succeed in different countries facing different situations. Hundreds of presenters shared their papers based on the CLC/Kominkan model with a special focus on ESD. These talks focused on Literacy, Education, Cultural Diversity, Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction, Income Generation, Policy Making, Empowerment and other important topics.
Me presenting about our work in income generating entrepreneurship and its role in community development
When it was my turn, I presented on the topic of Income Generation Entrepreneurship and Community Development. Presenting in this kind of conference was the highlight of my life and a great learning opportunity. Sharing my ideas and learning from others is very crucial to build our organizational network as well as for future expansion of our project scope. I was able to represent Nepal and my local community, and I was able to observe local programs in Okayama like the Saidaiji Kominkan where I presented my paper and the River Management Project of Japan in Okayama.
This was a very new experience, but I learned a lot, and I hope the other participants learned from our experience in Nepal as well
Looking back, this visit was very important to me personally, but also for all of the organizations I work with as well as the Pharping community as a whole. The ASC/Shikharapur CLC network is now connected with more Kominkan/CLCs, Japanese Government and Non Government Agencies as well as other global organizations working in the community development sector. I was also able to share the work Rukmini Foundation does as a grassroots effort to empower girls through education. A national conference is planned to be held in Nepal in early 2015 as a result of the ESD Conference in Japan. This will be yet another great learning opportunity for us and we will use what we have learned to continue to improve the programs for our local CLCs as well as our empowerment initiatives like the Rukmini Foundation programs.
Shikharapur CLC materials exhibited during the conference
Program Officer, Rukmini Foundation