Nepalese church opens ICT center to promote youth employment

The first group of eight students at the new ICT center of the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church in the southeastern city of Biratnagar. Photo: NELC

COVID-19 protective measures in place for students and instructors

(LWI) – The Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC) has welcomed the first group of students to its new information and communication technology (ICT) center, set up to promote youth employment in Biratnagar city in the southeastern district of Morang.

The Nepal Youth Empowerment Project center opened its doors in early September to eight young women trainees for classes in IT, English and vocational courses. The ICT center inauguration had been postponed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in the country.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) supports the NELC’s youth empowerment project. The center was established with the goal of equipping young men and women with skills that position them for employment in the country’s growing ICT sector and other areas. Upon completion of their respective courses, the new trainees stand a better chance of employment in departmental stores, hospitals, schools and local government offices. They can also set up their own small-scale businesses to serve local needs.

The church considers the youth empowerment project as critical in a country with almost 25 percent of the population of 29 million people living below the national poverty line. NELC General Secretary Rev. Patras Marandi describes the center as a milestone for the youth. “They will be empowered with skills that will not only transform the lives of individuals but of their families, and help to break the cycle of poverty,” he says.

NELC’s initial goal was to enroll 50 students from the district in the first year and another 80 in the second and third years.

A cautious approach because of COVID-19

Nepal, which imposed a lockdown from March until July, had more than 84,500 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 500 deaths by early October. NELC is cautious in its teaching approach at the new center, taking the necessary measures to ensure that classes are small, integrating online teaching, and that students and instructors in the center’s compound observe safety guidelines.

“Removing the lockdown does not mean that we are free from the COVID-19 risk. To be protected, people have to be more careful in obeying the safety rules,” Marandi adds.

Through a diverse range of projects including theological training, livelihood initiatives, women’s and youth empowerment, the LWF supports its member churches to provide hands-on solutions to pressing needs in their congregations and wider community. NELC expects that the majority of youth graduating from the ICT Center will be able to find employment within one year and that the Lutheran church can contribute to youth employment in the country.

The Nepal Evengelical Lutheran Church has 1,270 members and it joined the LWF in 2010.