Ministry of Population and Environment
 
 
Population
Population Perspective Plan (PPP)
Nepal Population Report 2002
Country Report 2003
Other Publications
   
Download Preeti Font
MOPE Officials
Monitoring Quality
   
General Information
  Feedback
 
Sitemap
 
Contact Us
 
 
Population > Nepal Population Report 2002 > Chapter 5

Chapter 5
Education, Language, Religion And Ethnicity


5.1. Education

5.1.1. Literacy
Very few studies on literacy at the national level have been carried out. Consequently census data are the main source of literacy in Nepal. In earlier censuses of Nepal literacy is defined as the ability to read and write. In 1991 census the definition of literacy was changed and it included the ability to read and write with understanding and to perform simple arithmetic calculations (CBS, 1995). This same definition has also been followed in the 2001 census. The literacy rate has increased gradually over the last 45 years. The trend of literacy has been shown in Table below.

Table 5.1
Literacy trend in Nepal for persons 6 years and above by sex, 1952/54-2001

Year Male Female Total
1952/ 54 9.5 0.7 5.3
1961 16.3 1.8 8.9
1971 23.6 3.9 14
1981 34 12 23.3
1991 54.5 25 39.6
2001 65.1 42.5 53.7
Source : CBS, 1995; MOE 2000, CBS2002.

From a very low level of literacy in 1950s, Nepal has made a substantial progress in increasing literacy over the years. The census of 2001 has indicated that currently the literacy rate among the population of 6 years or older in Nepal is 54 percent with male literacy rate of 65 and female literacy rate of 43. Yet there is a lot to be done to reach a universal literacy target. For this HMG has already embarked on both the formal and non-formal education system in Nepal. Detailed data from the 2001 census on literacy and education is till not available, however earlier differentials indicated by the 1991 census are still valid. For example, there is a wide gap in literacy figures for rural and urban areas. Current gender gap in literacy rate is nearly 23 percentage points and data have indicated that the gap between male and female literacy is decreasing.

5.1.2 Formal Education
The schooling system in Nepal has been divided in four levels viz.; a) primary (grade I-V), b) lower secondary (VI-VIII), c) secondary (IX-X) and d) higher education.

Education in Nepal and primary education in particular has developed significantly since 1971 when the New Education Plan was introduced. In recent years the number of primary schools increased by nearly three fold between 1971 and 2001 (from 10,600 to 26,036). Between 1991 and 2001, on an average more than 900 new primary schools were added each year and the number of primary school teachers has reached nearly 100,000 in 2001.


The net enrollment rate for the primary level of education is 80.4 percent while the rate for boys and girls are respectively 86.0 and 74.8. Over all drop out rate in the primary level grade 5 is around 17.7 while for the boys and girls separately are 18.4 and 16.9 respectively(MOE 2002). These data suggest that there have been positive developments in the enrollment at primary level as well as decrease in dropout rates over the years.

The lower secondary level begins at grade 6 and is completed at grade 8. Most of the lower secondary schools are either integrated with the primary schools or with the secondary schools. The number of lower secondary schools increased by nearly three times between 1971 (2700) and 2001 (7289). On an average, nearly 400 new Lower secondary schools were added each year. In fact this growth in number of lower secondary schools is a big achievement.

The net enrollment rate in this level is 33 i.e. only a third of school going children for this level are attending school. Despite a large increase in number of schools, number of children enrolled in these schools is still low indicating a high drop out and low percent graduating to lower secondary schools. Like the primary level of education enrollment for girls is nearly 11 percentage point lower than that for boys (28% vs. 39%).

The secondary level of education in Nepal comprises grades 9 and 10. Like the expansion of primary and lower secondary level schools there has been a substantial increase at this level as well. For example, between 1971 and 2001, the number of secondary schools increased by more than four fold, from 918 to 4350. Between this period on an average more than 110 new secondary schools were added each year. Because of high drop out rates at earlier grades as well as lower promotion rates, currently the net enrollment rate is only 20 percent. The differentials in net enrollment rate at this level indicate that more boys are enrolled at this level compared to girls (24 vs. 16).

Higher secondary education, which comprises schooling at grades 11 and 12 is a new concept in Nepal's educational history. Approximately 65,000 students were enrolled at more than 500 higher secondary schools in 1999 (MOF, 2000). Although, access to tertiary i.e. after school education has also been expanding over the years only 0.64 percent of population was enrolled at these levels. Corresponding figure for women was only 0.23. Tertiary education is being provided through the umbrella of five universities, Tribhuvan University (TU), Mahendra Sanskrit University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara University and Purwanchal University. About 250 campuses are being run under these universities.

5.1.3. Non-formal Education
In order to increase the literacy (among adults) as well as entice children to formal schooling HMG has been implementing non-formal literacy/education programmes. These programmes can be divided in two categories, first, is for adults and elders and mainly attempts to increase literacy in this group. The second part is being implemented for school-age children. Non-formal education programmes for school age children focuses on out of school children between 8 and 14 years of age. The Basic and Primary Education Project is the main provider of this type of education. The adult literacy programme is much larger and under this scheme between 1992 and 2001, nearly 950 thousand people have acquired literacy.

5.2. LanguageM
Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi ethnic society. Data on language spoken at home is usually analyzed through mother tongue. A mother tongue is defined as one spoken by a person in his/her early childhood. The 1952/54 census collected information on 36 languages but tabulated only 24. The 1961 census collected information on 52 languages but tabulated only 36 mainly because of limited number of cases for some languages. After 1971 census only 20 or less languages are being tabulated by different variables. However, the National Language Policy Advisory Commission has listed 60 living languages in the kingdom. According to 1991 census more than 50 percent of total population has Nepali as their mother tongue followed by Maithili (12%). Other main languages are Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang, Newari, Magar, Rai and Abadhi. Following languages are spoken by less than one percent of the poulation; a) santhal (0.04%) b) Thakali (0.04%), c) Danuwar (0.13%) and d) Satar (0.14%). Distribution of population of Nepal by mother tongue from 1961 to 2001 is shown in Table 5.2 and 5.3.

Table 5.2.
Population Distribution by Mother Tongue, Nepal, 1961 - 1991(Percent)

Mother tongue
Population
  1961 1971 1981 1991
1. Nepali 50.96 52.45 58.36 50.31
2. Maithali 12.03 11.49 11.11 11.85
3. Bhojpuri 6.13 6.98 7.61 7.46
4. Tharu 4.32 4.29 3.63 5.37
5. Avadhi 5.07 2.74 1.56 2.03
6. Rajbanshi 0.59 0.48 0.4 0.46
7. Hindi 0.03 - - 0.92
8. Urdu 0.03 - - 1.09
9. Tamang 5.62 4.8 3.48 4.89
10. Newari 4.01 3.94 2.99 3.73
11. Magar 2.71 2.5 1.42 2.33
12. Rai/Kiranti 2.55 2.01 1.47 2.38
13. Gurung 1.68 1.49 1.16 1.23
14. Limbu 1.47 1.48 0.86 1.37
15. Bhote/Sherpa 0.89 0.69 0.49 0.66
16. Sunuwar 0.14 0.18 0.07 -
17. Danuwar 0.12 0.09 0.09 0.13
18. Thakali 0.07 - 0.04 0.04
19. Satar 0.2 0.18 0.15 0.14
20. Santhal 0.11 0.03 0.04 0.04
Others 1.22 4.21 5.09 3.51
Unspecified 0.07 - - 0.05
Total 100 100 100 100
Source: CBS, 1995.

Table 5.3 Mother Tongue Population Census 2001

Mother Tongue Number Percent
Nepali 11053255 48.98
Maithali 2797582 12.4
Bhojpuri 1712536 7.59
Tharu(Dagaura/Rana) 1331546 5.9
Tamang 1179145 5.22
Newar 825458 3.66
Magar 770116 3.41
Awadhi 560744 2.48
Bantawa 371056 1.64
Gurung 338925 1.5
Limbu 333633 1.48
Bajjika 237947 1.05
Urdu 174840 0.77
Rajbanshi 129883 0.58
Sherpa 129771 0.58
Hindi 105765 0.47
Chamling 44093 0.2
Santhali 40193 0.18
Chepang 36807 0.16
Danuwar 31849 0.14
Dhangar/Jhangar 28615 0.13
Sunuwar 26611 0.12
Bangla 23602 0.1
Marwari/Rajasthani 22637 0.1
Majhi 21841 0.1
Thami 18991 0.08
Kulung 18686 0.08
Dhimal 17308 0.08
Angika 15892 0.07
Yakkha 14648 0.06
Thulung 14034 0.05
Sangpang 10810 0.05
Bhujel/Khabas 10733 0.05
Darai 10210 0.04
Khaling 9288 0.03
Kumal 6533 0.03
Thakali 6441 0.03
Chhanttyal 5912 0.03
Sanketic(Nepali Symbolic sign) 5743 0.03
Tibetan 5277 0.02
Dumi 5271 0.02
Jirel 4919 0.02
Wambule/umbule 4471 0.02
Puma 4310 0.02
Yholomo 3986 0.02
Nachhiring 3553 0.02
Dura 3397 0.02
Meche 3301 0.01
Pahari 2995 0.01
Lepcha/Lapche 2826 0.01
Bote 2823 0.01
Bahing 2765 0.01
Koi/Koyu 2641 0.01
Raji 2413 0.01
Hayu 1743 0.01
Byangshi 1734 0.01
Yamphu/Yamphe 1722 0.01
Ghale 1649 0.01
Khadiya 1575 0.01
Chhiling 1314 0.01
Lohorung 1207 0.01
Punjabi 1165 0.01
Chinese 1101 0
English 1037 0
Mewahang 904 0
Sanskrit 823 0
Kaike 794 0
Raute 518 0
Kisan 489 0
Churauti 408 0
Baram/Maramu 342 0
Tilung 310 0
Jero/Jerung 271 0
Dungmali 221 0
Criya 159 0
Lingkhim 97 0
Kusunda 87 0
Sindhi 72 0
Munda 67 0
Haryanwi 33 0
Magahi 30 0
Sam 30 0
Kurmali 23 0
Kagate 13 0
Dzonkha 10 0
Kuki 9 0
Chhintang 8 0
Mizo 8 0
Nagamise 6 0
Lhomi 4 0
Assamese 3 0
Sadhani 2 0
Unidentified languages 168340 0.75
Total 22736934 100
Source:CBS 2002.

Table 5.3 provides data on mother tongue obtained from the 2001 census. This census records 92 different languages spoken in Nepal with a 93rd category as "unidentified". Data indicate that the major language spoken in Nepal are Nepali (49%) Maithili (12%) Bhojpuri (8%) Tharu (6%) Tamang (5%) Newari ( 4%) Magar (3%) Awadhi (2%) Bantawa (2%) Limbu (1%) and Bajjika (1%). Other languages constitute less than one percent of the population.

5.3. Religion
Nepal is constitutionally a Hindu kingdom with legal provisions of no discrimination against other religions. The Hindu population in the country has been consistently over 80 percent since 1950s. The second largest religion in Nepal is Buddhism; practiced by about 11 percent, while Islam constitutes about 4.2 percent of the population. Kirat religion accounts for nearly 3.6 percent of the population.

Table 5.4
Population Distribution by Religion, Nepal, 1961 - 2001

Religion
Census Year
  1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Hindu 87.69 89.39 89.5 86.51 80.62
Buddhist 9.25 7.5 5.32 7.78 10.74
Muslim 2.98 3.04 2.66 3.53 4.2
Kirant - - - 1.72 3.6
Christian - 0.02 0.03 0.17 0.45
Jain 0.01 0.05 0.06 0.04 0.02
Others - - 2.43 0.14 0.39
Unspecified 0.06 - - 0.1 -
Total 100 100 100 100 100
Source: CBS 1995,CBS 2002

5.4. Ethnicity
Classification of population by caste and ethnicity is only tentative. While the 1991 census has recorded 60 caste and ethnic groups, the National Ethnic Groups Development Committee has identified 65 such groups. The census of 2001 has listed 103 caste/ethnic groups including "unidentified group".

The caste system of Nepal is basically rooted in Hindu religion. On the other hand, the ethnic system has been rooted mainly in mutually exclusive origin myths, historical mutual seclusion and the occasional state intervention (NESAC, 1998)

According to the 1991 census (CBS, 1995) an overwhelming majority (68.36%) of caste belong to the caste that originated from the hills. The caste originating from Terai constitute only 31 percent, and the mountain caste is only less than 1 percent. Moreover, most of the people originated in Terai do not live in the hills or mountains, but about one fifth of hill originated caste live in Terai region. Out of 60 castes identified by the 1991 census, Chhetri constituted 16.1%, followed by Hill Brahmins 13%, Magar 7.2%, Tharu 6.5%, Newar 5.6%, Tamang 5.5%, Kami 5.2%, Yadav-Ahir 4.1%, Musalman 3.5%, Rai 2.8%, Gurung 2.4%, and Damai 2%. Other castes constituting over 1% each are Thakuri, Limbu, Sarki, Teli, Kushwaha and Chamar.

The major caste/ethnic group identified by the 2001 census area Chhetri (15.8%) Brahmin Hill (12.7%), Magar (7.1%), Tharu (6.8%) Tamang (5.6%) Newar (5.5%), Muslim (4.3%) Kami (3.9%), Rai (3.9),Gurung, (2.8%) Damai/Dholi (2.4%). Other caste ethnic group constitute less than 2 percent of the population and their list can clearly be seen from Table 1.15

Table 5.5
Caste Ethnic group data Census 2001

Caste /Ethnic Group Number Percent
Chhettri 3593496 15.8
Brahman-Hill 2896477 12.74
Magar 1622421 7.14
Tharu 1533879 6.75
Tamang 1282304 5.64
Newar 1245232 5.48
Muslim 971056 4.27
Kami 895954 3.94
Yadav 895423 3.94
Rai 635151 2.79
Gurung 543571 2.39
Damai/Dholi 390305 1.72
Limbu 359379 1.58
ThakurI 334120 1.47
Sarki 318989 1.4
Teli 304536 1.34
Chamar, Harijan, Ram 269661 1.19
Koiri 251274 1.11
Kurmi 212842 0.94
Sanyasi 199127 0.88
Dhanuk 188150 0.83
Musahar 172434 0.76
Dusad/Paswan/Pasi 158525 0.7
Sherpa 154622 0.68
Sonar 145088 0.64
Kewat 136953 0.6
Brahman-Terai 134496 0.59
Baniya 126971 0.56
Gharti/Bhujel 117568 0.52
Mallah 115986 0.51
Kalwar 115606 0.51
Kumal 99389 0.44
Hajam/Thakur 98169 0.43
Kanu 95826 0.42
Rajbansi 95812 0.42
Sunuwar 95254 0.42
Sudhi 89846 0.4
Lohar 82637 0.36
Tatma 76512 0.34
Khatwe 74972 0.33
Dhobi 73413 0.32
Majhi 72614 0.32
Nuniya 66873 0.29
Kumhar 54413 0.24
Danuwar 53229 0.23
Chepang(Praja) 52237 0.23
Haluwai 50583 0.22
Rajput 48454 0.21
Kayastha 46071 0.2
Budhae 45975 0.2
Marwadi 43971 0.19
Santhal/satar 42698 0.19
Dhagar/Jhagar 41764 0.18
Bantar 35839 0.16
Barae 35434 0.16
Kahar 34531 0.15
Gangai 31318 0.14
Lodha 24738 0.11
Rajbhar 24263 0.11
Thami 22999 0.1
Dhimal 19537 0.09
Bhote 19261 0.08
Bing/Binda 18720 0.08
Bhediyar/Gaderi 17729 0.08
Nurang 17522 0.08
Yakkha 17003 0.07
Darai 14859 0.07
Tajpuriya 13250 0.06
Thakali 12973 0.06
Chidimar 12296 0.05
Pahari 11505 0.05
Mali 11390 0.05
Bangali 9860 0.04
Chhantel 9814 0.04
Dom 8931 0.04
Kamar 8761 0.04
Bote 7969 0.04
Brahmu/Baramu 7383 0.03
Gaine 5887 0.03
Jirel 5316 0.02
Adibasi/Janajati 5259 0.02
Duga 5169 0.02
Churaute 4893 0.02
Badi 4442 0.02
Meche 3763 0.02
Lepcha 3660 0.02
Halkhor 3621 0.02
Punjabi/Sikh 3054 0.01
Kisan 2876 0.01
Raji 2399 0.01
Byangsi 2103 0.01
Hayu 1821 0.01
Koche 1429 0.01
Dhunia 1231 0.01
Walung 1148 0.01
Jaine 1015 0
Munda 660 0
Raute 658 0
Yehlmo 579 0
Patharkata/Kuswadiya 552 0
Kusunda 164 0
Dalit/Unidentified 173401 0.76
Unidentified Caste/Ethnicity 231641 1.02




Contact Address:
Ministry of Population and Environment, Singhadurbar, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Phone: +977-1-4245 367 / 368 / 369, Fax: +977-1-4242 138
Email: info@mope.gov.np