From 1991, there has been 5 years compulsory and free schooling from the children reaches the age of 6 in Nepal. Almost all children start school, but many repeat at least one class. One third of the pupils do not finish primary school. After primary school, 3-year secondary school and 2-year high school follow. Nepali is the language of instruction. It is taught in English from 4th grade. Until 1991 it was forbidden to teach in local languages, but reforms aim to make it possible to teach in local languages in the first grades.
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The country has two public universities, Tribhuvan University (founded 1959) with departments around the country, and Mahendra Sanskrit University (1986), and in addition the private Kathmandu University (1991). According to UNESCO, illiteracy in 2001 amounted to approx. 57% of the adult population.
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As constitutional rights were now put into effect, the number of dead grew rapidly – both by civilians and rebels. The conflict now had the character of a “civil war” and in April 2002 had cost 2100 lives and sent 100,000 on the run to neighboring Bhutan.
Despite a 5% annual GDP growth, 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, 2½ million. children are working, there is a severe energy crisis and the lack of water is alarming.
In May 2002, Prime Minister Deuba used the state of emergency as an excuse to dissolve parliament and print new elections for November. One month before the election and after refusing to negotiate with the rebels, Deuba advised the king to postpone the election for a year while the rebel pockets came under military control. King Gyanendra fired Deuba instead and appointed Lokendra Bahadur Chand in his place. At the same time, he postponed the election indefinitely.
In late January 2003, the Maoists offered a ceasefire to start peace talks. Among their demands was that the government cease to refer to them as “terrorists” and removed the promise of ransom for the arrest of partisans. Both claims that Kathmandu agreed to.
In March 2004, Nepal was admitted to the WTO.
In April, opposition groups joined the ongoing strike against the monarchy joining the executive. Schools and businesses were closed and the roads were patrolled by security forces. The same month, the rebels released officers and security personnel who had been captured during violent clashes in the northwestern part of the country.
In May, Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa resigned following repeated opposition protests against the government. At the same time, the opposition had demonstrated that King Gyanendra was giving up power, which could pave the way for a multi-party government.
In June, the king appointed Sher Bahadur Deuba as new prime minister, declaring that in his office he would seek to create a consensus in the country.
In August, the rebels conducted an offensive against the capital, Kathmandu, cutting off the city from the outside world. In the same month, 20 Nepalese who were abducted in Iraq were executed by their abductors, sparking fierce protests in Kathmandu.
A two-day strike in September initiated by the Maoists paralyzed the country. Roads, shops and schools were closed as a result of the strike and security forces guarded the government buildings. The rebels demanded two captured rebel leaders be released. That same month, the rebels again rejected a proposal from Sher Bahadur Deuba to begin negotiations to end the guerrilla struggle.
In February 2005, King Gyanendra conducted a coup d’etat, ousted the prime minister and personally assumed government responsibility. The move was a response to demands from the rebels to negotiate directly with the king and not with his representatives. In contrast, the coup was criticized by USA, France and India. Washington also stated that the coup could jeopardize US humanitarian aid to Nepal.