October 24, 2017, New York, USA
On the auspicious occasion of UN Day 2017, a Nepalese citizen Nawal Yadav received a prestigious award; United Nations Secretary-General Award 2017 by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary- General of the United Nation at the Secretariat New York. Each year the United Nations provides the Secretary-General Award to the staff who has contributed above and beyond the call of duty. Coinciding with the United Nations Day, the United Nations Secretariat awarded the Secretary-General Awards to winners in the four categories. Secretariat had received a total of 121 nominations of which four finalists were selected in each category. One of the categories was Champion of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Mr. Yadav was the winner of the Secretary-General Award in the category “Champion of the SDGs” for his support to community school in Nepal.
Under the United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/1, Member States universally approved 17 SDGs as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Access to quality education is one among the SDGs. The people are at the heart of these goals which in totality aim to “leave no one behind”. As the champion of the SDGs was introduced as an award category for the first time, to become a recipient of such prestigious award not only represents a significant achievement in his career but more importantly it is a matter of pride for the country Nepal and Nepalese around the world.
Born and raised in the Village Timakiya of Mahottari Disrtrict of Nepal, Mr. Yadav had joined the United Nations service as an internal auditor in April 2003 and served for 14 years at United Offices at Nairobi, Peacekeeping Mission in East Timor, Peace Keeping Mission in Sudan and the United Nations Headquarters at New York. Mr. Yadav is a Chartered accountant. Prior to joining the United Nations, he had served 25 years in Nepal Government and three years in PricewaterhouseCoopers associated firm in Nepal. It is a pride to be a recipient of such a prestigious Award at the international level.
Inspired by the Millennium Development Goals of achieving universal primary education, Mr. Yadav has been supporting the community school in Nepal, where he completed his primary education. He contributed from his savings to the renovation and development of the school infrastructure, to help to improve the quality of education, and founded the “Nawal-Dukhani Yadav Foundation” to foster this Goal.
After serving more than three decades in various offices and different parts of the world Mr. Yadav concluded that education is the most powerful enabling asset for human development. However, there is a growing disparity in the quality of education in Nepal between the government community schools and private schools. This has disadvantaged government community school students in their further education and employment given their poor School Leaving Certificate (SLC-Grade 10) results when compared with the better SLC results of students graduating from private schools. Students attending the government community schools are predominantly from poor families who could not financially afford to enrol their children for further education. This is leading to inequality in the future of students passing from government community schools and the students passing from private boarding schools. This has the potential to divide the Nepali society between rich, educated and with an opportunity for employment; and poor, less competent and having little opportunity for employment. This is a source of radicalism and disquiet in a community.
Therefore, Mr. Yadav realised that there is a greater need to support the community schools. In order to financially support the community school, he contributed NRs.3.6 million (USD 36,000) to the community school situated in Bhoil Timakiya of Mahottari District of Nepal where he had completed his primary education. The contribution helped to improve the quality of education and improve infrastructure including the construction of girls’ toilet in the school. The school had total 844 students with 407 girls. It had only one toilet for girls that indicated the suffering of girl student in the school. The construction of additional girl toilets provided the basic required hygienic facility for the girl student.
Further, he provided annual scholarships to 15 students securing first, second and third positions from 6th to 10th grades to encourage the bright students for education. Similarly, Mr. Yadav contributed NRs. 216,000 (USD 2,000) for the construction of modern toilets in the Shree Sarswati Secondary School, Janakpur Dham where he had completed his high school education.
After receiving the 2017 UN Secretary-General Award (Champion of SDGs), Mr. Yadav expressed his views that it is important for the Government of Nepal including donor agencies to give due attention for improving the quality education in community schools which are the only available primary source of education for the marginalized community. The good quality of education will not only significantly contribute to Nations building but it will also contribute for the success of other SDGs (poverty, Health, Gender equality, peace and sanitation etc.)
(Mr. Nawal Yadav with Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations-Amina J. Mohammed after receiving 2017 United Nations Secretary-General Award ( Champion of SDGs).