Mustang or “Kingdom of Lo” is located in the northeast of Nepal and is part of the Himalayas, also known as Parbat. After years of isolation and not being connected to China, just like the rest of Tibet, Mustang was able to completely preserve its Tibetan culture and ethnic roots – and this is the reason why it’s also called the “Last Tibet”. Independent for centuries, following the Tibetan language and culture, it became officially part of Nepal only in 1951. Currently Mustang has 14.000 inhabitants in a territory of 3.573 km. Despite being inside Nepalese borders, Mustang is probably one of the last places where you can really discover the real Tibet and its vast culture, a paradise marked with poverty and tough living conditions of its inhabitants. Mustang is indeed a region with a fresh summer weather, pretty similar to the Dolomites, but extremely difficult in winter time, with temperatures close to zero Celsius degrees and with strong winds.
There are a few health facilities, not particularly equipped to solve all emergencies; often located far from the villages (sometimes days of walking) and most part of the treatments follow the traditional medicine, an important resource that unfortunately does not give an immediate relief to the most serious conditions. Infant mortality is high and not all the kids arrive to adult age, which basically starts very soon here. Like in many other places of this region, in Mustang poverty results in infant malnutrition and low levels of education.
Teachers use the Nepali language since they don’t know the Standard Tibetan from Mustang, lots of them come from Kathmandu and in spite of their efforts and dedication, it is very hard for them to follow the community’s customs and traditions.
Until today there was no school that could offer an education that was able to gather the basic subjects with the Tibetan, Nepali and English languages.
The lack of a formal academic proposal, together with the shortage of schooling structures in Mustang, brought about a culture migration so that families encourage the departure of the young population (it can last from 10-15 years and in many cases it becomes permanent) in order to support the education of their own kids (which represents 5-7% of the population). For those not able to follow this situation, illiteracy and social neglect is the only alternative.
The geographic position of these structures does not allow all kids to reach them. As a result, the academic offer in Mustang was not able to offer a basic education and was not able to transfer the cultural identity of these people; indeed, it was scarce in terms of quantity and territory coverage. Since no official census on illiteracy has been done, it is estimated to have touched the worrying number of 80%.