May 24th, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Going to school, instead of work

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By Betsy Anderson, CNN

(CNN) - Purnima lives in Nepal. She wants to be a nurse. But because she is a girl instead of a boy, she is more likely to go to work than go to school.

In Nepal, government schools start charging tuition in the sixth grade. But Purnima was selected to be part of the Girls Education program with the nonprofit Room to Read and was able to continue her education.

"I am the first person getting an education in my family and my brother and sisters did not get the chance due to our family background ... we are from a poor family so we cannot afford to go to school," says Purnima.

Purnima lives with her family in a room above the carpet factory where her older sister works. Her father is paralyzed. Her mother became blind when Purnima was 2 years old. All her siblings stopped going to school after the fifth grade.

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Purnima is 17 and has just finished secondary school at the top of her class. In fact, she was at the top of her class every year.

Purnima is about to start two years of Nepal's post-secondary school and she plans to go on to college. For a long time, she wanted to be an eye doctor. Now she says she is going to be a nurse and she may have a good chance to do just that. According to Room to Read, about 76% of its graduates go on to some kind of university, college or vocational training after secondary school.

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