Enjoying nutritious school lunches
Children from Rasuwa showing off their English work
Devi Gram Sudhar School Young Leaders Group

Why Freedom to Learn was Started
Education makes a real difference!

“I didn’t realise how true this was until I went to India. It really opened my eyes to how much we take for granted in the UK, including our education; and the impact a good education can have on a family in the long term.

My husband and I were travelling in India in 1998 when we came across an empty school which was unable to operate due to having no money. We really wanted to do something to help, so when we returned to the UK, we decided to start raising money for the school and sponsoring children to go to school.

Joey Owen
Joey Owen

A few years later, I was studying for my Masters in ‘Theatre for Development.’ As part of this, I travelled to the Himalayas to work on a theatre project in a school. It was here that I learned that there are bigger, more complex issues that seem to stop a child from going to school, and getting an education and furthering themselves and their family. Things such as:

  • ♦ Lack of transport
  • ♦ Gender discrimination
  • ♦ Ethnic discrimination
  • ♦ Lack of facilities
  • ♦ Lack of teachers
  • ♦ Quality of teaching
  • ♦ Children having to work to earn

Having seen this first hand, I realised that we needed to get more involved in supporting the families and the local communities and improve the teaching to encourage them to go to school. This holistic approach lies at the heart of ‘Freedom to Learn.’

It is so important to make the school a thriving heart of the community – a place that people love, a place with quality teaching, a place where parents want to send their children. A child’s future and their family’s future is really improved with good access to education and support. We are not raising money to build schools; we want to improve and support existing schools through better teaching, better accountability, and better facilities.

“I see we are making a difference year upon year, with more children and happier children attending school, better school facilities, more confident and more qualified teachers, an improved academic results, and it is so rewarding to also see the positive impact that has on the community the school serves.  “

What We Do

Freedom to Learn, a UK based charity, works to provide the opportunity of education to children from some of the remotest regions of the Himalayas and South Asia.

“We do this by working collaboratively with local grass roots organisations as implementing partners. This structure is not only a legal requirement in Nepal and India, but also ensures that the work we do is locally and contextually relevant. It safeguards against wasted resources, increasing the prospect for sustained and significant impact for the communities we work with.  Our partners “Rural Community Foundation Nepal” “Edulift” and “Sahasi Ketaketi” are all monitored and audited by both their National Governing Charities Body and by our team on the ground. And after working together since 2012, we know they do a fantastic job.”

“We are also committed to raising public awareness about the importance of education and development work; facilitating and mentoring advocacy projects in both Nepal and the UK.

In many areas of the developing world education is key to lifting children and their families out of poverty. Providing adequate education is fundamental to helping young people and families gain independence and emotional and financial security, that we often take for granted.





The children Freedom to Learn currently supports come predominantly from the Indian Himalayas and Nepal. The Kullu, Lahaul Spiti, and Zanskar regions are situated in the Himalayas of Northern India. Kullu, once known as Kulanthpitha, meaning ‘the end of the habitable world’, is the largest valley in the Kullu district and also the most accessible of the valleys we work in. Many of the children FTL sponsor are at school in Kullu, despite having to travel from much further flung valleys, where they board for anything up to 10 months of the year.

Much of our recent project work is carried out in the Kathmandu Valley, and the Northern Districts of Nepal, close to the Tibetan Border. The children Freedom to Learn work alongside are all from migrant and therefore ‘marginalised’ communities. In addition, we carry out public awareness campaigns in the UK about the importance of education for children in developing countries, and education based development projects in other countries in South Asia.