Open Journal of Social Sciences
Vol.04 No.11(2016), Article ID:72262,16 pages

Impacts of Transnational Labor Migration on Learning Process: A Case Study of Nepalese Children and Women Staying Behind

Anchala Chaudhary

Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Copyright © 2016 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY 4.0).

Received: October 31, 2016; Accepted: November 22, 2016; Published: November 25, 2016


Transnational migration has become an essential feature of family life in Nepal due to process of urbanization and globalization in every part of life. During this process, a network of social relationships takes place through which ideas, practices, and resources are exchanged and transformed between migrants and non-migrants. Migrants remit and support their sending households by remitting not only money but also new culture that he/she encounter in new place. This assist non migrants especially, the children and wife to demand high wages, access new opportunities such as education and better health care and reject the status quo. A wives staying behind has to be more responsible for not only to raise and educate their children but also manage their household’s chores and outside activities. In Nepal, the provision of education is embedded in the social structures and infused by cultural meanings which generally restrict women to participate more or less in formal education and move outside of home. Migration has provides ground for nurturing the women’s autonomy, self-esteem and role expansion as they started to participate in community based organizations (CBO’s), non-government organization (NGO) to learn some informal skill and knowledge such as stitching, embroidery, handicraft, and so on. Furthermore, these women are more responsible to provide better education to the children and managing the remittance. Thus, women’s staying behind has learned to manage not only economic and emotional limitations but also to organize and create new identities, alliances, space of self and communal empowerment.


Transnational Migration, Formal Learning, Informal Learning

1. Introduction

Migration has become an integral feature of family life in many parts of the world due to urbanization and globalization and is projected to accelerate in the near future [1] . In developing countries more than 170 million people are living outside their home countries and sending back more than $80 billion which ultimately increased the remittance at higher rates [2] . Remittances have become essential means of livelihood security for hundreds of thousands of poor families worldwide and a major source of foreign exchange for many low-income countries [1] . Though, there are many reasons behind the migrant’s movement however, the major reasons lies in livelihood security for their families, lack of adequate domestic job opportunities and in search of better living conditions in another place. When these migrants leave their home in search of better opportunities then he/she belong to two or more societies at the same time [3] as they might devoted towards their homeland due root of their origin and incorporated in another countries that receive them where they started to live and work. Thus, the migration process creates linkages between migrants and non-migrants family members, friends, and neighbors at home and destination place. Transnational migrations which take place in a network of social relationships are exchanged through different ideas, practices, and resources and transformed between movers and non-movers [4] . The people left behind always maintain a ties of social relationship with the migrants through the different means of communication which obliges migrants not to remit only money but also new culture that he/she encounter in new place. The migrants from developing countries started to sell their labor and skills to country where they settle and send not only money but also introduce knowledge and skills back to origin country [5] . Thus, the new way of life experienced abroad introduces both economic and social remittance such as new ideas and practices to sending countries. The reasons behind this transfer are the migrant’s children and wife and for which migrants always remit and visit the home [4] .

The migrants engaged in labor market is conceived as social field (Thieme, 2005) i.e. where all the forms of economic, social, symbolic and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986) are practiced. The common characteristics of all kinds of capital are that they can transform into one another not automatically but through the transformation of work (Bourdieu, 1983). Thieme’s study among Nepalese labor migrants in India reveals the fact that how migrants mobilize social networking channel such as friends and relatives to enter in labor market and earn economic capital [6] . These economic capitals can be taken as pre-condition for the take-off of an individual in society to acquire all other form of capital [7] and thus the transformation of one form of capital into another is ongoing process in labor market with the intervention of migrants.

The question arises here concerning the formal and informal learning practices take place due to migration process in both movers and non-movers life through the use of remittance. Remittance are more than economic as emigration can also bring about social transfers of knowledge, attitudes and practices, which confer both benefits and costs on the well-being of the people left behind [8] . The social remittance exchanges occurs when migrants return to live in or visits their homeland as Levitt and Nieves (2011) asserts that, “what migrants bring and continue to receive from their homelands affects their experiences in the countries where they settle”. Thus, what migrants remit and support their sending households and communities is undeniable as it provides non movers to demand high wages, access new opportunities such as education and better health care and reject the status quo [9] . In fully assessing the consequences of labor migration, a core element is to understand the impacts of remittance on the formal and informal way of learning both by movers and non-movers. Thus, this study is conducted to show the relationship between remittance and education in non-movers life, especially the women and children who stay behind.

This study examines the case of Nepal, a country which through extensive labor migration has been participating in the global remittance economy for many decades. This had several effects on socialization process of the people left behind especially the wife and children. International labor migration is not a new phenomenon in Nepal; it has long been a used as a livelihood strategy for making a living by the Nepalese people [10] . The lack of job opportunities and high wages abroad attract both skilled as un- skilled workforce and makes Nepal’s to stand as sixth-highest remittance receiver country [11] . Thus, remittance is considered as development tool in Nepal [12] . The impact of economic remittance is shown clearly on education of the children and women status in community. Women increased their roles and responsibilities with movement of their husband both inside and outside the house. Galvan (2015) believe that, women staying behind have to be responsible for not only to raise and educate their children but also manage their household chores including the outside activities such as: participating in a grassroots organization and community activities [13] . Thus, the idea of education is not only linked with schooling but to the different informal ways that people learned through their life-time. In case of Nepal, the provision of the education in Nepal is embedded in the social structures and infused by cultural meanings which generally restrict women to participate more or less in formal education however; they are engaged in life-time learning process. In such a situation, male-out migration provides chance for female to enroll in outside activities that make them self-dependent and self-assurance. Thus, education is not only acquired from an institution but cognitive capacity that gains though participating in informal practices in community. Education is not only school based learning process but also socially legitimate processes of training and learning phenomenon that are interlinked with different aspects of an individual life that makes an individual knowledgeable and recognized in their specific cultural setting [14] . So, remittance income helps in transforming cultural traditions and consumption behavior that influences the motivation and choices affecting education [12] .

1.1. Analytical Framework

These research questions were addressed from a theoretical point of view which was complemented with the case studies carried out among children and wife of migrant workers. To fulfill this purpose, different analytical approaches were chosen as a means of understanding. A trans-border feminist approach to migration and different form of social and economic remittance formation through transnational migration provides a helpful analytical framework for responding women and children left behind. Thus, I have drawn on theoretical framework of Ruth Trinida Galvan (2015) to look at the impacts of migration process on those who stay behind. Her book named, “Women Who Stay Behind: Pedagogies of Survival in Rural Transmigrant Mexico”, provides a gendered perspective on those impacted by the migration phenomenon and their response to their trans-border realities. The book confers that, the transmigration of male introduces new ideas, capital, bodies and information; and alters the roles and perspectives of women who stay behind. Further these women are engaged in different community based organization and enhance their teaching and learning skills which ultimately increased their level of thinking, power of activism and community leadership.

I also draw on work done by Peggy Levitt (2001) to look at how social remittance along with economic remittance are transforming in sending countries from the host countries and how migrants are interconnected with both of these places at same time. In her ethnographic book named, “The Transnational Villager”, Levitt analyze how people live transnationally by describing the ways in which people live their daily lives and stay connected to two places i.e. their homeland and country of settlement. She believes that social connection and institution allows migrants to active in both places. She argue, both movers and non-movers are equally affected by migration process as the non-movers are the people who received remittance, practices, ideas, information from the migrants. Thus, her concept of “social remittance” i.e. ideas, behavior, identities, and social capital that flows from host to sending communities (54) provide a ground to think that migrants are not sending only money but all other form of social and cultural at same tie.

My analytical framework moves in between both the gender and transnational perspectives; as both of these frameworks are talking about the kinds of capital that are gained in social field and have great influence over the people left behind. I have tried to use both of these frameworks in their original sense in relation to a see the impacts of economic and social remittance on both formal and informal socialization process take place during process of migration. My aim throughout the present study is to look out the impacts of transnational migration on education process that encounter in non-mover life especially the children and wives. More specifically, the study deals with how rural women became empowered through informal learning practices in absence of their husband by participating in different community based organizations and households activities with their own cognitive capacity in absence of their spouse. On one hand, these women are becoming self-reliance whereas on other hand they are fully responsible for the children education. Thus, to understand the original sense of education, it should be necessary to reveal the different meaning of learning process that are rooted in human activities which always doesn’t require legal certificate to proof it. In absence of their husband, women are able to becoming self-reliance by sending their children in good school with the help of family member and through their own effort and consciousness. Thus, transnational approach to migration provides a ground to establish the link between informal and formal learning practices. The self-decision making power of women was increased once they enrolling in different types of grassroots activities that inspires them to provide better education to their children. Additionally, I borrow the concept of Peggy Levitt i.e. social remittance to show how migrants are transforming their ideas and practices along with money to home country by remaining themselves in host country. During this process, the migrants themselves are learning new skills and knowledge’s to operate new tools and technology that later on make them to do their own business in home country once they return. I have also drawn some of the conceptual framework from the work of Perrie Bourdieu (1986). Bourdieu’s theory of capital formation can be used to establish the link between migration and different forms of capital and to analyze the impacts of migration on women and children left behind. Once migrants enter in transnational space, then he/she started to sell their physical labor with their skills and knowledge’s and in return they are remitting money back to home country. These economic capitals are later on transform in social and cultural capital when their families are engaged in different types of formal and informal socialization process by going to school, by participating in different community based organization. Not only this, but the money send by migrants can be used in different credit association program by their family and through which their power and prestige increased in society.

1.2. Study Locale

This paper is based on the study conducted in one Village Development Committees (VDCs), namely, Pothiyahi, in south-eastern part of Rautahat district of Central Region of Nepal. Its elevation ranges from 122 to 244 meters above sea level. The topography of the district is mostly plains (92%) in the south and hilly terrain in the north. The district comprises 96 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and one municipality with its District Headquarters (HQ) in Gaur, located in the southern part of the district near to the Nepal-India border. Gaur is connected by blacktop road to Chandranigahapur (42 km), and from there to the East West Highway (26 km). All the VDCs in Rautahat are connected with road networks, but those VDCs without access to blacktop roads are not accessible during the monsoon season (June to September) as the village roads become water-logged and hinder normal transportation. In total, 686,722 people made up the population of Rautahat district in 2011, 49% of whom women (CBS, 2011). While 43% of men were literate in Rautahat in 2001, only 22% of women could read and write (CBS, 2001). A decade later, Rautahat has the lowest literacy rate (42%) of all districts in Nepal; half of boys and men over four years old are literate, compared to only a third of girls and women. Among those aged 20 and older, 18% of men and 10% of women completed basic education, and 9% of men and only 4% of women attained School Leaving Certificate (CBS, 2011). In 2011, 9331 people were absent abroad from Rautahat, only 4% of them female. The majority of these male absentees likely cross the border into India; only 7557 people in total from Rautahat migrated via airport between 2003 and 2009 (DoFE, 2011).

1.3. Sample of the Study

I have chosen only the migrants wife as key-informant, their children and parents as respondents of study. For this, first I had visited the village development committee (VDCs) office to know the migrants number and place of their movement. I came to know about 800 men are in Gulf country, Malaysia whereas almost 1000 are in India. I had participated in different activities organized by VDC and visit the migrant family to know the reasons behind their movement. The interaction with different member of community, migrant’s family and VDC chairperson helps me for choosing the respondents on the basis of their age, economic, and educational status. Afterward, I started selecting of respondents on the basis of their educational status, age group, age at marriage, duration of migrant movement, and economical condition. I had made in-depth interview with 45 house-wives (18 to 32 yr.) and 20 children (6 to 13 yr.) who have stay behind. I had also interviewed with 4 those people who had returned back to village after 2 to 3 year of stay in Malaysia. I had made an informal conversation with respondent family member (children, sister-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, and close relatives) and neighbors. In addition to this I had visited a VDC office to meet with chairperson as well as a manpower agency located at Shivnagar bazaar (the nearest market of Pothiyahi VDC) in order to get more information about the type and category of migrants and the choices of place of movement.

1.4. Nature and Sources of Data

To know the education condition of children and women staying behind during the process of migration, I have collected both primary and secondary sources of data. In the process of field study, the subjective perception and opinion about socio-cultural status and economic conditions of the migrant’s family especially women and children was collected as major sources of primary data. Also I have collected the information regarding the enrollment of women in outside activities beside their household’s activities after their husband movement. However based on the previous publication books, articles, journals and reports published by different scholars and organization, I am successes to compare and trace out the uses of different form of remittance send by migrant’s. The nature of the data was qualitative. The nature of data was based on educational status, economic condition, changes in roles and responsibilities of women before and after husband movement and so on which helps in illustrating the impacts of remittance on both formal and informal education system. Then, the respondents income, caste, family type, number of children and so on was recorded, which provides the overall picture of nature and type of respondents belonging. Thus, the aims of data collection are to examine the education situation i.e. both formal as well informal learning practice of children and women after the process of migration. For this, I have recorded the information about education, economic condition, decision making power, and personal relationship. For instance, the education of children gives information about the use of economic remittance in education sector and also it shows the impacts of social remittance in creating awareness regarding the ideas, perceptions and knowledge of women staying behind. Similarly, I had studied the economic conditions of the respondents to show the enrollment of child in either in private or public school, the involvement of women in different types of skills generating program that ensures the sustainable use of remittance send by migrants and so on. The information regarding the decisions making power of women was used to know their level of participation in community program which helps me in providing the information about socio-cultural position possess by women in their own family as well as in society.

2. Methodology

Qualitative data have been collected to fulfill the objective of this study. Qualitative data have been collected through the participant observation, key-informant interviews, and timeline interviews. After building good rapport with informants and their family, I spent most of the time in the respondent’s house and those places where they mostly gather such as in tap, ponds, farm, and public meetings. I had participate in respondents daily activities such as cooking, washing, harvesting, public affairs etc. to observe how they interacts with different people and how they serve their family in absence of their husband. Additionally, I had also observed the village life to look forward in the festive events organized around the village and participate in particular type of cultural and religious ceremony celebrated during my stay in the village. The reason behind observing such ceremony was to note down the degree of respondents participation in public spaces in absence of their husband. For instance, Angrosino and Perez (2003) have noted that the basis of social interaction is to participate in social setting actively rather than react passively to gain the in-depth information [15] . And during the period of observation and informal conversation, I came to know the roles and responsibilities of the informants. I found that most of the informants were tied up only with household’s activities such as cooking and serving food, washing clothes, and take care of children but only inside the house. Whereas in some especial cases where their mother-in-law was not living with them or no anymore, the informants had also to perform outside activities such as farming, giving education, and participate in different public activities. The role of mother-in-law was crucial and very important in the life of key-informants because she was one who makes essential decisions in the respondent’s life in absence of their husband. For instance, mother-in-law makes decision about the eating, dressing pattern of respondent’s, visits to her natal family, regarding the use of remittance sent by migrants and so on. Through informal conversation and observation, I found a case very interesting that show how mother-in-law play vital role in the life of key-informants. Rita 23 year lady with four year daughter living in joint family where her mother-in-law make decision regarding the schooling of her child and Rita has no any kind objection. Though, Rita like to send her 3 year daughter to school but her mother-in-law doesn’t let her to do so as she believe that her granddaughter is too small for schooling. But at the same time her mother-in-law sends her daughter son (5 year) to the school as he is living with them. This case show how a mother-in-law make the decision regarding every matter of respondent life as well as how they control over the remittance send by migrants.

I had also interviewed with school teachers and principal, village chairperson, and old persons in the village. The reason behind such an interview lies to note down the cause of migration and the uses of remittances in their daily life. For this, I have conducted timeline interview (Adriansen 2012) method to capture the history of migration and education of the informant family. Adriansen (2012) explained that timeline interview as a tool in providing visual representation of main events in a person’s life within contexts of wider life experience [16] . For instance, I had noted down migration history of migrants family, their economic condition before and after migration, educational history of both migrants and their family. This gives an understanding of how and why migrants inspire to leave their family particularly wife and decide for doing migration, why they choose a particular place for migration, what are the way of choosing an schooling for their children, what are the factors that play an important role in the decision making process after the movement of their husband, and how the surrounding environment impact on this decision (family, friends or even husband).

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Role of Social Remittance in Leaning Process

Levitt and Lamba-Nieves (2011) confers that, migrants are not transferring economy but also carry ideas, practices, and behavior back to their sending countries either by themselves or through different means of communication [5] . Thus, both social and economic remittance transfer from abroad play a vital role in the life of those who left during migration process and their effect is seen different aspects of their daily life for example: eating pattern, dressing habit, education, way of celebrating feast and festivals, way of organizing marriage ceremony and so on.

Migrants are particularly transferring two types of remittance i.e. economic and social remittance to their families left behind. Both social and economic remittance play dominant role in the learning process of an individual, especially the wife and children. “Social remittances are ideas, practices, minds set, world views, values and attitudes, norms of behavior and social capital (knowledge, experience and expertise) that the diaspora mediate and transfer from host to home countries” [17] . The people left engaged in lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating of the norms, customs and ideologies remit by the migrants that enhance their skills and habits. Thus, socialization is a process of learning the culture that has influence on the behavior, beliefs and actions of the individual left behind.

The study done by Galvan (2015) among Sierra Linda’s in rural communities confers about the changes seen in women life that stays behind during the process of migration. Galvan argue that the movement of their husband introduces new ideas, capital, bodies and information and alters the roles and perspectives of women who stay behind as they are expected to perform both duties of home and communities [13] . Further she discuss the fact these women were like “in-between” space of struggle and transformation as they are challenging the family and community nature while finding a new way of survival.

Their social relationships and their varying and multiple identities are generated from their simultaneous positioning in several social locations both to accommodate to and to resist the difficult circumstances and the dominant ideologies they encounter in their transnational fields [13] .

Thus, the women who stay behind had started to cope with both economic as well emotional problems by learning different types of informal income generating skills. On one way they are receiving economic capital from their husband, whereas on other hand through the use of economic remittance they are sending their children in private school for better education. After the movement of their husband, the lives of women left behind changed as they had to expand their role from motherhood to out of the house. As these women had to provide better education to their children with a faith that their children become doctors and layers, and manage the remittance sent by migrants to look after their family interest. The following case study of Kanchan provides an evidence to show how remittance contributes in achieving both formal as well as informal education.

My marriage was organized by my parents at the age of twenty. My husband was living with his parents but after some months of our marriage, we started to living separate from them. We decided for his movement to Qatar due to economic burden seen in house and pressure of providing education to our children. Before his movement, I only used to do the households activities such as cooking, washing and take care of the children. All the necessary stuffs for us were provided by him in the house so, I occasionally went to market. But soon after his movement, I had to do all inside and outside works, and take care of the children. I used to manage all the farm activities by hiring labor from the money sent by my husband, and brought the necessary stuffs for me and my children. I manage to send the children to school. After they went to school, I was almost free all the day. So, I asked my husband on telephone to join stitching training and beauty parlor in free time and finally he allowed me to go. Now, I am thinking that I will open my own shop for stitching and parlor when my husband will come back. (KanchanJaiswal, 28).

Kanchan is very energetic women whom I see always busy in doing something in her free time after sending her two children to school. She deals very politely with the labor working in farm and only after negotiating with rate she pay their wage. Not, only this but she went to school of her children and pay tuition fee and attend the parents meeting. Beside this, she herself engaged in doing stitching and parlor course in her free time. The above case also helps in discussion of how informal learning takes place in life of women left behind during the migration process. As the women are engaged in doing handicraft, embroidery, running parlor in their own house, and on the top of this all they are also participating in income generation program. Thus, migration provides an opportunities in both movers and non-movers life. On one hand, migrant are sending money back to their family and on other hand, their wives are engaged in doing different types of informal works in their free time. With the help of their in-laws or by themselves, some of the women are engaged in income generating activities such as making handicraft from straw, stitching, embroidery, running parlor, and supplying milk. Whereas most of other women are still living inside the house and doing households chores where they spend their time by cooking, washing clothes, fetching water, watching television, and chatting with the other ladies present in home. Thus, migration proved as interesting perspectives on looking at how habitus of girls socialized in patriarchal society changes when she went to her husband home. In absence of their husband, these girls have to deal with their in-laws and neighbor and have to do households activities and farm activities. However, before marriage these girls had rarely got chance to come outside of the home except going to school of the house and speak with men but after marriage if their husband went to abroad they have to perform the activities either by themselves or in coordination with their in-laws. However, the newly married women of migrants’ wife living in the house of their parent-in-laws may have an especially weak position in the household [10] . The movement of her husband provides a space to interact with the everyday situation in an organized way that enables their problem-solving capacity. Pujani Devi, twenty seven years old, migrant wife living in joint family explain as follows:

I am living in joint family with my three children. My husband has been working in Malaysia from last two years. My husband doesn’t like me to go outside from home, when he was here. But soon after his movement my mother-in-law asked me to come outside of the house with her in farm. That was the first moment in my life when I went to farm. Due to poor economic condition, my in-laws asked me work in farm however, here also I can’t do freely as my mother-in-laws eyes are always following at me. She doesn’t allow me to talk with anybody and wants to go back home without wandering on the way. I manage all the households and farm activities along with caring of my three children properly. By granting permission from my husband and then from mother-in-law, I had become a member of Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF) program from which I got some money to invest. And I had buy one cow and three goats and now my father-in-law has started to supply the milk of cow in market and get money. Sometime, I feel very auspicious in front of other women as I had got opportunities to come out of house and got chance to do something as many of the women still didn’t get permit to do so (Pujani Devi, 27 years).

Pujani Devi was living with her in-laws after the movement of her husband so, she has to do everything in accordance with her mother-in-laws. Due to the poor economic condition of family, she comes out of house though her small child was very young. On one hand, she got chance to encounter with the outside world and empower herself by engaging in different community run program. On the other hand she has over burden of work and worried about the upbringing of her younger daughter. Though, migration has opened the door of new roles and opportunities for the women left behind but still they are in control and observed by their husband and in-laws especially, the mother- in-law who restrict their independence and authority over household affairs. For instance, during telephone communication migrant men would often instruct women on matters such as: how to behave and deal with their parents in their absence, where to invest remittance monies, and in back these women would inform men on household-related activities. Rita Yadav, a twenty two years migrant wife reported as follows:

I am living in extended family with my two children. My husband has migrated to Saudi-Arab four years ago and every month he is sending money to his father. But I do not have any idea about the investment of remittance money? The good thing for me is that, I asked my father-in-law to purchase a stitching machine for me and he did. After granting permission from my husband and mother-in-laws, I started making clothes for girls and children. I started to earn some money and now every month I deposit some Rs. 1000 (about DK. 65) in cooperative run by women group in village. At the same time, I am doing my entire households chore such as prepare food, washing the clothes, fetching water and take care of the children as (Rita Yadav, 22).

Thus, male migration affects the lives of women remaining at home as the workload of these women increases from households work to look after children and participate in agricultural activities which ultimately increased the decision making process of women in education of children, burial ceremonies and in village development [10] . Transmigration transformed the community dynamics and social relation by increasing the roles and responsibilities of women in both home and grassroots organization, through which these women learn to survive economic and emotional limitation. All these help in creation of new identities, association, and space of self-esteem and self- empowered in future from where a new form of habitus will be developed. The direct effect of this was seen in upbringing and education of their children. As Bourdieu states that, habitus is structured by one’s past and present circumstances (such as family upbringing and educational experiences) and helps to shape one’s present and future practices [18] . Thus, ongoing changing process of women’s habitus in patriarchal society that they brought from their childhood socialization (such as how to act, feel, talk, behave in their husband house and so on) is all results of their way of being acting and thinking in absence of their husband.

3.2. Role of Economic Remittance in Learning Process

The most obvious form of enduring transnational migration is sending economic remittances back to their family members. Migrants send remittance back to the family as a form of social assurance (Bryceson and Vuorela 2002; cited in Levitt and Lamba 2011). Further the significance of such remittance income is very important in providing the basic needs such as: food and clothes, paying tuition fee, paying dowry in girl’s marriage. In Nepal, the remittance money is mostly invested in physical capital like a new house or a motorcycle, for another migration, or in the education of a child [10] . A Rita Yadav, a twenty two years migrant wife reported as follows:

In every month, my husband is sending Rs. 25,000 (about 3000 dkk) every month to his father for the household’s consumption and paying the tuition fee for my son. As my son is 5 years so, he went to boarding school in nursery however my daughter is too small to go school. As my husband is elder son in his family so, he has responsibilities for marrying his younger sister (Kabita) who is now 16 years old and providing education to his elder brother (Ravi) who is 11 years old. So, my father-in-law has saved some Rs.1.5 lakh (about 15,550 dkk) for the marriage of Kabita. My husband and parent-in-laws are always worried about organizing Kabita marriage as they have to find rich family for Kabita marriage. In our culture, it is necessary to pay lots of cash (about Rs. 2 to 3 lakh) including television, motorcycle, jewelry, and furniture. (Rita Yadav, 22).

Rita is living with her parents-in-laws, one sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws and along with her two children. The responsibilities of the family were on her husband head as his father has work in farm but which is subsistence based. So, every month Rita husband send money back to his father. Thus, when economic capital is send back to the village by migrants, it becomes convertible to other forms of capital. A common use of remitted funds is the education of children, siblings or other relatives. In this way, economic capital is converted into cultural capital, which forms an investment in the sense that such cultural capital will, in the future, itself yield economic capital [7] . According to Kanchan Jaiswal who is 28 years old:

My husband has been working in Quatar and he is sending about 2800 to 3000 Riyal every month for the household purpose and especially for paying tution fee for our son and daughter. We both have decided to send our children in boarding school so, that they can get as more education that makes them an engineer and teacher in future. So, most of the money are used for paying tuition fees at school and home tuition as I hired a private teacher to solve their school work at home. From the money send by my husband, I used to put about Rs. 1500 (about 160 dkk) in cooperative in the name of my daughter (Palchin). Though, she is nine years old now but after some 10 or 12 years we have to organize her marriage so, I had started to save in her name. Nevertheless, we are providing education to her but due to system of high demand of dowry in our culture every parents like us are worried about their daughter marriage (Mrs. Kanchan Jaiswal, 28).

Kanchan is living in nuclear family with her two children and her husband has been migrated to Qatar before seven years age. Her desire is to see her son being an engineer and daughter as a teacher. So, both she and her husband have decided to send their children to boarding school for a quality of education. In Nepal, parents are sending their children to private school i.e. English medium school to give them as much chance as possible of getting a job or going for further study [19] . On other hand, though Palchin is 9 years old Kanchan has started saving some money for her marriage purpose. Kanchan is aware that though her daughter get education and will complete school level education but she has to pay high dowry during the marriage ceremony as they have to find more educated groom than that of Palchin. In a village like Pothiyahi of Terai region of Nepal, there is a culture of high paying of dowry if a girls is more educated and if girls are less educated then, the less demands of dowry come from the groom side. But if parents of bride are unable to pay the demand of groom parents then, the whole life the bride has to face problem in their husband house. If a girl is married at a tender age, a small amount of dowry will work, but if the girl is educated and qualified, she needs an equal amount of dowry to get a bridegroom of the same status (Karki, 2014). She further noted that, the bride parents have to fulfill the demand of groom in form of cash, motorbike, jewelries, etc. and when their demand are not fulfilled innocent women are mentally, physically tortured and even killed by their in- laws. Whereas on other hand, Kanchan herself is finding lucky as she has one son and when her son become engineer then she can demand for more dowries from the bride family side. “The ability to keep children in school and, in particular, the ability to send them to prestigious schools or colleges, also constitutes an important conversion of economic capital into social capital as parents develop new networks among a higher status section of society, and children develop friendships, social ties, and alumni networks with a similarly elevated cohort” (Kelly and Lusis, 2006) [20] . When the boys get education from boarding school, the probability of getting paid job will be increased in future, which will automatically assure the demanding of high dowry during marriage. Thus, sending their children especially, the boys in the boarding school admired the parents socially in front of other members in community as they will provide with both name and fame to their parents. The reasons behind the hindrance of girls proper education are that, the girls are transformed to their affiance households after marriage and parents do not have any right to claim on their work or income (Mittra and Kumar, 2004). Migration becomes one of the best ways of collecting the money for the marriage ceremony and providing education to the children especially for the boys.

Sashi Yadav, a twenty four year old migrant wife, further described:

As my husband is elder in house so, he has responsibilities of his one younger unmarried sister and brother along with our two children. All the responsibilities of giving education, providing clothes, food, and so on are taken by my husband as my father-in-law only worked for 5 to 6 months in brick factory. So, his income is not sufficient for providing all the basic needs and for organizing the marriage of my sister-in-law as she is 13 years old. So, my husband went Saudi-Arab before three years and send money in every three month. From last year, my son and brother-in-law has started to going boarding school as my daughter is still two year so, she stay at home. My father-in-law has brought one acre land (farming land) and he has also saved some money in Bank for marriage of my sister-in-law.

Sashi is awake that her father-in-law used the remittance in fruitful way to solve their economic problem and provide education to their children in absence of her husband. On one hand, as Sashi is living with her parent-in-law she doesn’t have chance to interfere in decision making process of uses over remittance. On other hand, she is believe that her father-in-law will buy more farming land so her husband will do some market oriented agriculture after some year of his permanent return. Migrants are maintaining double bond of economic responsibilities as they have to look after their own family along with old parents and unmarried siblings. Thus, the migrants are living with pressure of moral obligation to look after their parents in old age and to look after their children and wife to continue their own family. Thus, migrants are remitting money back to their family to fulfill their moral obligation and secure their own future after return. By remitting money to the family back in Nepal, on one hand migrants keep good relations with their family whereas on other hand, they prevent their parents from selling their land that they will inherit from their parents in future [6] .

4. Conclusions

Transnational labor migration has tremendous importance in learning process of children and women left behind during the migration process. On one hand, both children and women depend on remittance income for their livelihood whereas on other hand, they had got opportunities to encounters with formal and informal learning practices in their life. Education means raising knowledge or brings internal potentialities and abilities of learners. Nevertheless, the meaning of education is not confined with formal learning practices that take place in school as people can acquire education everywhere, in every moment of life without the bound of age. They can get education from every source such as schools, parents, society, colleagues, from everyday life practices and so forth. Thus, to understand the meaning of education, it is necessary to move beyond the school itself as education doesn’t only refer to standardized, institutionalized forms of education but also to other educative processes and formative experiences that are also linked with an individual life course [21] .

Moreover, migration has both economic and social impacts on the lives of those who left behind as I have already mentioned that remittances are not only in the form of money but also they have wider meaning as remittance also constitutes ideas, knowledge, norms, values and so forth that transmit during migration process. Particularly, male migration has a consequent impacts on income growth of family, and social and cultural practices. For example, before marriage the girls were socialized in four wall of closed home with limited access to education, and less chance of moving outside of house. But after marriage if their husband were migrant, then they have probability of getting informal training and moving outside of the house where they got chance of interaction with many people. Similarly, migration brings change in the family relation in a situation of the commonly prevailed nuclear family; particularly the changing status of migrant’s wives in terms of social relationships and role within and outside the households. In Nepal, the women as heads-of-household perceive well-being differently from women living with in-laws as women living with in-laws have less autonomy, social status, and self-esteem as compared to other women living independently. Thus, the overall impacts of male migration on the family members, especially on children and women’s socialization process depends on the ability to intake formal and informal learning practices by utilizing the remittance send by migrants back. Though, the amount of remittance send by migrants are controlled and decided by key-informants parents-in-law but the indirectly its impacts are shown on migrants wife and children. The children are enrolled in school and the wives are involved in some informal type of learning practices such as: stitching, embroidery, making handicraft, beauty parlor, and so forth and engaged in income generation program from their own level. The ideas, behaviors, and the social capital send by migrant back to their home country create a global culture at the local level that help individuals embedded in a particular set of identities and practices to imagine a new cartography (Appadurai, 1990), encouraging them to try on new gender, roles, experiment with new ideas about politics, and adopt new organizing strategies [22] .


I am very much indebted to Professor Karen Valentin, Aarhus University, Denmark to her valuable suggestions, advices and help throughout the research period. I also like to thank Prof. Madhusudan Subedi, Patan Academy of Health Scienceand Programme and Communication Coordinator Ms. Lene Christina Mosegaard, Programme of Danida Fellowship Centre (DFC) for their moral support in my life. I also like to thank all my respondents who have helped during field study for providing invaluable information. My sincere gratitude goes to my husband, Shreedhar Pokhrel, and our daughter Shreya Chaudhary Pokhrel; whose love, confidence and understanding has strengthen to write me this paper.

Cite this paper

Chaudhary, A. (2016) Impacts of Transnational Labor Migration on Learning Process: A Case Study of Nepalese Children and Women Staying Behind. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 4, 81-96.


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