There is nothing quite like the sound of primary school children playing outside at break time, or fully participating in a classroom lesson. In our 10 years of working to develop the education system in Nepal these are sounds that were rarely heard by us in any government school in Kathmandu, the capital city. Classrooms are often silent except for the droning of a teacher in full lecturing mode as she reads the latest passage from a textbook. Nursery children sit on the floor utterly baffled over what do do with wooden bricks, plastic puzzles or mechanical toys donated by well meaning western visitors. The teacher has no idea what to do with them either! This is the reality of Nepal’s crumbling education system, lorded over by arrogant, ignorant and incompetent bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education.
Our decision to fund the building of a new school for the children of Motibinayak on the edge of Lalitpur district was a difficult one, flying in the face of our “build teachers not schools” ethos we had implemented for 10 years; but the time had clearly come to create a “model school” that would be run by a Principal and teachers we had trained two years earlier, a school that would pointedly show Nepal’s Ministry of Education how things should be done.
The new school and part refurbishment of the old school has 8 classrooms with furniture and fittings for child centred learning, a teachers training room, a staff room, and a principals office. It has boys and girls toilets and a clean drinking water supply. There is NO other government school like it in all Nepal, and has been provided by our charity, Nepal Schools Aid(UK).
The school was formally opened on 11th November 2017 and we were represented by Dr Madan Tuladhar our Operations Director in Nepal, Babita Shrestha the Chairperson of our NGO, and Ladipma Kirati our Education Consultant who designed the classrooms and retrained the teachers. The Mayor of Lalitpur, Chiri Babu Maharjan, was the chief guest, an honest and hard working man who we have known for 10 years from when he was chairman of the School Management Committee at Bal Bigyan school. Then there were parents, local business people, plus the usual “hangers on” from the Ministry and Department of Education also as usual wanting to be photographed at “their” new school!
These formal occasions are quite long in Nepal, singing and dancing by children in national dress, speeches by all and sundry, presentations of flower garlands to honoured guests, and recognition of various contributions to the school. The Principal, Laxmi Maharjan was most generous of her praise for us and even placed a garlanded photograph of us on a chair as we couldn’t attend. In our place Dr Madan spoke about the financing of the school and making the building earthquake-proof at a cost of £100,000 to us; Ladipma spoke about her coaching work with the teachers and the design of classrooms; and Babita reminded the audience that our mission had been to “Build teachers not schools” for 10 years, that it was the teachers who ensured quality NOT a new building, and, rather bravely, that the Ministry has failed in its duty to develop the quality of education over the past 10 years.
The school is well equipped and has a completely western look and feel to it, certainly not typical of Nepali schools where children sit in lines and on cast iron and wooden desks/chairs. The walls are usually crumbling concrete too with cement cold floors, no cupboards or shelves with books or resources, ancient blackboards, and children looking completely miserable. Who can blame them …….. but now take a look at our new “Motibinayak School of Quality Education” …….
The Closure of Nepal Schools Aid
The completion of this school was our second last act in Nepal’s desert of education, a gift to the children and parents of this very very poor district on the edge of Kathmandu. Children here often miss school to work in the fields at harvest time, or to care for younger siblings, sometimes bringing them to school strapped to their sides or backs. You cannot blame parents for this, even on theoretical models of human motivation “survival” comes a long way ahead of “education or self actualisation”, and in a practical sense a sack of rice is worth more than an exam pass. Our final gift is a Trust Fund of our remaining money, managed by our trusted friends in Nepal, that will provide exercise books annually for every child in school, a games and party day annually, and a Parent of the Year award annually too. Without interest the fund will last for 7 years. When this is formally set up in a few days time, Nepal Schools Aid ends its 10 year crusade to persuade and help the Ministry of Education raise the standard of the Primary Education System ……… and closes.
Articles and Research Papers
For those of you interested in some of our work in Nepal over 10 years you may find some of the following links interesting. These include research papers, specific stories or projects, and a complete online learning programme on how to develop an entire education system in a third world country.
Online Learning Programme
Nepal Education Articles and Critique