Spring in Nepal means the beginning of a new academic year. The 2014-15 session began in mid April, and we have focused our attention on implementing our health and sanitation program as well as providing classroom materials.
These efforts entail setting up pipes to deliver safe drinking water and provide water for toilets, as well as replacing chalkboards with dry and erase boards and markers. In addition to eliminating chalk dust, the new boards are an important classroom resource and status symbol for public schools in rural areas competing with private schools nearby.
Schools typically face two problems when it comes to water access: they may only have it during the morning and evening, when school is closed, and the taps are usually installed at a height appropriate for adults. To solve these problems, we provide collection tanks and install child-friendly taps.
Over the past three months in central Nepal the Santi School Project has:
Health and Sanitation Program
We’ve worked with the following schools in recent months:
Bal Manorama Lower Secondary School, in Ashrang village development committee (VDC) of Lalitpur district
Bal Jyoti Lower Secondary School, Nanglebhare VDC, Kathmandu district
Gumrang Lower Secondary School, Thula Durlung VDC, Lalitpur district
Guru Lower Secondary School, Bukhel VDC, Lalitpur district
Banaspati Primary School, Chaughare VDC, Lalitpur district
Kankali Primary School, Makwanpur district
These projects have been completed with support by donors like you and organizations such as Avionte Software and Rising Tide, which are both based in the United States and have operations in Nepal.
Two More Projects Under Way:
In Nawalpur VDC, Sindhupalchowk district, 70 kilometers from Kathmandu, we are helping two schools, Nawalpur Secondary School and Siddhartha Primary School, implement our health and sanitation program.
At Nawalpur School, we’re installing a water system, including toilets. We’re also fixing shutters on doors and windows for four rooms of the building.
We’re also setting up a water system at Siddhartha School, where we’ve already delivered dry erase boards and markers to replace chalkboards in classes from nursery to grade 5.
Both of these projects are expected to be completed by mid June. We are implementing the projects through donations raised by Adam Martin of Chicago, who visited Nawalpur during the winter of 2013, wanted to help, and asked his friends to support these projects.
Last November was a busy time in Nepal. In the first part of the month, we celebrated some major festivals and holidays. Then, for three consecutive days, there was hardly any traffic on the streets of Kathmandu as the normal pace of life came to a standstill for national elections for the constituent assembly.
We got back to work in earnest in late November. Here’s what’s been happening on the ground in Nepal:
Building New Classrooms
We have started work on two rooms at Bani Bilash Higher Secondary School, Chapagaun Village Development Committee (VDC), in Lalitpur district. The total estimated cost of the project is NRs.946,000 (around $9,500); Santi School has provided roughly $7,100 and the school is contributing the rest. The project is expected to be completed by mid-April 2014. The school has 26 teachers serving more than 560 students from nursery to grade 12.
Starting Health and Sanitation Projects
We have launched health and sanitation projects at two schools. We’re setting up a drinking water system at Bal Manorama Lower Secondary School, Ashrang, in Lalitpur district, and also installing white boards at the school, replacing black boards and chalk. The cost of the project is NRs.63,000 (around $630) with the school contributing 25% of the cost. The project is expected to be completed by mid-March 2014. The school has 10 teachers serving more than 260 students studying from nursery to grade eight.
We’re also installing a drinking water system at Bal Jyoti Lower Secondary School, Nanglebhare VDC, in Kathmandu district. The expected cost of the project is NRs.47,850 (around $500) with Santi School contributing 75 percent of the cost. The school has 12 teachers serving more than 250 students from nursery to grade eight.
These health and sanitation projects are supported by a donation from Rising Tide in the United States.
Inaugurating Completed Buildings
We handed over two new school buildings to their respective school management committees during inauguration ceremonies last November.
One was a two-room building at Bagh Bhairab Secondary School, Chaughare VDC, in Lalitpur district. The school, which serves more than 250 students from nursery to grade 10, needed a new building because overcrowding had forced it to conduct some classes in partitioned rooms. The total cost of construction was NRs.670,000 (around $8,000).
The second project was a three-room building for Thakursthan Lower Secondary School, Budhakhani VDC, in Kavrepalanchowk district. The school has eight teachers serving more than 160 students in a remote area. The total cost of the project was 645,242 (around US$8,000).
For both these projects, Santi School contributed 75% of the total cost and the local community provided the rest.
Teacher Training Continues
We brought our teacher training to a new center at Saraswoti Higher Secondary School, Lele VDC, in Lalitpur district in October, and then conducted a session at Jana Jagriti Higher Secondary School, Ikudole VDC, in the same district. The second phase of this training got under way in mid-February 2014.
We’re making a documentary, thanks to our partner group, Positive Exposures, which selected Santi School from a field of more than 300 charity groups last year, and will provide us with video and still photos. Their expertise is a real blessing, since we don't the capacity to do this on our own.
At the end of last year, photographer Dawn Deeks from Positive Exposures spent five weeks filming at our schools in Nepal. She was accompanied by Santi School founder Chris Heun and Robert Gruber, one of our board members. Together, they visited several of our project sites.
Thank you for your support
What We've Been Up to This Fall
This time of the year in Nepal, because of the monsoon season and some major holidays, we turn our focus to documentation, planning and fundraising. Work on the ground will begin to pick up in the next few weeks.
New Classrooms Built for 200 Students
However, recently we did wrap one last construction project from the summer. On September 24, we unveiled a new two-room building at Guru Lower Secondary School, which serves more than 200 students from kindergarten to grade 8. Overcrowding, a familiar problem in Nepal, had forced teachers to partition existing rooms and conduct multiple classes in those spaces. The school spent more than $4,600 to complete the building; 75% of the funding was provided by Santi School.
New Teacher Training Sessions Have Begun
We plan to complete teacher training in 2013 at two centers for more than 50 teachers from around 15 schools. Following our success in 2012, the training consists of two components: early childhood development and teaching in English. We have completed the early childhood development component of the training at one center. Training sessions will resume later this month, after nationwide elections for the constituent assembly.
Placing Nepali Volunteers in our Schools
After placing four Nepali volunteers during the summer, as part of our Santi Education Fellows program, we're excited to have Ankita Budhathoki at Shringery Secondary School, in Lamatar of Lalitpur district, in November and early December. Santi Education Fellows is a separate, Nepali-only volunteer program in addition to our foreign volunteers.
Annual Audit Completed
The annual third-party audit of our income and expenses in Nepal has been completed and submitted to the required government agencies. We have also published the document online here.
Developing a Plan for 2014
Our staff in Nepal recently elected a seven-member executive committee for the next two years and approved an action plan, along with a tentative budget, for the fiscal year 2013-14.
As always, thank you for your support!