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!
The Santi School Project has been busy this summer in Nepal. We recently completed two new school buildings, will soon finish another, and have placed four more Shanti Education Fellows at different rural schools.
First, our construction projects:
Project #1: Bagh Bhairab Secondary School in Chaughare, in Lalitpur district, 40 kilometers away from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
Originally built in 1960, the school has 14 staff and more than 250 students to grade 10. The school conducts its classes and administrative activities in 10 rooms. Since at least 12 rooms are required for its basic operations, it has partitioned its classrooms into smaller rooms to provide a room to each grade.
To provide additional classrooms, the District Education Office, Lalitpur, awarded a partial grant to complete the construction of a four-room building. With the assistance of the District Development Office, Lalitpur, and the Village Development Office, Chaughare, it completed the construction of two rooms and completed the frame for two more rooms. The school asked us to complete these two rooms so that classes can be conducted in those rooms.
Work was completed on August 7, 2013. The school management committee contributed 25 percent of the estimated cost of about NRs. 670,000 ($8,000).
Project #2: Guru Lower Secondary School, in Bukhel, Lalitpur district, about 40 kilometers away from Lalitpur ring road, Satdobato.
Built in 1980, the school has 13 staff and more than 200 students up to grade 8. The school conducts nine different classes in two buildings with just seven classrooms.
To address this, the Bukhel village development committee had provided assistance to the school to construct a two room concrete building. As the funds available was not sufficient to complete the building, the school could only finish up the frame for the building and classes could not be conducted in the building.
Work is expected to be completed by mid August. The estimated cost of this project is around NRs. 400,000 ($4,600).
Project #3: Thakursthan Lower Secondary School, in Budhakhani, Kaverepalanchowk district, about 75 kilometers away from Kathmandu, and an hour walking distance from a nearby gravel road.
The school has eight teachers and staff serving more than 160 students up to grade 7. It was established in 1996.
The school plans to upgrade to grade 8 in the upcoming year. It has received a partial grant from the District Education Office, Kavrepalanchowk, to complete a two-room building. However, considering the future need, the school is planning to add a room to the building. With the lack of financial resources, the school could not complete even the two-room building.
We helped the school complete the two-room building and add a third room to it. We also helped the school set up a drinking water system. Work was completed in July.
Shanti Education Fellows
We have placed four volunteers, Anjeela Budha Magar, Ashik Gurung, Chandan Mishra, and Pranav Man Shrestha from Nepal, at Vishwamitra Secondary School in Lubhu; Sisnery Secondary School, Shringery Secondary School, and Bashuki Secondary School of Lamatar, in Lalitpur, respectively. They will stay at their school for a month.
Shanti Education Fellows is an innovative program for Nepal, which lacks a strong tradition of volunteerism, encourages young high school graduates from an urban background to serve at our schools in the countryside.