Better Schools in Rural Nepal!

 
$5,437
$14,563
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Remaining
School damaged by a SMALL earthquake in January
School damaged by a SMALL earthquake in January

Today's report is about the terrible earthquake that struck Nepal on 24 April 2015. You all will have seen and heard about it on the news. The devastation is unfathomable at this early stage, and we will surely not know about the full extent of the damage until many weeks or months have passed.

As you know, ETC works with school personnel and village residents in rural Nepal to make necessary improvements to schools. In the aftermath of the quake, the need will be much greater than ever. We hope that you will consider making a special gift to our Better Schools in Rural Nepal project to help in the rebuilding and reopening of Dolakha's schools.

The photo included with this report is a still frame from a video clip that I shot in February. This school building had been damaged by a much smaller quake in January. We can only imagine how bad the damage from the 24 April quake will be.

Thank you, as always, for your support - both of our regular work (to which we remain fully committed!) and to the relief and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake of 24 April.

A student at Deurali Primary School
A student at Deurali Primary School

Happy 2015! Welcome to your quarterly update on Educate the Children's work to improve schools in rural Nepal.

As you probably remember, ETC started working with a new set of schools beginning in mid-2014. These 31 schools range from primary (grades pre-K through 5) to higher secondary (up through 12th grade). Although their student body sizes and physical conditions vary, all of them have one thing in common: They all need ETC's help, so that they can be better places for children to learn and grow.

I have just returned from Nepal, where I visited 10 of these schools, talking to the staff and students in their classroom settings. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Not one school has enough furniture or classroom materials. Some classrooms have none at all, other than a broken chalkboard and maybe an uncomfortable bench or two. (see photo below)
  • Some schools have too few toilets for the student body. One school had NO toilets. None. (see story and photo below)
  • Most of the classrooms need wall and floor plastering (they often have hard-packed dirt floors and unsealed walls), and many have structural repair needs such as leaky roofs. One building was damaged by an earthquake a month or so ago, and is now in need of repair.
  • There was no playground equipment other than some volleyball poles and nets, and a few balls etc.

These conditions would be unthinkable for my own child and undoubtedly for yours too, but the fact is that some 3,000 children in ETC's project area are living with them every day. But that does not need to be the case, and with your continued help, it will not be the case. ETC is already working hard to make important improvements:

  • We've made possible wall and/or floor plastering at several schools (this makes the rooms more weatherproof as well as adding a bit of structural support).
  • We've provided classroom materials and appropriately sized furnishings in numerous classrooms.
  • Perhaps most strikingly, we have nearly completed the construction of a three-stall sanitary toilet building at Jalpeswori Primary School. Until now, there has been NO toilet at all at this school, such that the students and staff had to go to the bathroom in a field or behind a tree, which of course is very unsanitary as well as not private. It is costing less than $1,000 in cash to build this new three-stall toilet building, plus community members' contributions of some supplies and the necessary labor. (see photo below)

All of this work takes place in conjunction with school personnel and community members, with whom we set the most important priorities for each school, and who provide some building materials and labor totaling 25% or more of the costs of any construction and/or repair work. This ensures that the communities we are serving feel a real sense of investment in the work being done. 

Of course, we wish we could make major improvements to every single classroom and playground at all 31 of these schools, right away. Unfortunately, that is not possible either financially or in terms of staff time. But over the coming months and years, as we continue to work with these schools, every single one of them will be significantly improved.

School administrators and teachers told me how glad they are to have ETC's support, and how it makes a real difference in the quality of education they are able to provide for their students. On their behalf, and on behalf of everyone at ETC, I thank you for your continued interest in and support of our work.

P.S. If you'd like to watch a short WENY-TV news feature about ETC's purpose and various aspects of our work, you can click on the link below.

ETC is building this toilet at Jalpeswori School
ETC is building this toilet at Jalpeswori School
A typical classroom
A typical classroom
Kindergarten students in an improved classroom
Kindergarten students in an improved classroom

Links:

Gujarpa Lower Secondary School pre-primary class
Gujarpa Lower Secondary School pre-primary class

In our last report, we explained how ETC had finished up the last bits of school improvement work in schools with which we had been working since 2008. Now that ETC is working in numerous new villages, we have been collaborating with the personnel of 31 schools in those villages to determine the most important and pressing needs for improvement. In this report, we'll highlight two particular schools and their youngest students.

Gujarpa Lower Secondary School is in Lapilang Village Development Committee. Nikobhumi Higher Secondary School is in Babare Village Development Committee. Both have pre-primary classrooms - what we in the United States would refer to as pre-school and kindergarten, for the children who are a year or two younger than the average Grade 1 student. You can see photos of each classroom attached to this report. The teachers of these classes were among the 17 who have participated in our recent professional development activities - including orientation and training in best practices for working with the youngest students, and establishment of a pre-primary teachers' network. Professional development opportunities for educators are rare in rural Nepal, and these teachers are delighted to be benefit from ETC's programs. Their classrooms have also received useful supplies, such as wooden puzzles, alphabet and number blocks, crayons and colored pencils, and paper - all of which will help them offer a more enriching educational experience to their young students. You can see from the photos that there is need for physical improvements, such as wall plastering/painting and the provision of child-sized furniture. These two classrooms will be among the first to receive such improvements, although all 31 schools in our new project area will benefit from some improvement work over the course of the next few years.

These two pre-primary classrooms are among several that individual donors can sponsor. For $1,000 per year, a donor can sponsor a specific pre-primary classroom and receive twice yearly photos of the class, letters from the teacher (and signed by students as they are able), information about the children's activities and about what has been accomplished in terms of physical improvements to the rooms, and perhaps artwork or poems, etc. created by students in the class.

Please note that the observation of major fall holidays (Dashain and Tihar or Deepawali) means that schools were closed for much of the period from late September (which is also the end of the monsoon season) through late October. Now that the groundwork of establishing relationships and setting priorities has been completed, the physical improvement work can begin in earnest. We'll have more details in our next quarterly report. In the meantime, thank you again for your support, and please contact us at director@etc-nepal.org with any questions.

Nikobhumi Higher 2ndary School pre-primary class
Nikobhumi Higher 2ndary School pre-primary class

Links:


Attachments:
Devisthan School - roofing, painting
Devisthan School - roofing, painting

The summer of 2014 marks a transitional period for Educate the Children, as we are phasing out of the villages where we have worked since 2008 and into a new set of villages, farther to the north and higher up in the Himalayan foothills. (I use the word “foothills” somewhat tongue-in-cheek and in a relative sense, since more than two-thirds of the Dolakha District terrain is at or above 2,000 meters/6,400 feet in elevation!)

We could not leave, however, without completing the final school improvements in the old project area. This work will ensure a safer, more comfortable, and more attractive learning environment for thousands of children both immediately and for years to come. Since May, the work we have completed includes: 

  • At Devisthan Lower Secondary School – new roofing, painting, and ground maintenance
  • At Suryodaya Lower Secondary School – painting and new classroom furniture
  • At Kshamawati Higher Secondary School – new classroom furniture
  • At Guranse Primary School – new classroom furniture
  • At Saraswoti Vidya Mandir Primary School – plastering and painting
  • At Mahadesthan Primary School – plastering, painting, and veranda maintenance

You can see the some of the results of this work in the attached photos.

Preparing to begin doing school improvement work in new villages involves working closely with school personnel to identify the greatest and most pressing needs, as well as gathering support from parents and other community members who will be participating in the work by collecting materials and providing labor. Subject to the final decisions made in the coming weeks at a meeting of ETC personnel and all area schools’ headmasters/headmistresses, it is our plan to complete the following work by summer 2015 (some schools may receive more than one kind of assistance):

  • Fifteen schools will have plastering and painting work done
  • Six schools will receive new classroom furniture
  • Five schools will have new toilets built and grounds maintenance work done
  • Five schools will have work done to install or fix doors and windows

In our next quarterly report, we will include some photos of the specific schools in the new villages where we’ll be working during the coming fall, winter, and spring. For now, if you are interested to see typical conditions at public rural schools in this area, you can see some photos on ETC’s website at http://www.etc-nepal.org/photos4.php.

In the meantime, as always, we thank you very much for your support. We truly could not do it without you!

Child-sized tables for Guranse School
Child-sized tables for Guranse School
Suryodaya School - painting
Suryodaya School - painting

Links:

Girl in grade 2 at Manedanda PS
Girl in grade 2 at Manedanda PS
Month by month, the schools with which Educate the Children is currently working in Dolakha District, Nepal are becoming better and more appealing places for children to spend their days learning and playing!

Since the beginning of March, ETC has completed important school improvement work at 18 schools in this rural area. The work has included providing furniture and making infrastructure improvements - painting, wall plastering, window grille installation, drinking water pipe installation, and school grounds improvements.

For each school, parents, teachers, and community members have been actively involved in the work. This "community contribution" is a keystone of ETC's success: By enlisting the active support of the local residents, we know that the work we do is both welcome and useful! Community contributions for these school improvement activities have included provision and transportation to the schools of the wood and other materials; labor to install slides, window grilles, and water pipes; and painting/plastering labor.

Below is a list of what we have accomplished at each school. (Please note that PS stands for Primary School, LSS stands for Lower Secondary School, and HSS stands for Higher Secondary School.)

  1. Kshamawati HSS: 15 sets desks/benches
  2. Manedanda PS: 15 sets desks/benches, 1 playground slide
  3. Bhumeshori PS: Painting, 1 cupboard
  4. Sundrawati LSS: Painting, 1 playground slide
  5. Lamanagi LSS: 1 cupboard, 1 slide
  6. Mahadevsthan PS: 1 cupboard
  7. Bosimpa PS: 1 cupboard
  8. Saraswoti Vidya Mandir PS:  Plastering in 3 rooms
  9. Saraswati Biddyamandir PS:   1 cupboard
  10. Suryadaya LSS: 1 cupboard
  11. Majuwa PS: 1 cupboard
  12. Kalinag HSS: 1 slide
  13. Devisthan LSS: 1 slide
  14. Janata LSS: 1 slide
  15. Saraswoti PS: Grounds improvements/maintenance and construction of supporting wall, 1 cupboard
  16. Devisthan PS: Painting, installation of drinking water pipes, 1 cupboard
  17. Jagaran Bhimeshwor PS: 10 sets desks/bench, installation of window grilles,1 cupboard, 1 slide
  18. Guranse PS: 1 slide


ETC is still working to secure the community contribution commitments from parents and teachers at four or five schools, so that the remainder of the planned work can be accomplished. We will be delighted to share that progress with you in a future report. Until then, please know how grateful we are for your support in making all of this possible!

Grade 1 children at Manedanda PS
Grade 1 children at Manedanda PS
Sundrawati LSS
Sundrawati LSS
Slide installed and in high demand!
Slide installed and in high demand!
Painting and window treatments
Painting and window treatments

Links:

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Organization

Project Leader

Lisa Lyons

Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Better Schools in Rural Nepal!