We got off to a running start this year. Construction of 4 new classrooms for the Bhatte Primary School, the first of our 2011 reconstruction projects, actually began last December. Conditions at the school were so bad that teachers often held classes outside; holes in the roof made rooms unusable during the rainy season.
This project is a partnership with Youth for Nepal and the villagers of Bhatte, who are contributing nearly 25% of the total construction cost. Villagers dismantled the old building, re-used some of the stone in the new building and a local farmer also has donated stone from his fields.
The new school building should be finished in about 4 weeks.
The village of Bhatte is about a 90 minute walk from our first school, in Ramche, in the mountains of Nepal.
In the area of Nepal where we work, often the greatest impact we can make in education comes not from building new schools from scratch, but repairing those that already exist, and providing books and classroom materials.
We’re getting ready to start repairs on Bhatte Primary School, which was originally built in 1984 and consists of two buildings, only one of which is used because the other is near collapse and must be destroyed. 109 students attend, in kindergarten through 5th grade. The school is located about 90 minutes from Ramche, the site of our first school.
We require that the local community contribute at least 25% of the total cost through donations of labor and materials. We’re also looking forward to collaborating on this project with Youth for Nepal.
NEW ONLINE INFO ABOUT VOLUNTEERING AT OUR SCHOOL
We’ve updated our web site recently with a new interactive brochure about volunteering in Nepal. It gives lots of great details about what to expect. (Thanks to David Stein for creating it.) We’re always trying to recruit volunteer teachers to spend time with us in Nepal.
We’ve completed our annual evaluation of our school in Ramche, Nepal, and its second academic year, which concluded in March. We’re very happy with the results:
• All 55 of our first- and second-grade students passed the government’s final exam. (There is no exam for our kindergarten students).
• 62% of our second-grade students earned an A+ or an A. 85% of our first-grade students earned an A or a B.
• Student attendance was 93% between January and March
• Our teachers have decided to teach all subjects (except Nepali) in English to improve their reading, writing and speaking skills.
• Our students already speak 3 languages: their mother tongue, Tamang; Nepali; and English. Students have greatly improved their speaking skills in Nepali and English in the past year.
• Sarah, our volunteer from Austria for 4 months, was a big help at the school. She introduced extracurricular activities like sports, picnics and Garbage Police, which encouraged students to clean up their village.
• She also led Apple Day. Many of our students tasted the fruit for the very first time in their lives.
• Sarah talks about her experience volunteering with Santi School on a video on YouTube. (Link below).
If you would like to volunteer, or know someone who would, please let us know! We're always looking for English speakers to work with our children.
As always, thanks for your support.
For our second construction project, we chose to conduct substantial renovations to a two-story school about a 90-minute walk from Ramche (the site of our first school).
At the Mahakali Lower Secondary School, we replaced a leaky roof and broken plaster, fixed the toilets, and installed new furniture.
The most encouraging part of the project was the contributions by the local community. Not only did workers donate labor worth one-third of the total project cost, but the rusty zinc sheets that comprised the previous roof were sold to raise money as well.
We've just learned that the Nepali government has committed vital financial support for our school in Ramche.
This is an important step for us on the road to sustainability because it means that the government will pay for one teacher's salary annually.
Last year, the government pledged additional support, although a more modest amount, to help pay for books and supplies at the school.
These decisions by the government prove that they believe in our school and want to see it succeed.
Currently, there are three teachers at our school, and we have applied for their salaries to be paid by the government as well.
In addition, we have begun our second construction project: renovating Mahakali Lower Secondary School, which teaches more than 150 students from the Tamang ethnic minority in a two-story building about a 90 minute walk from Ramche (the site of our first school).
The Mahakali school was built in 1995 and needs new toilets and furniture as well as repairs to a leaky roof, balcony and broken plaster. The villagers have agreed to donate their labor. A photo of a damaged classroom is included with this update.
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