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 Education  Nepal Project #15934

Better Schools in Rural Nepal!

by Educate the Children
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Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Better Schools in Rural Nepal!
Bhadrawati Primary School early ed classroom
Bhadrawati Primary School early ed classroom

It's been about 28 months since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated much of Nepal. Since that time, ETC's commitment to helping the people of three Village Development Committees (or VDCs, somewhat similar to American counties) make better lives for themselves has been unwavering. The village residents themselves - our valued and constant project partners - have also shown enormous resilience and determination. But the work itself has, of course, been more challenging than usual. Because literally every one of the 30 schools* with which we had been working suffered major physical damage, every one of them needed significant help to get up and running again.

And although it's now more than two years later, many of them STILL need significant help in order to provide the kind of learning environment that the children deserve.

The photo above, depicting the early childhood education classroom at Bhadrawati Primary School, illustrates this point. There are ETC-provided educational materials and items of furniture - but more of both are needed to ensure a welcoming and comfortable learning environment for these 4- to 6-year-old children. Unfortunately, given that many unimproved "temporary" classrooms like this one can't be locked when not in use, there is a risk of theft (we know, it's sad...but it happens) and therefore it's not a good idea to leave anything of any value inside. Moreover, the building itself is neither as weatherproof nor as sturdy as it should be.

Compare this to the photo below, showing the early education classroom at Deurali Primary School. This was one of the first new buildings we supported, in early 2016. It's sturdy, weatherproof, comfortable, attractive, and well-supplied/furnished. The children, teachers, and families are delighted with it. The building design (our own) has been praised by the District Education Office as a model for replication elsewhere.

These two photos were both taken earlier this summer, and these schools are within a relatively short distance of each other in the same VDC. Yet it's clear to all of us which classroom we'd prefer for our own children. 

We are very grateful for your support of children's education in rural Nepal. If you're able to make another gift now, we'd be even more grateful - and so would the children and their families!

Until next time, thank you once again.

 

* In an earlier report, we mentioned that one small school with which we had been working prior to the quakes had not yet reopened, and that the students had to walk farther to attend school elsewhere. We are very glad to report that that school has recently reopened, much to the benefit and happiness of the local families!

Photos by Rajanee Kunwar, ETC Documentation Officer 

Deurali Primary School early ed classroom
Deurali Primary School early ed classroom

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Primary students in their classroom doorway
Primary students in their classroom doorway
ETC and You: Making a Big Difference for the Smallest Students!

When it comes to financial and logistical support, primary schools in rural Nepal are often overlooked in favor of larger secondary schools. Primary schools may have as few as three or four classrooms, and serve only a few grade levels. Since the earthquakes, government entities and large charitable organizations have therefore often chosen to focus their (limited) rebuilding efforts on the bigger schools, many of which serve children up through grades 10 through 12.

Yet we know that children's positive experiences in early education are so important to their success in secondary and post-secondary educational levels, and to eventual success in the careers of their choice. A child who drops out during the primary school years is very unlikely to resume his or her interrupted education, and will probably be mired in lifelong poverty. Moreover, these smaller schools were at least as badly damaged by the 2015 earthquakes as larger schools were, and they are in many ways the backbones of their village communities.

With these facts in mind, Educate the Children has already enabled the construction of many new classrooms at six primary schools in Dolakha District. ETC provided the original design, managed the approval process, purchased some of the building materials, and oversaw the construction progress. Local residents (some of whom are parents of children in the schools) did the physical building work and provided/transported some of the building materials (e.g., stone for foundations).

Funds permitting, it is our goal to support the remaining thirteen primary schools in our project area with these new multi-room PLCs (Permanent Learning Centers). One of these is Laliguras Primary School, which had been closed for two years after the earthquakes but is now reopened, much to the benefit and happiness of the village children who now don't have to walk so far to attend a different school! Every one of these thirteen schools is of great importance to its community. Collectively, they nurture many hundreds of children every year - children who will be the future teachers, farmers, health care providers, and parents in their villages.

On behalf of everyone at ETC, thank you for caring about these children and for helping to ensure their brighter futures!

Child-friendly, safe, & attractive classroom space
Child-friendly, safe, & attractive classroom space

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Guranse Primary School pre-primary student
Guranse Primary School pre-primary student

How has the generosity of friends like you helped to ensure a better educational experience for 4,426 students at 29* Dolakha schools?

By supporting new and renovated facilities, better supplied classrooms, and useful professional development opportunities for school staff. 

ETC is in the process of constructing new buildings (2-3 rooms each) at six schools. You can see the construction work in progress in one of the photos below, and you can see last year's similar buildings being put to good use in the other two photos below.

The other 23 schools are also benefiting from our School Improvement Program through receiving such needed items as classroom and office furniture, new or rebuilt toilets, water infrastructure (tanks/pipes/faucets), and computers.

All 29 schools have received and will continue to receive educational and recreational materials. These simple items are so important for a quality school experience, yet these cash-strapped rural schools often have to do without such items.

That's the "hardware." On the "software" side, our teacher training opportunities continue to be well attended and received. Most recently, 35 teachers took part in our highly popular music therapy training, where they learned to incorporate music and movement into their lesson plans and teaching methods. ETC first offered this training opoprtunity about a year ago, and there was strong demand for another multi-day session, which we were delighted to be able to provide.

We also support the school headmasters by helping them connect more effectively and regularly with their peers. ETC facilitates headmasters' meetings (held quarterly) and field visits for observation of best practices. In fall 2016, as our Nepal staff reports, "Headmasters learned about the administrative management, classroom management, child-friendly classrooms, child-centered teaching methods used by the teachers, library management, use of technology while teaching, and laboratory management etc. of different schools through direct observation."

All of this matters to the 4,426 enrolled children's futures in ways that we who are in more fortunate situations often take for granted.

As always, we thank you very much for your continued interest in ETC's work. We couldn't do it without you!

 

* Before the spring 2015 earthquakes, ETC was working with 30 schools covering grades pre-primary through 12. One of the smallest schools has not yet reopened, and its students are attending the next closest schools until such time as it does reopen. 

Guranse Primary School pre-primary classroom
Guranse Primary School pre-primary classroom
Deurali Primary School
Deurali Primary School
Construction at Bhagwati Lower Secondary School
Construction at Bhagwati Lower Secondary School

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Third grade student at Deurali Primary School
Third grade student at Deurali Primary School

Schools in Dolakha District, Nepal are now more than halfway through the school year, which begins in the spring and runs through late winter. The more than 4,000 children enrolled at the 29 schools with which ETC presently partners are making good use of the classrooms, supplies, and equipment that ETC – with your very generous support – has built and provided in the time since the earthquakes.

During the monsoon season, there are things we cannot reasonably do. In particular, construction of any kind is not a good plan when the ground is soggy and roads on which the building materials must be transported may be closed or washed out. But there are plenty of things we could and did do during the monsoon season, including:

  • Training 33 teachers in methods of developing their own educational materials
  • Providing carpeting and shelving for 19 classrooms
  • Holding 9 large-group meetings with parents (total attendance: 600) to discuss topics of importance to their children’s growth and development

So now that the monsoon season is over, what are ETC's plans and hopes for the rest of the school year?

  • For one thing, we'll be building six more two-classroom buildings. These run just under $7,000 each, including furniture and supplies. Those that were built during the past year and are in use now were SO greatly appreciated by the students, teachers, and parents. They are safer and in most cases much nicer than pre-quake facilities, and they are certainly more weather-proof than the temporary facilities erected within a couple of months after the earthquakes.
  • Every school also needs better toilet facilities. These are important for public health, to prevent the spread of germs and communicable illnesses that so frequently keep children (and teachers!) out of the classroom.
  • Finally, every school still needs such everyday items as first aid and stationery supplies and educational materials (maps, charts, books, etc.). We provide these on a year-round basis. 

School improvements are among the work ETC does each year. However, because of the 2015 earthquakes, there is still so much more to be done than could possibly have been imagined when we began our current multi-year program cycle in mid-2014.

These children truly deserve the best possible environments in which to learn, grow, and thrive. ETC is committed – with the support of great friends like you – to doing as much as we can to make that possible. Thank you!

 (Photos by Rajanee Kunwar and Barbara Butterworth)

Happy girl with her new backpack & school supplies
Happy girl with her new backpack & school supplies
Boy practicing writing on ETC-provided white board
Boy practicing writing on ETC-provided white board

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Pre-K students in existing Tettishkoti classroom
Pre-K students in existing Tettishkoti classroom

ETC's standard practice of collaborating closely with the beneficiaries of our programs - throughout all stages, from planning to execution and evaluation - is a key reason why our work is so effective. By engaging the target population all along, we ensure that we are doing what is actually needed instead of what we assume is needed. Our collaborative approach also builds local leaders' and residents' commitment to sustaining the work, both immediately and in the long run.

Here's just one example:

Mr. Khadga Dhwoj Khadka, headmaster of Shree Tettishkoti Primary school in Lamidanda VDC, says that he is very happy "to have got an opportunity to work with ETC because of its transparent working style....Moreover, their active follow up and monitoring work is also praiseworthy." (emphasis added)

During the program year that ended on June 30th, the students and staff at Mr. Khadka's school benefited from 10 new sets of desks and benches, classroom supplies and educational materials, an office table and five chairs, and 100 meters of pipe and a water tank. (It should be noted that Lamidanda VDC often has problems with water shortages, so that capturing and storing rain water is particularly important for schools there.)

Two Tettishkoti staff members also participated in our professional development opportunities: trainings for materials development (using readily available items to create enriching and useful classroom materials) and music therapy (helping young children cope with everyday and extraordinary stress through music and movement).

In the months to come, Tettishkoti will also be one of at least six schools at which sturdy, two-room buildings will be constructed, furnished, and supplied. You can see from the photos that the existing classrooms, while adequate as temporary facilities, could certainly bear improvement to be safer, more comfortable, and more welcoming learning spaces for young children.

Tettishkoti is a relatively small school, with only 82 students and six teachers, so this assistance has made and will continue to make a very significant positive impact! Mr. Khadka and his staff and students are very pleased and grateful to work with ETC, as are the staff and students at the other 53 schools ETC supported in the year that ended on June 30th.

As always, we at ETC thank you very much for making it possible.

Mira Rana, ETC's Nepal Director, at Tettishkoti
Mira Rana, ETC's Nepal Director, at Tettishkoti

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Organization Information

Educate the Children

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ETC_Nepal
Project Leader:
Lisa A. Lyons
Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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