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
A typical classroom
Kindergarten students in an improved classroom