Children
 Nepal
Project #15934

Better Schools in Rural Nepal!

by Educate the Children
Vetted
ETC-Nepal staff distributing school supplies
ETC-Nepal staff distributing school supplies

This GlobalGiving project was originally launched in late 2013 so that ETC, with your kind and generous support, could physically improve school facilities in rural Nepal. In the aftermath of the spring 2015 earthquakes, that work became more urgent and the needs greater than ever before. Schools needed temporary buildings immediately, and more permanent buildings as quickly as possible. They need new toilets and new or repaired sources of drinking water. They also need furniture and supplies such as complete desk and bench sets, shelving units, carpeting, computers, and educational and recreational materials. ETC has been working hard to construct sturdy two-classroom buildings, toilets, and drinking water sources at more than two dozen schools in our current and former project areas, and to provide furniture and supplies at these and dozens of other schools. This work is ongoing, because the needs are long-term.

Although the obvious importance of having school buildings to go to cannot be overstated, it is equally important that children can actually attend, and that their experience is enriching. With that in mind, in this quarterly report we'd like to tell you about some of the "soft" programs that complement the physical infrastructure work, and which make ETC so effective in improving education in rural Nepal.

  • In February, ETC provided important basic support to 670 children from impoverished families, who might otherwise have to be kept home from school. We do this every year, covering relatively low-cost necessities (fees, supplies, uniforms) that are nevertheless beyond the reach of some families. Pictured at the top of this report, ETC-Nepal Director Mira Rana and Education Director Laxmi Basukala present a child with her new backpack full of useful supplies.
  • We also hold regular group meetings with parents – attended by hundreds annually – at which parents gain information and learn strategies to give their children the best chance to succeed at school. Topics include the importance of regular school attendance and of reading at home, behavioral issues and how best to cope, and health issues.
  • Rural teachers in Nepal are very unlikely to have access to professional development opportunitiesETC provides training every year to dozens of teachers of varying grade levels and subjects. Earlier this year, 34 teachers from 30 schools participated enthusiastically in a three-day music therapy training workshop, led by a well-known Nepali singer/musician. Incorporating music and dance into young children’s school activities offers an outlet for energy, fosters a positive learning environment, enables the use of skills and thought processes not typically engaged through desk work, and in this case provides children with a way to work through any ongoing post-quake stress. Pictured below are some of the training participants dancing to a lively song, and young children at Guranse Primary School dancing and singing in their classroom.
  • Finally, enriching extracurricular activities are an important component of any child's education. ETC supports volleyball tournaments, art competitions, and club activities such as our Agriculture in Schools program. Participants learn about the dignity and importance of agricultural work, gain practical experience through planning and cultivating their school gardens, and pass on their newfound skills and knowledge to their farming families. Pictured below are program participants at Milijuli Lower Secondary School, led by ETC staff agricultural specialist Chock Badahur Thami.

All of this "hard" and "soft" work is crucial to the success of our educational programming, and as always, we thank you very much for making it possible.

Teachers participating in music therapy training
Teachers participating in music therapy training
Guranse Primary School children singing
Guranse Primary School children singing
Agriculture in Schools, Milijuli Lower Sec. School
Agriculture in Schools, Milijuli Lower Sec. School

Links:

Young student practicing her writing skills
Young student practicing her writing skills

The school year in Nepal begins in the second half of April, soon after Nepali New Year (which this year will be April 13th on the Gregorian calendar). The opening of the soon-to-begin school year will coincide with the one-year anniversary of the worst earthquake to strike Nepal since 1934. 

As you know, ETC responded quickly to ensure that children could get back to school as quickly as possible after the quakes last year, in temporary classrooms.

The damage was so widespread that it will take a long time to recover fully. Speaking very broadly, there two major obstacles to continued progress in school infrastructure recovery:

  1. The Nepal national government has allocated approximately US$1,500 per affected school for post-quake reconstruction. This is nowhere near enough to rebuild more than one small building consisting of one larger room or two smaller rooms, and even then it would be empty of furniture and classroom materials.
  2. Other organizations (large and small) are pledging to work with individual schools in various parts of Nepal, but in many cases they have not even been able to put in place the necessary formal/legal approvals, much less has the work been started, and it is uncertain when that can and will happen.

Considering ETC's intensive and ongoing efforts in this broader context makes them all the more remarkable and valuable. We are currently working on quake-resistant (metal-frame) structures at several schools, employing local labor and with our staff providing ongoing supervision and technical support. The first structure ought to be completed in the next few weeks. These completed buildings will serve as valuable models for future building efforts in the area. The Nepal Center of North Carolina has generously supported this work at four specific schools, including Saptamai pictured below. There are dozens more schools in our past and present project areas, that need the same type and level of support.

We also continue to provide classroom materials and furniture as needed - see the photo below, of a set of desks and benches that had been carried up the hill to a school from the nearest road by a group of students. ETC provides complete desk/bench sets, whereas at some schools there are piles of currently unusable contributed desk/bench frames: for now, the villagers do not have spare boards and cannot cut new boards to make the frames usable. This is a prime example of how ETC's close relationships with school personnel and consistent presence in the communities makes our work so effective, even down to this level of detail. We take the time to determine what is really needed and useful!

Your interest in and support of our work has made this possible. Thank you so much.

Temp. classroom, Bhagwati Lower Secondary School
Temp. classroom, Bhagwati Lower Secondary School
ETC-supplied desks for a primary school
ETC-supplied desks for a primary school
Construction underway at Saptamai Primary School
Construction underway at Saptamai Primary School

Links:

Guranse students enjoying ETC-supplied chess set
Guranse students enjoying ETC-supplied chess set

...we did NOT retire this "Better Schools in Rural Nepal" project in late 2015 after all!

You may remember that in my last report, sent out in mid-October, I stated that we were planning to do so because of the similarities in purpose between our two current GlobalGiving projects: this one and the one entitled "Earthquake Relief: Rebuilding Schools in Nepal."

A week or two after I sent out that report to all of you, I was informed of a lovely surprise. GlobalGiving had chosen "Better Schools in Rural Nepal" as its November featured project for the Project of the Month Club. This is a neat way for GlobalGiving supporters who wish to make recurring monthly gifts but aren't sure how to choose from among the worthy recipients to benefit a new project every month. ETC is very grateful to have been selected. You can read Kevin Conroy's report by clicking here (scroll down a bit to the November 2015 update heading).

Since I had not applied for this honor, I was very pleasantly surprised indeed, and of course I wondered how we had come to be chosen. I was told that GlobalGiving selects "exemplary, high impact projects....Our in-the field travelers, Chris and Rachel had incredible things to say about their site visit to ETC in Nepal! The work ETC is doing for communities in Nepal is outstanding and we wanted to highlight this for the Project of the Month Club supporters." Chris and Rachel are two GlobalGiving volunteers who went to see ETC's work and meet our staff back in September. We are very grateful for their positive report.

Of course, the work goes on. ETC continues to support 30 schools in three VDCs ("counties") of Dolakha District, one of the hardest-hit regions. We are also supporting many schools in villages where we have worked before, all of which are located in the earthquake-affected districts. In addition to providing construction materials (especially galvanized metal sheets for roofing), we have provided hundreds of sets of desks, benches, and other furniture. We also continue to provide classroom and recreational materials at all the schools. These include but are not limited to:

  • White boards and markers
  • Number and alphabet puzzles
  • First aid kits
  • Pens, paper, and other stationery products
  • Balls, badminton sets, chess sets, cricket balls and bats, and other recreational materials

It is wonderful to see the continued commitment to education among Nepali villagers, even in the face of such hardships as losing their homes and working with limited resources to rebuild their livelihoods. As always, we thank you very much for supporting our important work with children and schools. You have made, and continue to make, a real difference in ensuring better futures for thousands of Nepali children!

Guranse students skipping rope at lunch break
Guranse students skipping rope at lunch break
Saptamai students with ETC-provided desks/supplies
Saptamai students with ETC-provided desks/supplies

Links:

Jankalyan Primary School needs walls!
Jankalyan Primary School needs walls!

ETC launched this GlobalGiving project "Better Schools in Rural Nepal" in late 2013, well over a year before the spring 2015 earthquakes destroyed most of the existing infrastructure. 

In the aftermath of the first quake, ETC started a second GlobalGiving project called "Rebuilding Schools in Nepal." The purpose of this project was to provide temporary learning centers (TLCs) and replacement supplies so that children could get back to school as soon as reasonably possible.

We have now reached a point where all 30 schools in our project area have had TLCs built, and all 30 schools have received replacement classroom materials and supplies. It is clear, however, that the TLCs will be in use for some time to come; it would not be possible to rebuild all 30 schools to the necessary size, using proper earthquake-resistant design, in the next several months.

Therefore, we need to ensure that the TLCs are suitable for medium-term usage as an interim solution. Many of them currently lack adequate (or any) walls, and can use more or better furnishings and classroom materials.

Because this "Better Schools" project and the "Rebuilding Schools" post-quake project are now so similar to one another - both having the goal of making tangible improvements to school facilities and the educational experience - we will soon be retiring this "Better Schools" project.  

Your support of ETC's work with schools in Nepal has been quite invaluable, both before and after the quakes. We've been able to send thousands of dollars from both projects to ensure better educational opportunities for children from disadvantaged families. Because of you, some 3,000 of Dolakha's children were able to resume their interrupted educations far sooner than might otherwise have been possible. 

We hope that you will be interested to learn about and support our "Rebuilding Schools" project. You can click here to read about it, or click on the link in the section below.

Thank you again, very much indeed, for every bit of support you've provided. It has made such a difference!

Grade 10 students crowded into a temporary space
Grade 10 students crowded into a temporary space
Pokhare Lower Secondary School students studying
Pokhare Lower Secondary School students studying

Links:

Destroyed classroom (photo by Mark Turin)
Destroyed classroom (photo by Mark Turin)

The ground still shakes a little on most days - but the kids are back in school!

As you know, the severe spring earthquakes destroyed almost all school facilities in the Dolakha villages where ETC works. Each of the 30 schools with which ETC has partnered since mid-2014 was damaged seriously, if not flattened. You can see some "before" and "after" photos by clicking on the link below. Aftershocks continue to occur frequently in Dolakha, making it abundantly clear that rebuilt permanent school facilities need to be quake-resistant; most of the old buildings were not, but the very few newer buildings fared much better. 

Rebuilding permanent schools will be a lengthy and expensive process involving many partners, including national and district-level government education offices as well as local residents and school personnel. The 3,000+ children who attend these schools cannot reasonably have their educations suspended until the schools can be permanently rebuilt.

With that in mind, ETC is supporting temporary learning centers (TLCs) at the 30 schools in our current project area. As of early July, we had provided building materials and technical support for the construction of TLCs at each of the schools; 90% of those temporary classrooms are built, and the other 10% are underway and will soon be completed. You can see a photo of a two-room TLC, made with support from ETC and USAID, below.

Moreover, we have provided classroom and school supplies and recreational materials (balls, jump ropes, etc.) to replace those destroyed when homes and schools collapsed. Ten schools and their students and teachers have already received these materials, and the others will soon receive theirs. The recreational materials are just as important as the academic materials, because even if just for a short while, children can forget their troubles in play as they did before their lives were upended.

Our staff reports that although the logistics are difficult - for example, the TLCs have smaller capacity than the now-ruined buildings did, so that classes have to take it in shifts to use these facilities - things are as back to normal as can be expected under the circumstances. Teachers, students, and families are relieved to have lost less school time than could otherwise have been the case. 

We are very grateful to you, our supporters, for helping thousands of children in Nepal get back to the important business of learning. Their future truly does depend on having the opportunity to be educated now!

Please do not hesitate to e-mail me at director@etc-nepal.org if you have any questions or comments about this update, or about ETC's work in general.

Building a TLC
Building a TLC
Temporary classrooms in use
Temporary classrooms in use

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Educate the Children

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.etc-nepal.org
Project Leader:
Lisa Lyons
Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States
$6,639 raised of $20,000 goal
 
 
112 donations
$13,361 to go
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