Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities

by The Santi School Project
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
Improve education for Nepali girls and minorities
The cover of Busy Bees, one of our new books
The cover of Busy Bees, one of our new books

Hot off the press: 1,500 copies of our first three children’s books, to supplement our teacher training programs that focus on the value of children’s literature as a literacy teaching tool and on strategies for incorporating books into the existing curriculum and school routines.

If you have been following our work for a while, you may recognize that this is an incredible accomplishment for us – the happily ever after ending of a long process, prolonged in various ways by the pandemic, that began nearly two years ago.

Research has demonstrated that listening to books being read aloud is one of the most important predictors or future academic success. Furthermore, having the chance to engage independently with books that are linguistically appropriate (in our case, printed in Nepali) and culturally relevant (to rural Nepal, using familiar local colloquialisms) is a cornerstone in the continuing development of functional literacy.

We decided to publish our own books because there is a lack of quality children’s books in Nepal. Now that we have been running training workshops for teachers for several years, we have begun to run out of quality books that we could stock on our classroom reading corners.

We’d like to give you a peek inside one of our books, Busy Bees, which was a collaboration among five teachers from two schools in Kavre district where we installed beehives in 2019, fulfilling a request from the local community.

The text describes the various chores of the worker bees and repeats a refrain of “Oh wow! That's the hardworking honeybee.”

Here are some sample stanzas from the book:

Roaming meadows and gardens, here they come buzzing
Oh wow! That's the hardworking honeybee.
Melting the wax, they build those hexagonal chambers
Oh wow! That's the hardworking honeybee
Flapping their wings, they fix the temperature of the hive
Oh wow! That's the hardworking honeybee
Searching for honey in the garden, they help pollinate many different plants
Oh wow! That's the hardworking honeybee

The illustrations are warm and engaging, with a bit of an anthropomorphic touch (bees using brooms to clean the hives), which students will find amusing. The phrasing relies on local (meaning more rural) word choice, to suggest activities of the bees. The book is also informative; it could be used in the classroom as a curriculum on honey bees.

Thank you for supporting our publishing efforts and the rural communities where we work. Your donation helps us publish and distribute our books as well as educate teachers about how to use them in the classroom. You make it all possible. We are extremely grateful!

Inside pages from Busy Bees
Inside pages from Busy Bees
Another look inside Busy Bees
Another look inside Busy Bees
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Schools are closed now for teachers and students.
Schools are closed now for teachers and students.

Another wave of Covid-19 infections has swept across Nepal and neighboring India, leading the government in Kathmandu to issue a nationwide lockdown at the end of April.

The situation is dire. Hospitals and healthcare workers in Nepal are overwhelmed as the fragile public health system simply cannot keep up. Hospitals are running out of oxygen and beds for patients. Mass cremations of Covid-19 victims have become a common sight around Kathmandu.

A similar spike in infections last fall had ebbed over the winter and many normal activities resumed. During that time, the staff of our implementing partner in Nepal maintained a busy pace. They were able to conduct several teacher training workshops and deliver the following materials to make classroom reading corners:

  • 651 books
  • 42 book racks
  • 42 low tables
  • 22 rooms with carpeting
  • 410 floor cushions
  • 43 teachers trained
  • 23 partner schools

One training session focused on social studies as the core of every interaction between people and the environment. Participants visited a saw mill, a community forest and collaborated to make a group book about the trips.

The second session, with a different group of teachers, was our read-aloud training. The group discussed what makes a good children's book, practiced writing and storyboard techniques, and reviewed research on the benefits of children’s literature as a way to develop literacy skills.

Before the most recent lockdown began, we contacted all of our school principals to make sure they encouraged their students to borrow books while schools are shut.

Over the long term, it's possible that the virus will continue to circulate in Nepal and the surrounding region. With low rates of vaccination and inadequate supply without international assistance for the remaining 28 million Nepalis who've not had a shot, schools may only be able to open sporadically over the next few years.

We have great admiration for the resilience of our staff, the rural communities where we work and all of the people of Nepal as they cope with this latest surge of the coronavirus. We remain grateful for the support of donors like you, who make our work possible. Thank you!

A teacher works on her storyboard during training
A teacher works on her storyboard during training
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Anjita reads her book about snow at the workshop.
Anjita reads her book about snow at the workshop.

One of the goals of our read-aloud training program is to publish children's stories written by teachers participating in our workshops. We're excited to announce that our first three titles will be available in early 2021.

These three original children's books will be in Nepali with culturally appropriate Nepali settings and characters. It's important to us that all of our books are written, illustrated and published locally by Nepali authors and artists.

We were fortunate to have started developing manuscripts before the pandemic shut down schools and limited our ability to conduct training sessions and bookmaking workshops. In 2019, our partner in Nepal, Kakshyalaya, installed two beehives at two schools in Kavre that enthralled teachers and children alike.

That experience led five primary grade teachers from the two schools to work together to create a book about bees at a training workshop focused on using Nepali children’s literature for literacy instruction.

At a separate training workshop, a teacher composed a story of her first encounter with snow and how it frightened her.

Both the manuscripts were forwarded to our book editor in Kathmandu, who has a wealth of experience in writing, editing and publishing children’s literature. We're also grateful to be working with one of the most prominent children’s literature illustration artists in Nepal.

Our editor has recently polished the manuscripts and they are in the hands of the illustrator. We will share more details of our books soon.

Thank you for your support during a trying and difficult year!

Sarita adds an illustration to a book about bees.
Sarita adds an illustration to a book about bees.
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A good book can make tough times easier.
A good book can make tough times easier.

After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, we did our best to help our communities rebuild their schools and their lives. Now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, another devastating emergency, we're adapting again to meet the needs of our students, their teachers and their schools.

We empower children, their teachers and their communities to transform the experience of learning in rural Nepal. In “normal” times, that means helping educators to inspire their students with a child-centered curriculum that emphasizes literacy and community-based learning activities. Now, with schools closed because of the pandemic until at least October, fulfilling our mission means bringing books to children where they live.

We hope that providing access to engaging children's books will reinforce our read-aloud program, keep kids interested in reading and provide a meaningful diversion during difficult times.

Developing countries like Nepal lack the healthcare infrastructure to handle an outbreak of Covid-19, which has stretched the capacity of much wealthier nations. This type of crisis makes daily life even more fragile for families already struggling to make ends meet. Imagine being stuck at home without a computer or a favorite gadget – or even something as simple as a good book.

This is a local effort, led by our Nepali partner, Kakshyalaya. We have coordinated with the education department in Nuwakot district of Nepal, as well as representatives from Shivapuri rural municipality, to run the bookmobile for as long as necessary. We have been working with these same commuities and their schools for several years as part of our teacher training program.

The Santi School Project has been fighting for literacy for more than 13 years. During that time we've forged strong bonds with communities in remote parts of the Kathmandu Valley. Because we already have relationships with local leaders, we can move quickly to give the kinds of services and resources that people look to us to provide.

Thank you for your support during this unprecedented time around the world. As a donor, you can feel confident that together we are making a real, positive impact for children in rural areas of the Kathmandu Valley.

Formal classes are closed indefinitely.
Formal classes are closed indefinitely.
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New books are always popular.
New books are always popular.

Together with our partner organization, Kakshyalaya, we recently delivered furniture, 500 books, carpets and posters to 15 schools in Nuwakot and Kavre districts in the Kathmandu Valley.

Ten schools each received 50 books, three book racks and at least two low reading tables. The books are in Nepali and English.

A handful of schools received only carpeting for new classrooms that opened in 2019, in response to damage from the 2015 earthquake, or carpeting and low reading tables.

The amount of carpeting and furniture each school received based on enrollment size and recommendations by the education department.

The posters were designed by a Kakshyalaya board member and teachers participating in our training workshops over the past two years. Among other topics, the posters promoted bookmaking as a classroom activity, part of our training emphasizing reading aloud to children.

A book rack full of books, along with some reading tables and carpeting covering cement floors, creates the kind of environment that research shows will encourage students to read and be successful, active learners.

Thank you for your support

Your donation helps us deliver the joy of reading to children in rural Nepal. We’re deeply grateful to all of you.

As a donor, you can feel confident that your support is making a real, positive impact for communities in remote areas of the Kathmandu Valley. Please continue your support today.

We encourage reserving time to read independently.
We encourage reserving time to read independently.
We provided books, tables, a bookrack and carpet.
We provided books, tables, a bookrack and carpet.
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Organization Information

The Santi School Project

Location: Ellicott City, MD - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @santischool
Project Leader:
Christopher Heun
Founder
Halethorpe, MD United States
$10,442 raised of $20,000 goal
 
243 donations
$9,559 to go
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