Education  Nepal Project #31872

Tsharka Tibetan Elementary School, Dolpo, Nepal

by International Community Development Foundation
Tsharka Tibetan Elementary School, Dolpo, Nepal

In 2020, Tsharka and all of Upper Dolpo escaped infection, but in 2021, COVID reached even these high Himalayan valleys. Tsharka School had to suspend classes for one month this school year. Our School Coordinator says everyone got sick with severe flu-like symptoms that was confirmed to be COVID. However, after one month, people’s health improved and school re-opened. Our School Coordinator believes Tsharka village has achieved local herd immunity. There were no known fatalities due to COVID.

 

Through 2021, the number of students enrolled at Tsharka School has continued to increase, as we serve more of the children in Tsharka village. During COVID, over a dozen local parents, who previously chose to send their children to boarding schools in Kathmandu or India, chose their local elementary school instead. We hope that Tsharka School’s high quality of teaching—and the chance for their children to remain close to their families and immersed in their local culture—will keep local parents committed to Tsharka School. 

 

During the summer of 2020, construction began on two passive solar buildings that will eventually house the temporary hostel and provide more comfortable classrooms for students during the winter school months. As our students reach higher grade levels, the winter school months are essential for them to complete the annual curriculum. Difficulties in transporting building materials, due largely to COVID, slowed construction, but the passive solar buildings will be finished in 2021. 

 

Tsharka School’s Eco Club is going strong. Monthly club activities include hikes to learn about local plants and how the ecosystem works. Trash pick-up is a weekly event. 

 

Spelling contests are held every Friday. 

 

For soccer, the students’ favorite sport, students have been divided into four teams that play against each other in intramural competition.

 

Thanks to support from our loyal donors, Tsharka School is going strong: thriving despite the challenges posed by COVID, keeping students engaged and progressing in their studies.

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Milking a yak in high Himalayan pasture
Milking a yak in high Himalayan pasture

The 2021 school year is well underway in Tsharka. When the snow that covers the high mountain passes melts in mid-April, many families return to Tsharka from lower elevations. During the summer months, the yak herding families of Tsharka take their yaks to high pastures where there is grass for the yaks to feed on. These girls will not accompany their families this summer, but will stay at the temporary hostel at Tsharka School so they can attend classes. With their red and blue roofs, the new classrooms at Tsharka School have a beautiful view of the valley and the village houses. Our classrooms are fuller each year as more families send their children to our local village school. Our winter classes allow older students to complete the school curriculum mandated by the Nepali government. The school also serves as a center for community activities and celebrations. 

Two Tsharka School students
Two Tsharka School students
View from Tsharka School's new classrooms
View from Tsharka School's new classrooms
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Student studying inside greenhouse
Student studying inside greenhouse

Since 2003, Tsharka Elementary School has operated during the summer months, from April through October, when most families are at home in the village. During this compressed six-month school year, students worked hard to complete the full nine months of studies. As students grew older and we added more classes, it became more and more difficult for students to learn all the required material during the summer months. Last year, for the first time, Tsharka Elementary School operated during the winter months. This gave students a chance to complete the full year’s studies without trying to rush through them. In 2020-2021, our School Coordinator stayed in Tsharka for the winter to manage the winter school program. Plans to build a new passive solar building, including classrooms, were delayed by the COVID pandemic in 2020. However, almost all the building materials are now in Tsharka. We hope that during the summer of 2021, the building can be completed. For now, students study in our recently-completed regular classrooms. Our greenhouse, itself a passive solar structure, gives a few students a place to study in a more comfortable temperature.  

 

Girls attending Winter School
Girls attending Winter School
Assembling outside new classroms
Assembling outside new classroms
Winter School Recess
Winter School Recess
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Villagers contribute hard work and energy
Villagers contribute hard work and energy

After a short closure in June, 2020, due to a case of COVID documented in another part of Dolpo, Nepali government authorities allowed Tsharka School to reopen. The school functioned well for the rest of the school year. Due to COVID, no outsiders were allowed to enter the region. 

Materials that had been purchased for the passive solar classroom were unfortunately delayed during their journey to Tsharka. Landslides that closed a section of road near Pokhara were responsible. We hope building may start next year.

Villagers banded together to finish a long-anticipated project: encompassing the school campus with a stone wall. The stones are free — at the cost of back-breaking labor. The technique for constructing the wall was an ancient one, but highly effective. 

The school campus and sports areas are now well-defined. The new classrooms and new wall highlight the progess and development that characterize Tsharka Elementary School. 

Ancient building techniques
Ancient building techniques
Tsharka School campus enclosed
Tsharka School campus enclosed
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Ready to enter Tsharka - Chharka - School
Ready to enter Tsharka - Chharka - School

Despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tsharka School opened on time at the beginning of May 2020. Veteran teacher Thupten went up to Chharka in late April to join Tse-wangmo and Choesang to open the school and resume classes. In addition to our three experienced local teachers, we hired a fourth teacher from the village temporarily. The temporary teacher is a young man from Chharka who has studied in Kathmandu. 

 

The school operated at near-full capacity for just over one month, until the end of the first week in June. Then the Mayor of the Municipality that includes the village of Tsharka ordered that the school be shut, because an active case of COVID-19 had been discovered in the Municipality. The case was in a part of the Municipality several days’ walk from Tsharka. Now that two weeks have passed, and there is no sign of infection in Tsharka, we hope that the Mayor will allow the school to reopen soon. 

 

Our School Coordinator Samdup Tsering is currently in Kathmandu endeavoring to purchase educational materials and other materials for the ongoing school building project. He has been waiting for the country to reopen but due to the persistently increasing number of infected cases, the lockdown has been extended and as yet, he has not been able to purchase the materials.

 

Although operating Tsharka Elementary School is proving exceptionally difficult this year, the teachers ICDF supports are working hard and creatively to ensure our students’ continued progress.

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Organization Information

International Community Development Foundation

Location: Fort Lupton, CO - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Barbara Euser
Fort Lupton, CO United States
$24,837 raised of $30,000 goal
 
206 donations
$5,163 to go
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