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Teacher's Travel Blog - Schools in Nepal

21/03/18

You might have read a travel blog from our drama teacher Paul, who decided to quit his responsibilities for 6 months and go on an exciting journey to Asia. Here is his interesting entry from a school visits in Nepal.

Is good schooling in Nepal ‘the preserve of the rich, or at least in the capital; Kathmandu’ ? So says our guide Dawa. ‘Most state schools are poorly run and private schools are better’ this is clearly a sweeping generalisation but in the places I visited, the schools with the best buildings and brightest outlook seemed to be fee paying or sponsored.

In rural areas, schools are even more varied in provision and children often travel a long way. Kathmandu is plastered with adverts for private school places and IELTs training providers.

In rural Nepal, some ‘caste’ simply don’t go to school. Dawa has recently been part of a school rebuilding programme in his home town of Goli, damaged by the 2015 earthquake, and seemingly never recovered. Without a school these remote villages are in danger of becoming museum pieces as the young people move to the cities.

Although the traditions of Sherpa culture are taught at home and the knowledge of the mountains they share is inherent to life here, it’s not enough. Men need to speak English for their jobs as mountain guides.

Kalden, from Lukla the small airport town which marks the start of our Everest base camp trek (30mins flight, 2 days walk, there is no road) explains that even here in a relatively rural place the text books for all subjects at school are in English so young people are becoming better and better speakers each year. He says that most subjects are taught from book, by rote.

Pedagogy? - what-a-gogy?

How do the students stay motivated I ask; ‘it is a privilege to go to school’ and ‘they want to improve English’ he says.

Though there are many problems with this way of learning, where students often write or repeat phrases and facts they don’t understand and progress is not always checked - generally, there is a desire to learn.

Most noticeable of all, everywhere we visit in Nepal, are the clean crisp tidy and proudly worn uniforms.

As Damian Hind makes proposals to expand grammar schools in the uk, around 1 in 4 children still live in poverty and will probably never get the chance to see one - where is the provision for the poorest children in the uk? Although the class system in England is less prescriptive than in Nepal or India, the disparity in education can be very apparent.

Who are the modern day philanthropists ?

A recent book which I have contributed to considers this question and many others about the UK system.

As a supply teacher, moving from school to school, it has been interesting to see different protocols, policies, initiatives and projects, but learning about different countries’ education systems is even more fascinating. In the same way a teacher will usually compare a new school to their old school, I find myself contrasting schools in the UK with the ones I see here.

In Khumjung, working behind the counter in his parents tea lodge as school is closed for the winter, Chitij Rai, 11years old, says ‘he enjoys school, but is shy’ and he studies the follosing subjects:

English
Nepali
Social (History, Geography)
Lama (Buddhism)
Science
Maths
Sport


Kalden our guide from Lukla nearby confirms that arts are not studied at school , but rather traditional dances, folk songs and musical instruments are taught at home; cooking and carving too depending on the family expertise.

Most young people here dream of being a trekking guide, working in the mountains and perhaps following the steps of the most famous Sherpa - Tenzing Norgay.

At Khumjung there are currently 12 teachers to 100 students. When a teacher is ill, the others step in, or someone from the village takes the children up the hill.

There are many programmes, initiatives and placements to improve teaching and learning in Nepal; one example is here

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