Our Development Model
Programs are driven by the community with our support and encouragement. We have good community relationships and have local champions who are willing to push through ideas, ensure local ownership, and monitor and report back on successes and failures.
We promote education programs for teachers, children and their parents. We support children through scholarships and sponsorships and we offer greater diversity in education through digital technologies.
We help build the capacity of teachers and members of the local community by providing training opportunities with the aim of sustaining local projects and enabling locals to contribute to community-based learning and information sharing.
Building networks and sharing
We are creating a ‘family’ of schools with teachers and members of the community having shared goals for education and success. We are building the capacity of members of one village and then asking them to help the next village. It is an incentive for involvement that opens the way for an ongoing exchange of teachers, knowledge and support.
Building our clusters
We develop a cluster of communities we help. A closed cluster allows us to create the necessary support and incentive structure that can sustain our programs. Clusters are supported by the team in Nepal with the support of the Foundation in Australia.
We are Working in Nepal
Nepal is a land-locked Himalayan country bordered by two economic giants, China (Tibet Autonomous Region) to the North and India in the East, West and South. Home to eight of the ten highest mountains in the world including Mount Everest, the Himalayan mountain region are where 80% of the 30 million Nepalese live. Nepal has roughly three ecological regions: the mountains (35%), the hills (42%) and the Terai (23%).
Nepal has scenic mountains, outstanding trekking and the richness in exotic cultures and races make Nepal a popular tourist destination which brings in substantial income into the country.
Although Nepal has benefited only marginally from the economic growth in its two neighbour countries, the Human Development Report has acknowledged Nepal as one of the top ten performers in human development across the world. According to the report, Nepal has shown significant progress in areas of health and education through effective public policy efforts. Development challenges, however exist in access to quality primary education, improving basic health outcomes, strengthening governance and reducing poverty.
Nepal is emerging from a period of armed conflict and faces the challenges of maintaining political stability and developing a constitution. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report (2010) ranking it 138 out of 169 countries in the human development index.
Life in the Village
The traditional way of life in villages in the hill regions where we are current working revolves around subsistence agriculture. Families plant rice in irrigated terraces before the monsoon season and harvest in the autumn. Other crops include millet, corn, greens, squash, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin and yellow-flowering mustard seed. Livestock such as cattle, buffalo and goats are an integral part of the local agriculture. They provide meat, milk, draught power for farming and fertilizer (manure) for cultivation.
This labour intensive life makes it difficult for some children to attend school regularly because of the tasks required at home to support the family. Parents rotate the duties among the children to ensure that they all receive a basic education.
One of Nepal’s major international exports is labor and many rural households depend on at least one member’s earnings from employment away from home. Many families have or have had household income supplemented by overseas employment, particularly in the Middle East. In the areas we are working, around 70% of households have a member of the family working overseas. Sometimes workers can face harsh employment conditions with abuse, manipulation, low pay and unsafe working environments.
Although the remnants of the caste system exists in daily life, it’s influence on the relationships between the two communities in this area of Nepal are weak. More so for the younger generation where both Brahmin and Dalit students go to school together and have had the opportunity to develop close friendships. People from the Dalit community have slowly risen to higher social and economic positions and have had the opportunity to move beyond the confinement of traditional labour professions. Two major employment opportunities have come from working in the local tourist service industry as well as from overseas employment, particularly in the Middle East.
Despite recent successes in the abolition of discrimination, Dalits come from an inter-generational disadvantaged position. For instance, the parents and grandparents of the current generation of Dalit students in Astam were forbidden to attend school and most are illiterate.
Education in rural areas
The state of rural schools in Nepal are often poor with a lack of physical facilities and teacher resources. There are large disparities in the quality of education in rural government schools compared to their private counterparts and schools in the cities. The growing trend is for more well off families to send their children to comparatively more expensive private schools since they generally have better facilities, they teach in English, have more class time within the teaching year, and students tend to have higher performance levels in the SLC examinations.
These rural schools lack the facilities to help deliver rich learning content in the learning process and to prepare students to be able to fully participate in the world as digital citizens.
Formal school education in Nepal starts from around the age of six years and officially spans a period of 12 years. Primary school has five years of study from grades 1–5 and lower secondary and secondary levels have grades 6–8 and 9–10 respectively.
The final examination, known as the School Leaving Certificate (SLC), is given at the end of the 10th grade of high school and is the ‘iron-gate’ to be crossed for entry into higher levels of education.
After passing the SLC, students have the option of studying two more years at the 11th and 12th grade to complete the certificate of Higher Secondary Education (10+2), or undertake a two year course called an Intermediate or Proficiency Certificate in a chosen subject.
For more information, go to the Wikipedia website.