The Future Creators of Chhap
Sept. 14, 2017
"मलाई मेराे गाउँका सबै बच्चाहरुले राम्रोसँग पढुन जस्तो लाग्छ। मैले पढ्न पाइनँ। नपढेर धेरै दु:ख पाएँ। त्यहीँ भएर गाउँका सबै बच्चाहरुलाई पढ्नु पर्छ भन्छु।" says Nirmala Tamang, parent of my students, Chhap.
Chhap is a beautiful Tamang community 38 kilometers away from Kathmandu. It's a breathtaking place that consists of more than 60 warm hearted families mostly Syangten, Waiba and Ghale castes.
Unlike some of the communities in rural Nepal, people here are well aware of the importance of education in their children's lives but the students have not been able to perform well academically. There are plenty of reasons why the students have not been able to grasp the coursework and to name two most common reason is the quality of their curriculum content and inadequate guidance and support at home. Students spend on average only six hours a day in school and are confronted with "too much content, too many subjects", and are not getting enough time and space for genuine learning or reflection. The present system favors those who could supplement the work of the school at home through grinds or by paying for extras such as coaching.
There are various other factors that affect their performance -- lack of motivation, lack of confidence and no role models to look up to also impacts student's learning, resulting in school dropouts and child marriage. Recently, a student eloped from this village and a few dropped out of school.
A few weeks ago, our principal, Krishna Dhungana, held a meeting to create a Community Learning Zone program that helps the student learn in groups so to increase their learning outcome. This collaborative effort between my co-Fellow, Tek Bahadur Karki, me and the school staff has been so positively received by the parents that they have even managed to provide an amazing space for the classroom.
Every day, 63 लिछाला छाप साेसेलाकते (Future Creators of Chhap) students from Early Child Development (ECD) to grade 10 gathers according to their grade group from 6 pm to 9 pm. They revise their learning from school and do reflections with their friends. They start their session with meditation and sets values, norms, and cultures for the learning.
Community Learning Zone doesn't just focus on the students academic but also their non-academics from understanding different cultures of Western Nepal to planning an event. Recently we organized an event on Gaura Parwa Festival in which the students shouldered the responsibility of the event for their own learning. It helped students develop the kind of critical thinking skills—not just rote knowledge—required for "real world" success.
Though the program is still in early stage, it has helped us build some level of confidence in our students. The students are already starting to feel the sense of belonging to their school and community which I know will be important to their academic achievement.
The thinking behind the program is to not just improve the student's learning of curriculum, but preparing them for success at least seven years beyond SEE (Secondary Education Examination) graduation.
Our goal is to celebrate every festival to teach students about other cultures along with skills to attain financial independence that would allow them to live a fulfilling personal and family life. Our next event will be Dashain in which we plan to teach the students about profit and loss. And if we are able to generate profit, it will be invested in the enhancement of Community Learning Zone classrooms, by setting up a mini library in the community to initiate a reading club and educating the students about the negative impact of child marriage on health and the risk of disempowerment for the girls who marry early.
|Astha Khatri is one of the 40 Fellows who is in her second year of Teach For Nepal Fellowship. Prior to joining Teach For Nepal Fellowship, she completed her Bachelor's in Business Administration (Finance) from Ness Wadia College of Commerce, Savitri Bai Phule Pune University, India. She is currently teaching Mathematics in Terse Higher Secondary School in Talamarang, Sindhupalchowk. You can sponsor Fellows like her by donating to Teach For Nepal.|