FROM DEEP VALLEYS TO HIGH MOUNTAINS
Aug. 20, 2020
As we are reading this, Kathmandu valley is deserted and eerie silence spreads across the streets. Fear and chaos have taken over in some major cities where death tolls are rising. 87,96,624 children’s education, mental health, safety, and prospects are looming in uncertainty. It seems that everything has come to a stop.
Except that it hasn’t.
“This is what we learned during our Fellowship, isn’t it? That when things get difficult, we can’t just wait and do nothing. We have to figure out a way…” says Sagendra. He is a 2014 TFN Fellow, who is currently a co-director at Collaborative Schools Network (CSN) that adopts and manages existing public (government-funded) schools in Nepal and has proven to transform the quality of education among the students coming from some of the most economically disadvantaged families.
This month, we bring the story of Teach For Nepal Alumni - their unstoppable pursuits to continue supporting students and their uncompromising commitment to ensuring all children receive a quality education.
Our first video features Sagendra Man Shrestha (TFN Alumni 2014), who's the current team of 13 at Collaborative School Network includes 11 Teach For Nepal Alumni. This in itself is an example of alumni collaboration towards alumni vision and ultimately to our ONE DAY vision that all children in Nepal will attain an excellent education.
The team has worked to find ways for the school to serve as a nexus that brings students and families together to keep them informed and share the responsibility of keeping students safe while continuing learning. Starting with creating a learning kit that students used to continue learning at home during the early phase of lock-down, the school has now reopened with a revised schedule and learning plan with all safety measures in place. It has trained family members of kindergarten students to come to school and stay with their children to ensure their safety as well as assist in the learning process.
Sagendra, who has an experience of codirecting and managing CSN for over four years shares, “excellence and equity are the cornerstones of good education systems, and these are challenged even during normal times. One thing we can all be certain of is a future filled with uncertainty. With the prolonged halt in education, the aforementioned gaps are certain to get further stretched.” Adding probable solutions to these problems he adds, "The problems we face today and unknown challenges of tomorrow can only be solved by cultivating a new set of practices in education. The ‘new normal’ demands a new experiment and approaches.”
The second video features Bikash Deshar (TFN Alum 2014) who is a Director at Crystal Mountain School in Upper Dolpo. From Kathmandu, Upper Dolpa is almost a day-long bus ride and then 5-6 days of trekking on narrow trails across an altitude of 4300m. Needless to say, the schools are low on the human resource because of the pull towards city life. That was until Anup Thakuri (TFN Alumni, 2017) joined the school last year and brought Bikash and Shankar Pudasaini (TFN Alumni 2018) to this school which true to its name is situated in the foothills of mystical mountains.
However, it is not the breathtaking view of mountains that will make people wish their school was like that. The way teaching and learning is happening in this school - the hands-on experiential learning techniques, learning outdoors through games, and sheer joy in the learning process and sense of physical and emotional safety in schools, will make you realize that resources are not the limitations when the mindset of leadership is limitless.
Currently, Teach For Nepal has 250 alumni, out of which 60% continue to be directly involved in education and are leading the movement for education equity and quality education. Two years of Teach for Nepal Fellowship allows some of Nepal’s outstanding graduates to directly impact student’s learning outcomes, while understanding the systemic challenges and potentials for transformation in public education. Post fellowship, Teach For Nepal continues to nurture the leadership and growth of alumni while providing a space to collaborate, share best practices, and innovate solutions.