When teachers become leaders

Nov. 20, 2020

Story by Rojan Manandhar 

The 6-inch breadth and a 9-inch length of cloth are measured and then cut, then it is sewed with a needle and thread, elastics are added on both sides. After it is sewed completely, the extra unwanted threads are cut with a scissor. Finally, a mask is prepared. 

This is what Ganesh (Science Fellow) and Suruchi (English Fellow) have been teaching after school hours to their students at Shree Janak Secondary School after returning to their placed school in Katuwa, Lalitpur as their compulsory assignment. A must-know skill for each student. 

For someone who was traveling from Kathmandu, which was considered the epicenter of the disease back in August, seeing students and community members without a mask was a daunting scene at first for them. In addition to that buying and wearing a mask in this countryside is a rare and new practice. People around here have never worn it even when the country’s covid chart was at its peak. Reason – unavailability. ‘Even if someone wants to buy a mask in the village, there is hardly any shop selling proper masks,” Ganesh shares his shocking encounter when he first arrived in the community and met a group of unmasked villagers.  

Both Ganesh and Suruchi had arrived after their community after seven months. It was then he approached Suruchi and together they thought about educating the students first and the community later about the low-cost mask-making procedure. 

After the easily made no-cost, low-cost masks were made, it was time for them to educate them about their safe usage. “First few weeks, the students found it suffocating to wear those masks when they were inside classrooms. But a month later today, I have seen them along with their parents with masks in the community and inside school premises” shares Suruchi. 

Although the school hasn’t reopened completely, each student is asked to attend classes thrice a week by the school administration. That makes interaction with students limited. Class time has further shortened to 30 minutes. If the students are not constantly reminded of these new practices, innocent minds will never estimate the chaos the virus might bring. “Better late than never. The education has to continue but we also do not want to compromise with the government’s safety protocols for school at this point,” shares Ganesh.

Even though the schools have partially opened to ensure that learning continues, it is not without challenges and significant health risks. The implementation of safety protocols is complicated by the level of awareness in communities, availability of masks, and access to the right information. At this time, the teachers have to be more than teachers to ensure that the learning continues while also ensuring children’s health and safety. Teach For Nepal Fellows, continue to learn, adapt to the new demands, and lead solutions in schools and community. 

Suruchi Shahi completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Biological Science from Asian University for Women (AUW), Bangladesh and is currently teaching English in Janak Secondary School in Bagmati rural municipality, Lalitpur. Her co-Fellow Ganesh Basnet completed his Master's in Biotechnology from Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and is currently teaching science along with Suruchi.

Join Suruchi and Ganesh along with 135 other Teach For Nepal Fellows who are creating and impact even during these uncertain times.

Teach For Nepal is accepting application for the year 2021.

Apply now HERE.

*Rojan is the communications intern at TFN

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