An interview with our teaching resident — Shikha Dhakal

Supporting Program Schools in Baitadi

Baitadi cover

About the program

Three months ago, OLE Nepal launched it’s first ever Teaching with Technology Residency Program to support 15 primary schools that have started using digital learning materials in their classrooms. This year-long program engages 2 qualified and motivated young graduates to assist teachers to maximize the benefits from the wide range of digital resources made available at the schools. The Residents spent an entire month training at OLE Nepal office before heading to Baitadi in January 2017 to facilitate students and teachers in using technology effectively in the teaching-learning process.

One of the Teaching Residents, Shikha Dhakal, was a primary school teacher before joining this program. We sat with her to learn more about her experience and observations after completing the first round of support to all 15 schools.

Introducing Shikha:

Shikha joined OLE Nepal because sheshikha believes that technology is a powerful agent of change in the teaching-learning process. She brings 2 years of teaching experience to the Residency program; she was primary grade teacher in social studies at Santwona Memorial School before joining OLE Nepal. She has also volunteered on leadership seminars and workshops by Global Peace Youth Corps, and the National Federation of Youth NGO Nepal. Shikha has completed B.A. in Social Work from Santwona Memorial College.

Interview:

What were the major differences in teaching methods that you observed in Baitadi, compared to your time as a teacher in Kathmandu?

Shikha : My perspective towards education system in Nepal has totally changed after my visit as a Teaching Resident in Baitadi. Although comparing Baitadi with Kathmandu may not be fair, I did observe huge differences in teaching methods, perspective, learning environment etc, in Baitadi.                                                                     

I found teachers in Baitadi were qualified, active and dedicated to their duties. They gave high priority to their work despite their the hectic schedule. Although teachers fulfill their responsibilities and stay positive towards their duties, time management is one of the biggest issues in such rural areas where the schools are located in isolated areas far from their homes.

In terms of methodologies, they rely a lot on textbooks due to the lack of other teaching and learning resources. The teachers do try to use some group activities in classrooms; however, many schools struggle with insufficient number of teachers, which severely affect their workload.

With the existing interventions and support in different areas, in due time, teachers in Baitadi too can become as competent as the teachers in Kathmandu, and this will certainly help to bring the improvement of education status of the district.

How are the Teachers and schools using the digital learning resources in Baitadi?

Shikha : I believe every child should have access to quality resources and opportunities for learning, but the reality is that many children do not have easy access to quality learning resources.

Shikha guiding the students at Janachetna Primary School

Shikha guiding the students at Janachetna Primary School

I got an opportunity to assist teachers and students on using technology to provide quality educational materials in Baitadi, which in itself was quite an amazing experience. For the first time I realized the value of things that we often take for granted. It was great seeing teachers’ and students’ involvement, curiosity, and interest in learning through technology; it was something they had never dreamt of. The active participation of teachers and desire to learn something new by going beyond the hectic schedule was quite impressive. They performed as a trained facilitator to use the digital resources (laptops, E-Paath, E-Pustakalaya ) creatively while teaching.

It seems as they had long awaited for a miracle like this to happen. They changed their teaching methods to engage students in the classrooms. They now prepare lesson plans, children follow job charts regularly and so on. The activities they do in digital learning class are helping them to obtain grade and subject goals of education.

During your time in Baitadi, were there any interesting cases of teachers using E-Paath to explain concepts that students were struggling with?

Shikha : I remember the day Anjana and I were observing a class at Nagarchan Primary School in Mahakali. It was science class in grade 4 and the teacher was starting a lesson on one way and two way communication. Following her lesson plan, she the teacher asked questions to student to assess their knowledge on the topic. She asked the students to give two examples of one way communication, and a girl named Prapti quickly answered, radio and river. Prapti explained that the since the river always flows in one direction and does not return, it is one way communication. The teacher simply smiled and opened her E-Paath exercise and explained the whole lesson clearly.

Although it has only been 3 months into the Residency Program, do you think that the this immersive experience has been beneficial to you (personally and professionally)?

Shikha : Every twist and turn in life makes us brighter and better for the coming days. In these 3 months of being a part of OLE Nepal’s Teaching Residency program, I have experienced a lot of new things, faced and overcome several difficulties, hard situations, and challenges all of which have helped to strengthen my professional and personal resolve. The time that I spent in Baitadi helped me to realize that in every inch of sadness lies a foot of happiness, and even the simplest of times brings the grandest of pleasures.

For the first time ever I was far from my family. Though it was difficult to take a decision before, I have now learned that these chances often guide us to unexpected discoveries.

Personally and professionally I am glad to be a part of OLE Nepal. Those 60 days in Baitadi with new people, following their culture and tradition, were an immersive experience for me. I am definitely going to enjoy my next two visits back to Baitadi and meeting the people again, and I especially look forward to spending more time with the children there.

How did you feel about teaching with technology for the first time?

Shikha teaching students at

Shikha taking an E-Paath class at Janachetna Primary School

Shikha : Technology is one of the foremost agents to bring change in our teaching-learning process, while reducing the disparity in access to quality education. Similarly teachers are the key to bring change by framing young minds into critical thinkers and learners.

Having past experience as a teacher I found the technology-enhanced approach very interesting and effective for children than our traditional pedagogical methodologies.

How do you think the laptop program will be more effective in rural areas like Baitadi?

Shikha : In the context of Baitadi, there are children who aren’t able to get two good meals a day, and parents who feel ashamed for not being able to provide even the basic necessities for their children. In those communities, OLE Nepal’s laptop program provides them with the same opportunities as children in Kathmandu. One can’t imagine how glad they were feeling and their happiness while using laptops to learn. There were several challenges on economic, social, as well as technological aspects, including the roles of teachers and communities, but their desire to learn new things, their courage to face difficulties, and solving them strongly and intelligently was admirable.

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Students and teachers of Netrajyoti Primary School, with Shikha

The laptop program has helped teachers as well as children to gain extra knowledge in various local and global contexts. It has increased the learning habit in children, encouraged them to improve their quality in learning methods from the traditional rote-learning approach. And another interesting benefit of this program is, it has helped to increase the student’s attendance in schools. We have found that those students who used to come sporadically have now started to attend school regularly.

MORE PHOTOS

 

My Experience Using Digital Technology in Primary School

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Re-post of an article by Ambadatta Joshi, a teacher from one of our project schools in Bajhang.

January 25, 2016

Along with the new rising sun, there are new developments in science and technology. More than that in the sector of education, digital technology is being the focus for all the schools. All the students and guardians are attracted toward the school where there is the use of digital technology.

While telling my experience of learning basic letters of English and Nepali, I learned to read and write on ‘Dhulauto’ (a small wooden board with spread dust on it used to write with a little stick, erase and rewrite). My teacher used to catch my hand and get me to write the basic letters on the board. Gradually, I used ‘Kamero’ (made of white mud and water) and then ‘Khari’ (soft white stone) to write on pati (a wooden board). Gradually, I came to use ink that was developed by fermenting locally available particular tree leaves in boiling water and filtering with a piece of cotton cloth. The pen was made of Nigalo (a particular type of bamboo found in the hills and mountains). For writing, I used to use Nepali paper locally made because my father used to develop it at home out of a kind of bush plant to write horoscope of people. Nowadays, these pens and paper are not utilised in the schools.

Those days, students were quite afraid of English teacher with no reason. They used to be rather happy when the English teacher was absent. In English lessons, we used to write the pronunciation of all the words under the line in Nepali so that we could ready easily and correctly. This was the situation and feeling toward English language and English teacher when I was a student in a primary school.

Nowadays, where there is the use of digital technology in English period, it is entirely different than those days. In my own school, OLE Nepal has provided 42 XO-laptops (E-pati) for the students that we use to teach English as well as other subjects. The lessons and activities those are available in E-pati are designed to obtain class-wise and subject-wise goals of education. There are audio-visual materials that help teachers and students in teaching and learning activities.

We have e-library (local server) that contains over six thousand digital books in Nepali and English. Those reference books help the children as well as teachers gain extra knowledge about various local and global activities. Even the high school and campus near the school take advantage of this school e-library. This has developed good habits of reading in the children.

Nowadays, the teachers feel abnormal without digital technology in their teaching and learning in our school. I can say that the schools which have got this technology are lucky. In my case, this has brought a huge difference in teaching English. The technology has cultivated energy in my profession. This has provided more opportunities for the children to practice their lessons and given relief for me in the classroom. When the children have some problems, I facilitate them in their activities. Since we got this technology, this has decreased the burden of gathering several teaching materials and saved teachers’ time as it contains several audio-visual materials for teaching and learning. The animated pictures in e-paath (an application that includes course books) have decreased my unnecessary lecture in the classroom. Various videos about wild animals, the universe, internal body parts, baby growth, development of plan out of the seed, etc. have made classroom teaching and learning very effective. Use of the technology has developed a mind of both the children and the teachers. This has become very supportive in engaging the students in the absence of a teacher in the school.

The technology in the school has gradually made the guardians feel ownership of the school’s property. Their positive response toward the change in teaching and learning with the new technology has made the teachers more responsible. They feel pride that their children are learning with new technology which they had never seen before three years. The digital technology has encouraged them to further develop the school.

The use of new technology has increased the number of students and decreased the drop-outs from the school. The children learn singing, dancing, playing games and other activities by watching videos on the devices. They freely select various digital books like poetry, stories, etc. for reading or drawing pictures. The most important aspect the technology has developed in the children is learning interest.

I wish all other schools will get this technology to bring change in their teaching and learning activities. Otherwise, this will increase digital divide between the schools and children. In the end, the teachers should be well-trained to use such digital technology in their instructional activities to improve teaching and learning and to achieve educational goals.

The author: Ambadatta Joshi teaches at Shree Kalika Primary School, Sunkuda, Bajhang

The Blog-post has been retrieved from ELT Magazine : Nepal’s First Digital English Language Teachers’ Magazine.

Transforming learning one lesson at a time

For this teacher in Baitadi, a laptop is more valuable than gold!!

By, Kalpana Rimal (Trainer) & Anjana Shrestha (Teaching Resident)

Ms. Indra Pokharel, a math teacher at Saraswati Primary School in Maharudra, was one of the 26 participants at the training held in Patan, Baitadi on September 14-20, 2016. The trainers were pleasantly surprised when she arrived at the training carrying her own laptop, although it was not a requirement. When Indra learned that her school was selected for the digital literacy program, she acquired a laptop through the generosity of her brother, who had initially wanted to buy her gold jewelry. Indra insisted that he buy her a laptop instead of the gold jewelry.

Indra

Indra Pokharel conducting a practice class at initial teacher training in September 2016.

But it was not just the laptop that made her stand out in the group. She was eager to absorb everything she could and was always the first one present at the training hall in the morning. She was an active participant in group discussions, and raised many pertinent questions on student management and computer-enabled teaching strategies. She was a quick learner, and prepared the integrated lesson plans very well. She was keen to learn about digital educational content, E-Paath, and spent a lot of time exploring books that she had always wanted to read on the digital library, E-Pustakalaya. By the third day of training, she was doing everything on her own with ease.

During the closing session, Indra shared that she had learned more than just the computer basics, but had gained the skills to plan and deliver computer-enabled lessons in her classes. She added that these enhanced lessons will develop her students well and make them as competent as students who have easy access to libraries and online content in the urban areas.             

It is always a big challenge even for experienced and motivated teachers to shift from traditional pedagogical methodologies to the ICT-enabled teaching-learning approach. It demands a lot of time and effort to make that shift in an effective manner.  The main objective of the training was to provide teachers with a better understanding of how ICT can be used to enhance teaching and learning process. The case of Indra shows that the enthusiasm in teachers towards ICT in education and their commitment to apply it in teaching can improve quality of education in schools of remote areas.

About 2-3 months after the initial training, OLE Nepal’s trainers visit the schools for the in-school training whereby they spend two days at each school to observe laptop-integrated classes, provide feedback, answer questions, hold discussions with teachers and meet with parents and community members. Our training team was eager to find out how Indra was doing when they visited Saraswoti Primary School on December 20-21. That day, Indra was teaching addition of fractions in grade 5.

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Indra Pokharel explaining the concept of addition of fractions to Grade 5 students, before they start activities on laptops, in December 2016.

Indra followed her lesson plan and started by explaining the concept on the whiteboard, and then explained the method of simplification. She had the students do a small pop quiz before having the students explore the concept through the digital activity in the laptops. She walked around checking how the students were doing, and helped students who were stuck and answered questions from them. She then completed the class by summarizing the day’s lesson and had students answer questions related to fraction addition.

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Indra conducting laptop integrated class during in-school training.

During discussions, other teachers mentioned that as focal teacher, Indra was always helpful when they faced issues in laptop-integrated classes. Since E-Paath has been installed in her personal laptop, she goes through the digital activities regularly to prepare her lesson plans at home. In addition to encouraging students to read books and other resources on the offline digital library that OLE Nepal has installed in her school, she herself accesses E-Pustakalaya regularly to read books and materials on professional development. She found these materials of great help in her preparation for the upcoming civil service examinations.

Teachers are the key to bringing positive change in the classrooms by molding young minds into critical thinkers and learners. At OLE Nepal, we work with teachers in remote areas to equip them with quality resources and strengthen their capacities so that children are provided a meaningful and fun learning experience. We are encouraged by teachers like Indra who show that it is possible to transform learning in rural classrooms one lesson at a time.

Fundraisers 2016!

OLE Nepal is grateful to friends and well-wishers who have supported our efforts to provide access to quality education to children in remote parts of Nepal. Their support have been critical in raising funds to buy durable laptops that we have been deploying to schools in Bajhang and Baitadi districts.


OLE Nepal Benefit Luncheon 2016  

SelectedRam Khattri Chettri and Karen James hosted the annual OLE Nepal Benefit Event at their home in Middlebury, Indiana on November 12, 2016. As in previous years, the communities of Middlebury and neighboring Goshen came together and contributed generously towards our cause. The event raised over 20,000 USD for laptops for children in far west Nepal. Their generous donation will go a long way in helping us reach hundreds of students in remote schools of Nepal. Thank you Ram and Karen for your continuous support!


Sushma’s 100 Miles for 100s of Smiles

On December 10, Sushma KC Manandhar ran 100 miles (160 km) at the  Daytona 100 Ultramarathon  to raise funds for the children of far-western Nepal. Sushma dedicated this amazing feat to something that is close to her heart – quality education. “The DAYTONA 100 course is North Florida’s first point-to-point ultramarathon, spanning over a dozen cities, four counties, and stretching from Atlantic Beach (Jacksonville area) 100 miles south to Ponce Inlet, a gem of a town located on the southern tip of a secluded peninsula, just 10 miles south of Daytona.”

Sushma collage

Photo Courtesy: Heather Davenport/Ignite Health and Fitness

OLE Nepal would like to congratulate Sushma for completing the Daytona 100 and thank her for dedicating the run for children of Nepal. Her campaign has helped raise over 3,000 USD for laptops for children in far western Nepal.


School Life in Baitadi : A Photo Story

By, Shishir Pandey (Program Coordinator) & Anjana Shrestha  (Teaching Resident)

A aphoto story about daily school life of students at our program schools in Baitadi, as captured through the lenses of our team of trainers during the in-school training program. Two teams travelled to 15 schools spread across the district. We’ve selected a few photos from a 21-day field visit in December 2016.

 

 

 

Right: Most of the program schools do not have access to the road. Getting to all the schools meant walking anywhere between 3 to 7 hours, mostly on rough mountains trails.


Morning Assembly at Gopanchal Primary School, Jhusil

Morning Assembly at Gopanchal Primary School, Jhusil

At the morning assembly, students are lined up by their grade, as the teacher holds up a megaphone mic to the E-Paati laptop speaker to play the National Anthem of Nepal streamed from the digital library E-Pustakalaya.


 

It is cold indoors… let’s study outside in the sun.

Cold weather and inadequate indoor lighting urges the teacher, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Chand, to take his grade 2 students outside. Sitting on stones, class is resumed under the warmth of the winter sun.

Cold weather and inadequate indoor lighting urges the teacher, Mr. Krishna Bahadur Chand, to take his grade 2 students outside. Sitting on stones, class is resumed under the warmth of the winter sun.


 

Grade 4 students learning math on laptops

Teacher from Netra Jyoti Primary School, Melauli, teaching her students through E-Paati laptop. According to her, the best part of teaching through E-Paati is that it allows each students to learn at their own pace.

Teacher from Netra Jyoti Primary School, Melauli, teaching her students through E-Paati laptop. According to her, the best part of teaching through E-Paati is that it allows each students to learn at their own pace.


Laptop Integrated class in Janachetna Primary School, Gangapur

Students were will into their second month of E-Paati/laptop-integrated classes in this school

Students were in their third week of E-Paati/laptop-integrated classes in this school


 

In-School Training : Observing E-Paati Class

OLE Nepal’s Senior Training Manager, Tika Raj Karki, observing laptop integrated class at Nanigad Primary School in Nagarjun. Trainers from OLE Nepal visited each program school to observe and provide feedback regarding their integration of digital content.

OLE Nepal’s Senior Training Manager, Tika Raj Karki, observing laptop integrated class at Nanigad Primary School in Nagarjun. Trainers from OLE Nepal visited each program school to observe and provide feedback regarding their integration of digital content.


 

WASH your hands before you eat!

Students at Singapur Primary School, Sungada washing their hands before eating. Along with the School Meal Program, UN World Food Programme is also running WASH Program in most of the schools in far-western districts, including Baitadi.

Students at Singapur Primary School, Sungada washing their hands before eating. Along with the School Meal Program, UN World Food Programme is also running WASH Program in most of the schools in far-western districts, including Baitadi.


 

Lunch Time

Students enjoying their plate of nutritious ‘suji’. UN World Food Programme provides school meals to remote schools across the far-west region of Nepal under their “Food For Education” program.

Students enjoying their plate of nutritious ‘suji’. UN World Food Programme provides school meals to remote schools across the far-west region of Nepal under their “Food For Education” program.


 

Back to class

After the healthy lunch, students are happy to go back to learning new things.

After the healthy lunch, students are happy to go back to learning new things.


 

One laptop per child

Students learn best, when they learn at their own pace .

Students learn best, when they learn at their own pace .


 

Community Interaction Meeting at Nagarchan Primary School, Mahakali

After the training, our team also conducted community interaction meetings at each school. These meetings were a very good opportunity  to understand community involvement in the program. Members representing School Management Committee (SMC) and Parent Teacher Assoc iation (PTA) also attended the meeting

After the training, our team also conducted community interaction meetings at each school. These meetings were a very good opportunity to understand community involvement in the program. Members representing School Management Committee (SMC) and Parent Teacher Assoc iation (PTA) also attended the meeting


 

Padai Mela (Education Fair) at Chamalpur Primary School, Balara 

OLE Nepal’s Senior Training Manager, Tika Raj Karki, explaining about the laptop program with members of the Balara community at the school’s education fair.

OLE Nepal’s Senior Training Manager, Tika Raj Karki, explaining about the laptop program with members of the Balara community at the school’s education fair.


 

School building design endorsed by DUDBC

One of OLE Nepal current projects is the reconstruction of 5 schools in Gorkha, that were damaged during the April 2015 earthquake. After site selections, community interactions, and approval for the project from all district and national level authorities, the building designs were prepared and finalised.

OLE Nepal’s Gorkha Schools Reconstruction Project’s structural design was then approved by the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), meeting all the building codes for safe school construction. DUDBC has also endorsed the design to the Department of Education. Now, Nepal’s Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) own the school designs, and any organisation interested in school construction are able to use the building design. The school reconstruction project designs can be accessed HERE

E-Paath & E-Pustakalaya on Department of Education’s Notice to Schools

 Newspaper Announcement

Nepal’s Department of Education (DoE), under the direction of Nepal’s Ministry of Education (MoE), publishes national education related news, notices and all important information on the national newspaper, Gorkhapatra, as a means to disseminate information to the District Education Offices, resource centers and schools, as well as students and teachers, across Nepal. On November 16, 2016, Nepal’s Department of Education published a notice to all ‘students, teachers, schools and District Education Offices’ of Nepal endorsing OLE Nepal’s digital content — E-Paath, and digital library — E-Pustakalaya. The notice urged all parties addressed to commence the use of all interactive digital content created and curated by OLE Nepal, in partnership with Nepal’s Department of Education, Curriculum Development Center (CDC), and National Center for Education Development (NCED), by visiting the digital library website at www.pustakalaya.org.Newspaper all