Exploring the possibility of expansion to Solukhumbu

A team consisting of representatives from OLE Nepal, the Department of Education (DoE) and Himalayan Health and Environment Services (HHES) visited the remote mountainous district of Solukhumbu to study the feasibility of expanding the OLPC project in the district. During the three-day visit from March 18 to 21, the team reached seven schools in Phaplu, Salleri, Garma, Khoriya, and Jaidu, and held an interaction programme for local stakeholders at the District Education Office located in the district headquarter, Salleri. The DoE team was led by Deputy Director Mr. Baburam Poudel who is also the government’s OLPC focal person, and included Mr. Arjun Aryal and Ms. Sharmila Pant. HHES was represented by its Chairperson Mr. Ngima Tendup Sherpa while the OLE Nepal team consisted of Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya, Director for Government Relations Mr. Rajeev Adhikari and Network Engineer Mr. Basanta Shrestha.

All the schools and local communities showed a lot of enthusiasm in launching the programme in the district and pledged full support and participation in making it successful. Compared to schools in most other remote districts, many schools in the vicinity of Salleri were much better equipped when it came to technology. Most of the schools had at least one computer and a printer. This has greatly helped enhance familiarity with technology amongst teachers and students. One of the schools in Phaplu had even started to use education software to teach science in grade 6. Most schools in the vicinity of Salleri had sought help from individuals and organisations to purchase the computers and printers. Furthermore, these schools also had one or two teachers who were good at basic computer operations.

The schools were assessed based on teacher capacity, local community support, physical infrastructure, networking possibility, and the availability of electricity. OLE Nepal’s network engineer Mr. Basanta Shrestha took coordinates of all the schools in order to design a plan to connect them using wireless technology. He also inquired on possible means to connect the schools to the Internet.

Thanks to the nearby micro-hydro plant, there were only two hours of loadshedding per day in the areas that we visited, which was a relief for those of us used to 12 hours of loadshedding in Kathmandu. However, we did not get to visit nor gather information of schools in more remote areas of the district. The general consensus among the visiting team was to stick to more accessible schools for the first year of the project, and then expand to more remote areas in subsequent years.

The programme in Solukhumbu will be implemented by OLE Nepal in collaboration with DoE, UN World Food Program, and HHES.

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