E-Pustakalaya Advisory Panel

The E-Pustakalaya team met with the E-Pustakalaya Advisory Panel for the second time on July 12, 2010.

Some very interesting ideas transpired. On the issue of copyright, E-Pustakalaya was advised to allow exclusive licenses according to the wishes of authors and publishers apart from the general creative commons license E-Pustakalaya uses for materials already available in the public domain. It was also decided that the E-Pustakalaya web page would have a section that features information on Authors/Publishers and their works, which will further promote their contributions to the digital library.

Also given the dearth of adolescent/young adult literature in Nepali, OLE Nepal will be one of the first organisations to hold a writers’ workshop targeted specifically towards the creation of such literature. The workshop will include introductions by child psychologists, teachers and parents, to help suggest themes and issues relevant to young adults today. This will be followed by a multi-day workshop headed by the E-Pustakalaya Advisory Panel members. The resulting works, if up to mark, will be published electronically on E-Pustakalaya.

The Advisory Panel members also presented their must have book lists for E-Pustakalaya. The library team was also advised to contact the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) who have produced a must have children’s literature list of their own consisting of some 50 titles. OLE Nepal is working on adding these works to the library.

Finally, OLE Nepal is moving ahead with plans to make audio books for its E-Pustakalaya. This is a niche that E-Pustakalaya being a digital library can easily fill and make available on a large scale. They will be useful for students at our programme schools as well as to Nepali parents around the world who are constantly looking for materials in Nepali so their children growing up abroad can still read, write and understand Nepali. The first audio books will be made with poems by Ram Babu Subedi and stories by Dhruva Ghimire, both prominent writers in the world of Nepali literature.


Curriculum Review Workshop

A two-day curriculum review workshop was held with officials from the Government of Nepal’s Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) at the International Club, Sanepa on June 11 and 12. The agenda for the workshop was to a) follow-up from an earlier discussion in February over creating detailed courses for the various subjects in each of the primary grades and b) review all new E-Paath software created by OLE Nepal.

The year-long courses that are being envisioned would act as guides to teachers on how to integrate the various different media available to them (E-Paath, textbooks and other interactive methods) to effectively impart knowledge to their wards. A sample (for Grade 3 English) has been partially completed and was shown to the CDC officials for feedback. In general, they were very satisfied with the structure and the efforts that had been made into making it easy to use, with symbols being used to make it effective but space-efficient. They felt using the same structure for Math and Nepali classes would also be effective.

The officials present then reviewed E-Paath activities within their own subject of specialty over a day and a half together with OLE Nepal’s curriculum development team. Feedback received was positive and our curriculum developers and software programmers will now take their feedback into consideration and make appropriate changes.

OLE Nepal Newsletter Mar-Apr 2010

OLE Nepal’s newsletter for Mar-Apr is now available. The newsletter intends to keep its readers uptodate on the organisation and its activities. The Mar-Apr issue includes latest updates and stories on how the names ‘E-Paati’ (XO) and ‘E-Paath’ (our interactive activities) came into being and how they illustrate what this project stands for; and on a new leadership component that has been added to the teacher training programme this year.

The full newsletter can be accessed at:

http://www.olenepal.org/ole_newsletter/OLENepalMarApr10.pdf

If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, please email newsletter@olenepal.org.

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.

E-Pustakalaya Initiatives

E-Pustakalaya has come a long way since its public launch in February 2009.

OLE Nepal has managed to build partnerships with contemporary Nepali writers of children and other literature and acquired a large number of their work for E-Pustakalaya. Two workshops were held, in April and in October 2009 at Martin Chautari, for writers. Those present included some of the most prominent writers in Nepali contemporary literature. A large number of authors have readily given their material to the library for free. Given the context of Nepal where reading books, aside from school books for kids, is hardly encouraged, the authors are hopeful that E-Pustakalaya will expand the reach of their books in Nepal and abroad and encourage more Nepalis to read.

With the same intention of expanding readership of Nepali and other literary work, OLE Nepal has joined forces with like-minded organisations with the aim to promote a healthy reading culture amongst children in Nepal through the establishment and expansion of physical and digital libraries in the country. OLE Nepal, together with Nepal Library Foundation (NLF), Help Nepal Network (HeNN), Room to Read, Kathmandu Valley Public Library, Prakash Community Library, CCS Italy, Children’s Community Library group, and READ Nepal have agreed in principle to work on four major areas to develop libraries all over Nepal– advocacy, training teachers and librarians, resource mobilisation, and ICT issues. This close collaboration amongst the various partners will help overcome hurdles in the fight against widespread illiteracy, and highlight the importance of reading culture and libraries in Nepal’s development. The group also plans to collectively attract the Nepal Government’s attention towards the importance of libraries and its importance in enlightening and developing a nation. OLE Nepal is the leader in Nepal in the development and deployment of digital libraries, and has developed a first of its kind education-centred digital library, E-Pustakalaya. OLE Nepal hopes to expand access to E-Pustakalaya and other reading resources in Nepal through this alliance.

OLE Nepal has also set up an advisory board for E-Pustakalaya. Given that E-Pustakalaya is not just a repository of any and all materials, but a specifically education-focused library, it was deemed necessary to have an advisory board to suggest worthy materials for addition as well as to review existing and other additions to make sure they fit OLE Nepal’s vision to create a unique education focused digital library. The first advisory board meeting took place on March 18, 2010.

OLE Nepal is fortunate to have the following notable personalities from Nepali literary circles on the E-Pustakalaya Advisory Board:

Bishwambhar Chanchal has been serving the Nepali literature scene for over four decades. He was President of Nepalese Society for Children’s Literature (NESCHIL) for several years. He has been bestowed with numerous awards some of which are Mainali Katha Puraskar, Rastriya Bal Sahitya Puraskar, Ratna Bal Puraskar, Nepal Bal Sahitya Samaj Puraskar.

Dr. Churamani Bandhu is an eminent linguist of the Nepali language, he is also the current chairman of the Nepali Folklore Society. The Tribhuvan University professor was recently honoured for his ongoing services towards Nepali literature during the hundredth birth anniversary of Laxmi Prasad Devkota.

Dhruva Ghimire is a renowned children’s author and a teacher of Nepali Language. His works such as Khuta Gaane Khel and Jeet Kasko Huncha have won the NESCHIL award for writing children’s literature.

Geeta Keshary was the first female Member Secretary of the Royal Nepal Academy. For writing over a dozen novels she has been bestowed with various awards such as Lok Priya Award, National Talent Award, Dharani Dhar Award and Gamki Basundhara Award.

Hiranya Kumari Pathak is the current Chief Editor of Nari Patrika and Mahila Chetana Maanch. For her numerous works in literature she has received some of the highest civilian honours which include Trishaktipaadh Chautho and Gorkha Dakshin Bahu Chautho.

Rambabu Subedi had his first poem published over forty years ago. Today he is the president of NESCHIL which hands out two annual awards for writing and illustration in children’s literature.

Vinaya Kasajoo is the current Chief Information Commissioner of the National Information Commission. He has written over 20 books in Nepali and is a strong proponent of spreading knowledge through the power of various mass media.

E-Pustakalaya can be accessed at www.pustakalaya.org. For more information on E-Pustakalaya please also visit: http://olenepal.org/e_pustakalaya.html

OLE Nepal Newsletter published

OLE Nepal has published its first bi-monthly email newsletter that intends to keep its readers uptodate on the organisation and its activities. It includes an introduction to OLE Nepal as well as updates on the recent visit by the Director General of the Department of Education to Dadeldhura and on the OLE Global Assembly. The full newsletter can be accessed at:

http://www.olenepal.org/ole_newsletter/OLENepalJanFeb10.pdf

Watch out for more newsletters in the future! The next newsletter will feature in detail the second round of deployment of E-Paatis (OLPC XO) laptops in Nepal.

If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, please email newsletter@olenepal.org.