E-Pustakalaya Yearly Maintanence

The E-Pustakalaya team has planned to start the new year by introducing new features to our website and upgrading much of our system. Some of these features are easily noticeable by users while, some will be running in the background (I don’t want to ruin the surprise but we are hoping that it is what our users want.).

With the constant expansion of our content and features it is only natural that our system would require further upgrades. We want to make sure that these changes will appear on Jan 1st hence, we will be closing down our regular service for a week (26-31 Dec). This year we have had a lot of feedback from our users most of them have provided us with suggestions about certain features that would add to the overall user experience. We value the feedback we get and we will be trying to include all these features and much more by Jan 1st.

This festive season as Nepalis celebrate Christmas, Tol Lhosar, Tamu Lhosar and the start of Year 2012 we hope our maintenance work will not dampen the holiday spirit.

Wishing and thanking all our users the very best we leave knowing that we will see you all at the start of 2012!!!

Learn English Kids

OLE Nepal recently signed an agreement with the British Council to host ‘Learn English Kids (LE Kids)’ interactive software in the E-Pustakalaya. LE Kids teaches fundamentals of the English language to children and adults through the use of audio visual effects and flash animations.  In this regard, it is similar to OLE Nepal’s E-Paath activities, but the scope of LE Kids is not qualified to any curriculum. The partnership has expanded the reach of LE Kids to nearly 3400 students in 34 schools spread across ten districts in Nepal where OLE Nepal has implemented ICT-integrated classes using the OLPC model. By integrating the LE Kids in the digital library hosted in local servers, schools no longer require Internet connectivity to benefit from these activities. OLE Nepal has always emphasized the need for quality learning materials like LE Kids in order to realize a meaningful impact on children’s learning through computers. By making these activities freely available to everyone, the British Council has done a great service to students and learners who otherwise would have been deprived of this great tool to improve their English language skills.

LE Kids provides its users with a multitude of options such as solving puzzles, painting, reading, playing games and listening to songs. All of these choices enable people to learn day to day English. This can be something as simple as knowing English terms for food items sold at shopping centres or teaching comprehension skills with its various read and solve quizzes.

LE Kids also contains two person general knowledge quizzes. These quizzes allow healthy competition among children, teach children (and adults) interesting facts about our changing world and also enable and encourage kids to share their computers. This will be very useful for students in rural schools where even with the generous numbers of XO laptops provided by OLE Nepal there is a need to share. Some of the quiz questions also explain why an answer is incorrect. For example a question regarding the largest lake in the world has as an incorrect option the deepest lake in the world, lake Baikal. Thus, even while answering incorrectly children can learn a new fact as well as understand that there are differences between similar concept words such as ‘large’ and ‘deep’.

My favourite section in LE Kids is the Short Story section. The user has fifty two stories to choose from. Apart from being able to read along with the stories some of them are also interactive. The ‘Spycat’ story for example allows the children to solve the clues that Spycat discovers. This technique allows children to remain engaged with the story and not lose focus.

We can say with certainty that both students and teachers will greatly benefit from LE Kids activities as content to build English language skills is scarce. One can access LE Kids from the E-Pusatkalaya homepage. It is conveniently located in the upper right hand panel of the homepage under the title ‘अंग्रेजी भाषा सिकौँ’ (‘Learn English Kids’ in our English interface). Any one who has tried LE Kids will find it fun and appealing to the intellect.

YA Literature Workshop (Phase I), Nagarkot

On 4th and 5th February 2011 OLE Nepal organised a writer’s workshop to create Young Adult (YA) novels for Nepali youths. The two day workshop took place in Nagarkot Farmhouse, Nagarkot and had twenty-one participants. The workshop was facilitated and moderated by OLE Nepal’s E-Pustakalaya advisers Churamani Bandhu, Dhurva Ghimire, Geeta Keshary, Hiranya Kumari Pathak, Rambabu Subedi and Vinaya Kasajoo. Prof. Dr Mahadev Awasti representing the National Academy’s Children’s literature wing was also present as a member of the Editorial team. The rest of the participants were young aspiring authors who had mainly written for children and occasionally tried writing for adults.

View to inspire the writers from Nagarkot Farmhouse

As Young Adult literature is a new genre in the world of Nepali literature, the workshop began with the accepted definition of the genre in foreign countries then we discussed what Youth meant in the Nepali context and encouraged a colloquial understanding of our target audience. After summarising the materials OLE Nepal had collected during the seminar on 22nd December (http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/date/2011/01), a slide show presentation of newspaper articles highlighting problems and concerns facing YAs in Nepal was shown.

After discussing several famous YA novels a brain storming exercise was conducted where each participant recalled their adolescence and re-counted a moment in their life which was symbolic of being a YA. Many of the experience involved having suicidal thoughts due to low exam grades (grades being hidden due to tuition not being paid in time), going through a rebellious phase where one starts experimenting with drugs or steals a library book, tales of teenage love and heart break and even a memory of sexual exploitation. These memories were so lucid that they could be turned into short stories all on their own. Another point that these stories proved was that though times have changed, lot of the challenges faced by adolescents today remain the same at its core.

Facilitator Vinaya Kasajoo

Later after lunch participants were shown video clips of R. K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. The Outsiders is generally considered the first YA English novel after the genre had been clearly defined. While the Malgudi Days has a protagonist slightly younger than what is widely accepted as the correct age of the major protagonist in YA genre, it was shown to better understand how characters would look like in a South Asian setting. Further discussions were carried out on how these novels developed the nature of a first person narrator being an adolescent and how this adds authenticity to the genre of YA literature. Finally, the participants broke up into small groups and discussed what themes would be appropriate for their novels. Some of the authors also used the XO laptop to do some reading and visualise how their finished material would look like inside the little laptop.

Ganesh Ghimire of OLE Nepal introducing E-Pustakalaya

Having had a whole night to organise their thoughts, next day brought about a remarkable number of written stories and ideas. Character development, plot lines, style and tones were also discussed. Importantly, constructive ideas were presented to convert the abundant short stories into a larger, coherent novel. Creating a YA novel is vital as there are lots of shorts for young adults to read. However, it is only a novel which can steadily depict the changes and challenges an adolescent faces and teach YAs how to better navigate through these obstacles. This concept of ‘safe landing’ is vital for any work to be considered part of YA genre.

Setting up Projector and XO’s

Apart from having an adolescent as the main protagonist we expect to see the entire spectrum of fiction depicted by the participating authors. In concluding phase I of the workshop the participants were set a target of writing around 100 pages of literary material before the next phase of the workshop. With the shorts discussed the qualitative aspect of the work is in no doubt but a quantitative outcome will only be seen during the next phase.

Phase I of the workshop was highly productive in terms of inspiring the participating writers to want to write for Young Adults, brainstorming themes for their work and making certain that a good support system was created for the participants. Phase II of the workshop will occur in two months time where we hope to read some riveting stories.

Young Adult’s Literature: Seminar


As mentioned in an earlier post (http://blog.olenepal.org/index.php/archives/377), OLE Nepal has started the initiative to create content suitable for Young Adults. As a first step, a seminar was organized on the 22nd December, 2010 in Kathmandu to discuss the various issues, problems, and challenges faced by young adults in everyday life. The seminar was attended by eminent authors, artists, teachers, students, social workers, parents and others related to the literary field.

The program began with OLE Nepal’s Founder and Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya welcoming the guests and giving a brief introduction on OLE Nepal’s pioneering activities in ICT-integrated education. This was followed by a short demonstration of the digital library, E-Pustakalaya. Then Prof. Churamani Bandhu, a prominent writer and a member of OLE Nepal’s digital library advisory panel, presented a paper on the state of young-adult literature in Nepal. This was followed by another panel member and prolific author, Mr. Vinaya Kasajoo, shedding light on the importance of young-adult literature, as well as on various issues such as youth psychology, emotional state, and socio-psycho-economic factors affecting the youth of today. Then the floor was opened to all participators to share their thoughts on what the writers should address on this new genre of literature.

Founder and Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya welcoming guests

Mr. Ganesh Ghimire describing features of E-Pustakalaya.

All participants agreed that there is a dire need for literature content that is created for young adults. Several participants suggested that topics such as one’s growing sexuality and experience with drug usage during adolescence should be addressed in stark contrast to the traditional approach in Nepali society of not discussing such issues. Many youths today are addicted to drugs such as marijuana, brown sugar, lsd, sniffing glue (huffing glue) and acid. This has come about due to consumer goods such as glue being easily available in the market and pharmaceutical products being sold without prescriptions.

The older generation seem to have been caught unaware of this development. They tend to regard cough medicines as only medicine and do not recognise the danger of their children ingesting such pharmaceutical drugs in large quantities. While Young Adults tend to be aware of a drugs ability to get them high they do not understand the dangers that come along with ingesting products which is easily found in their household medicine cabinets. Regarding sexuality, participants opined that since girls discover that their physical changes occur faster than that of boys their age, it is important to make girls aware that such changes are not unnatural. Without much information nor adults who they can turn to for answers, girls are more likely to be introverted as well as become victims of bullying and eve teasing. These changes, coupled with the existent gender discrimination girls face in Nepal, means that adolescence is the most difficult period for a girl to come out of without being mentally and emotionally scarred.

Prof. Dr. Churamani Bandu presenting his working paper

As marginalised genders’ get empowered it is also important that we prevent violent backlashes against them. Young Adult literature should deal with complicated issues such as third gender and importantly how they fit into our society. YA literature is a new genre thus, it has the capability to break away from the traditional boy-girl relationship or the old concept of what it is to be a woman or a man. It was also made clear that while presenting such social issues, literature should create an atmosphere which is not too far from reality. Old authors may not understand how new technologies and greater access to consumer goods have affected today’s youth. New age problems such as cyber bullying, perils of amateur pornography and sharing others’ private information on social networks need to be kept in mind.

Mr. Vinaya Kasajoo moderating the seminar.

Others pointed out that there is a real need for historical fiction. Many young adults struggle with identity crisis; on the one hand they believe they are adults, yet adults around them treat them as children. This coupled with a lack of historical knowledge tend to have negative affect on teen aspirations and spirits. Few teachers present in the seminar felt that knowledge of historical figures should be depicted in the literature so that young-adult readers not only feel a sense of patriotism, but also have proper role models they can look up to. Further, such historical content will help put the achievements of young adults in perspective.

Participants of the Young Adult Literature Seminar

Many of the social workers present pointed out that teenagers tend to be rebellious by nature. They tend to commit illegal acts by making graffiti in public areas, using firecrackers and attempting other acts of vandalism. This type of rebellion is caused by their frustration at not being taken seriously by adults in authority. It has been found that a well reasoned response go further than just telling teenagers what it is they can and can’t do. In this way literature should allow them to better deal with these emotions and show them alternative paths where they could direct these energy for constructive purposes.

The information and suggestions collected at the seminar will be used in the young-adult literature writing workshop that will soon be organized by OLE Nepal.

Nepali Young Adult’s Literature: Content Creation Project

OLE Nepal has started an ambitious project to create content relevant to Young Adult (YA) in Nepali literature. Over the span of two years we spent collecting and archiving work of Nepali literature, we realized that there was a real dearth of literary materials for YAs between the ages of eleven and eighteen. After a number of discussions on this topic, E-Pustakalaya’s Advisory Panel met on November 30, 2010 at OLE Nepal office to plan the content creation process to meet the literary needs of teenagers in Nepal.



E-Pustakalaya Advisory Panel meeting to discuss Young Adult literature workshop

From L to R: Bishwambhar Chanchal, Vinaya Kasajoo, Geeta Keshary, Churamani Bandhu, Rambabu Subedi and (not seen Dhruva Ghimire)

The panel decided that we need to better understand the social and psychological issues relevant to Nepali youth before starting the content creation process. OLE Nepal will be organizing a day-long seminar on December 22, 2010 at the Russian Culture Centre to discuss the areas that should be addressed by this project. With our target audience narrowed down to students who have just finished their School Leaving Certificate exams (grade 10), we hope that the literary that will eventually be produced will address key social issues regarding this challenging period in a teen’s life.

The seminar will be attended by authors, illustrators, teachers, authors and students. Two papers, one on the importance of YA literature in Nepal and another one on current styles and popular techniques used in YA literature around the world, will be presented by Prof. Churamani Bandu and Mr. Vinaya Kasajoo respectively. After the paper presentations, participating teachers and students will discuss their real life problems while dealing with or being an adolescent. We believe this preliminary seminar will provide the necessary literary spark and base to aspiring authors present at the seminar. They will then be able to bring these ideas with them to the writer’s workshops conducted at a future date.