The afternoon of January 18, saw me and Peter seated in a Buddha Air Flight to Dhangadhi. Our final destination was Chainpur, Bajhang. We had to deploy XO laptops and E-Pustakalaya server in 4 schools and subsequently, provide support to the schools. Since we were there primarily for support, I would be talking solely about it on my blog. But for a good read, I encourage you to read Bishnu dai’s blog to know about deployment elsewhere on this site
The first school we went to was Bhawani Primary School Luyanta. Considering its distance to Chainpur (headquarter of Bajhang) the walk to this school had been relatively easy. However, given our lack of physical works over the past few months, we felt tired very easily. Few minutes of rest became obligatory in between our hikes. First day of our two-day visit was dedicated for teachers. We started off by iterating important points, such as basic networking, registering the XOs with the server, and the basics of XO and E-Paath. Since these had already been covered in the basic training, we decided to focus more on other significant things. We talked about E-Pustakalaya, highlighting its features and navigating through them. It was around 1:30 pm when we were done with the session. We could not resist but run right for our lunch.
Later that day, we mainly talked about common problems regarding XOs, such as malfunctioning keys, display problems, XOs running slower than usual, and how to solve the problems. After explaining the remedial verbally, we conducted hands-on sessions for them to try it out. It was a fruitful day ovefinrall.
After our breakfast next day, we headed out to school. Like yesterday, we were resting when Mrs. Anita Sharma, one of the teachers approached us reporting some problem she had encountered. We were glad to see teachers following up on the training sessions, which clearly indicated their interest and dedication towards the program. As I was resolving the issue, students gathered around. They were flooding me with questions about the XO. I could clearly see the spark of desperation and excitement in their eyes to use the computer. Unable to hold our patience, we cut short our resting period and then began teaching the students. Since they were completely new to the XOs, we had to start with the basics like opening the lid of the XO, switching it on, using the touch pad, opening and closing applications, etc. During this time, I was continuously amazed to see how quickly they caught up. Furthermore, it was more pleasing to see them trying to new things, exploring more and more.
Once done with the session for students, we went on to fill the baseline survey form. Prior to this, we had not studied the form in detail and were not aware about the length of it. Contrary to our assumption, it took us nearly an hour and a half to fill them. We had to make series of calculation to find the average of class attendance and examination results. Performing the calculations was not difficult but time consuming. Fortunately, we also managed to meet with the chairperson of the school management committee. We informed him about the program and its potential benefits in improving student’s learning experiences. He was very positive about the program and assured that he would do his best to take the program further.
Bal Bikas Primary School located in Khetkot was our next destination. The travel to the school was challenging because we had to walk for about two and half hours along the narrow and uphill paths. Also, the heavy weight of our bags added to our woes. Nevertheless, we managed to reach our destination without any problems. Immediately after reaching the school, we had our lunch. It greatly helped us overcome our fatigue and energized us for the day. The works that we had to do in all the schools was roughly the same, and as in Bhawani, the session at Bal Bikas also went smoothly. Since Chainpur was far from this school, we decided to stay there that night to prevent unnecessary time loss. To ensure that everything goes well, some teachers also stayed with us. Besides giving us company, they used this as an opportunity to learn more about the XO and its usage. The stay in the school also gave us an opportunity to closely interact with the teachers and learn more about Bajhang.
After two nights stay, we headed for Durga Primary School, Galechaur. In terms of distance & location, it was the farthest of the schools we went. But since we were going from Bal Bikas, we had to walk for about 45 minutes only. Although the journey was relatively short, walking along the slippery path was tough. Small amounts of water flowing alongside had frozen, causing slippery pathways where our feet had slid many times. However, on reaching the school we experienced some delightful sight. Unlike the previous schools, this school had resumed after the winter vacation. Thus, we got a chance to teach more number of students. We began the training for the teachers. But unlike the previous times where both I and Peter conducted the sessions, this time only one person took charge of the training. Meanwhile, the other person would go to the classes and interact with the students. For the next day, the number of students we were teaching increased in number. We simply decided to divide them into two separate groups. Although it took us more time, we were glad that more number of students had got first-hand experience of using the XOs.
Our next and final school was Jana Jagriti Primary School, Bhandar where carrying out the duties was quite easy. Thanks to the lower number of students and their abilities to grasp things quickly. At Jana Jagriti, we stayed in Gorakh sir’s place, one of the school teachers. It was around 3:30 when we were done with our work and at that very moment, both of our feelings were jumbled up. We were glad that the support visit had completed smoothly, but on the other hand, we were sad that our chance to travel and learn came to an end.
For me, the visit was a great learning experience. Personally speaking, the time I spent at Bajhang helped me get a close understanding of the district and its lifestyle. Professionally, the visit greatly enhanced my leadership qualities. Since there were not any senior members at the field, I and Peter had to carry out the entire program. This taught me various lessons on effective planning and proper communication. As an ardent traveler and someone who believes technology as an agent of change in Nepal, I do look forward to being part of similar visits in the near future.