Last week, our team members had visited Khokana and Bungamati areas to observe the situation of the people, particularly of the children. After understanding the critical environment of the area, our team decided to carry on the relief effort to help children engage in learning. OLE Nepal in collaboration with Loo Niva Child Concern Group is taking forward the relief effort at their child Friendly Spaces (CFS). Volunteers from OLE Nepal and Loo Niva oversees the session and helps children invest good time in learning.
Following are the photos taken during the sessions:
OLE Nepal team members providing orientation to volunteers from Loo Niva on using the XO laptop.
Many children from near by area come to this CFS during the day.
Children eagerly waiting for their laptop session.
They seem more comfortable on the floor while exploring what’s in the laptop.
Peter coaching children on using the laptops.
Investing their time in quality learning.
Happy faces 😀
Learning in groups.
Children having fun time at the CFS. Teachers and volunteers are actively involved in engaging children in many interactive activities.
Sabita and Sawal started setting up the laptops and slowly passed each one around. All the children in the room seemed very excited and happy to see the green tool placed in front of them. And that was exactly what we wanted – to see them children smile and enjoy their time amidst the fearful situation.
They sat in a group of three and started trying out different activities and lessons from E-paath. Children are unsure when their schools will resume but these sessions definitely help them spend their time in quality learning. OLE Nepal is conducting these relief efforts in different places. Following photo series show kids involved in exploring the educational tool at Kirtipur. We are available in two centers of Kirtipur; Navajyoti Primary School and Janasewa Higher Secondary School between 11 to 3.
Navajyoti School is one of the centers where we are conducting our relief efforts for kids.
Volunteers Sabita and Sawal setting up the laptops.
Sabita helping little girls navigate the mouse around the screen.
Progress Maharjan helping his brother Brosen Dongol learn lessons of grade two. Brosen will soon be enrolled in two and these sessions will give him an idea about the lessons he will soon be studying in school 🙂
Sisters babysitting their small brothers.
Aastha and Kaushiki exploring the interactive learning materials with their brothers.
We feel good to see them investing their time in quality learning.
Time for some group photo. We had kids from different age groups and they were very talented.
A volunteer teacher at the session who is actively helping to run the program. We also passed a package of E-paath to the teacher so that he can use this interactive activities in his class.
Passing through the rubbles to reach our next destination – Janasewa Higher Secondary School. Most of the old houses in Kirtipur has collapsed due to earthquake.
Many houses were destroyed leaving countless people homeless.
Dangerously tilted house in the alley of Kirtipur.
A town in Kirtipur had many old and culturally rich houses which now is not suitable for habitation.
Many of the families are living in tents and are still not sure how long they will be there. With monsoon approaching soon, they are worried about their permanent shelter.
Child friendly space at Janasewa Higher Secondary School had majority of children coming in during the day. We had divided our sessions into two, so that children can make maximum use of the educational tool.
Learning never stops.
Learning helps children forget what they experienced and motivates them to look forward to new things.
I could not understand him speaking but he got me. Nonetheless, I spent ten days with him. During those days, we did many things together, like playing, joking around and learning together, which was a funny struggle as I could hardly understand him. Surya is one of the five sons of Dharma Raj Joshi, who is the principal of Bhawaneshwori Primary School. It was not a surprise that he studied in same school. He was childish, naughty, talented and super confident all at the same time. However, he was a brilliant student, both in terms of his studies and in using XO laptops. During our volunteering phase at Bhawaneshwori school, we had stayed at Dharma sir’s house. This was a time when I got a chance to know him in his vicinity; his nature, his studies and his learning habits.
Surya is nine, studies at class four and is the first boy among his fellow students. He has always been first since pre-primary. It had only been a week since his first encounter with XO laptop but his skill and cleverness helped him get the idea on using the tool very quickly. It was natural for students to grasp the knowledge on their own pace; some were able to get it soon and for others, it took sometime. In addition to being good at using his new educational tool, Surya was also equally motivated towards extra curricular activities, such as music, games, etc. In my observation, other students were quite passive in compare to his activeness and interest towards learning new things.
Teachers had not yet taught students on using E-Pustakalaya. Like other students, Surya also was not much aware about it. We volunteers travelled to another school after spending ten days at Surya’s house. In our return, we were stunned to see Surya excitedly and skillfully using the digital library. This boy was actually very smart and grasped things very quickly. He was very good at playing audio and video, opening and zooming books, downloading and reading, using activities like recording, music, games and many other contents of E-pustakalaya. Seeing his enthusiasm, and his learning habits, I can say that he can learn new ideas from regular computers as well. These types of students are rare in Bajhang.
His father plans to send Surya to Attariya after the completion of his grade four. It gave Surya a great pleasure to know that his eldest brother living in Attariya owns a laptop. There, Surya will learn all basic knowledge about computer and its benefits. Surya’s father also plans to buy him a personal laptop so that his children knows basic knowledge about computer. If his father is able to fulfill this dream, Surya will definitely upgrade his knowledge from mini educational laptops to big laptops. His father’s main goal for him is to continue exploring laptops even after passing out from grade five. Surya’s father really wishes his son could continue his further studies in equally good school where he can get the extra knowledge about computers.
Surya exploring this XO laptop with much enthusiasm
Surya had never seen laptop or computer before. He had only used simple mobile devices since his family owns a mobile gallery in Attariya. His first experience with computers is with XO. Now, within a very small period of time, he and his family broadened their perspective about study and lifestyle. They begin to feel that computer is essential in today’s life. “With the help of computer, Surya will be a successful person in future,” his father expressed his happiness.
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.
When the Phaplu airport finally opened after a year-long closure for repair, our team immediately planned a visit to five of our program schools in Solukhumbu last November. We were glad to find the schools and the teachers remain ever enthusiastic about using laptops in classrooms. Our team provided essential technical support at Dudhkunda Lower Secondary School, JanaJagriti Lower Secondary School, Garma Lower Secondary School, Swarnim Primary School and Pike Secondary School. Most of the laptops were in good working condition, and few technical issues were resolved during the visit. Please check out the photo series captured during our trip to Solukhumbu with our Network and System Engineer Mr. Sumit Acharya.
Kids from Dudhkunda Lower Secondary School. OLE Nepal started its Laptop program in this school in 2012.
Mr. Sumit Acharya, our Network and System Engineer helping a school teacher updating E-Paati laptops with the latest content.
Kindergarten and First grade students of Dudhkunda School. The two teachers take care of those students in the same classroom. Kindergarten kids sit in the left hand side of the room while first graders sit on the right hand side.
Fourth grade students from Janajagriti Lower Secondary school using E-Paati laptops.. The school has a room dedicated for the laptops. There are custom-made wooden racks for laptop storage and charging. They use the laptop once a week for each class.
Teacher helping the students.
Kids enjoying their time outside of the classroom.
Kids from Swarnim Primary School using apricot seeds to learn arithmetic. Their teacher uses different interactive techniques to teach maths to primary level students. This is one of the schools where Government of Nepal is piloting an educational initiative that involves using activity-based milestones rather than regular exams to upgrade students to next grade.
A staff from Phaplu Community School cleaning laptops. Her one kid also attends the same school. She told us that since it is dusty and windy there, laptops need to be cleaned regularly. This is the first school in Solukhumbu district where OLE Nepal started its program. In this school, there is a laptop assigned for each kid, which they can also take home during weekends.
A little boy from Garma Secondary School marching with Khata to offer to OLE Nepal staff. The school had organized a program to welcome us 🙂
A second grade student who has not used E-Paati yet as OLE Nepal has not been able to reach to her school. It is our mission to reach every possible school in Nepal.
“ Disparity in the world is growing resulting to lack of opportunity. A single donation of money and food without a targeted solution is not the answer to reducing disparity. Give people a real chance! A basis to climb the ladder! Basic education is the answer to do well in school and in life. If we do not act now, the disparity will increase causing resentful society. Give an opportunity to succeed.”- Rabi Karmachyara
Working at OLE has given me the experience of launching various ideas in form of pilot projects that are related to access to education. In this process I am amongst amazing people that are passionate about making a difference in the world. Recently, OLE team in Boston has an opportunity to meet with OLE Nepal’s Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya who has pioneered technology-integrated education in Nepal’s public schools through a comprehensive program in partnership with the Government of Nepal. Believe it or not, OLE Nepal started as a small conversation amongst friends interested in using technology for education and evolved into an organization. These conversations led to a conclusion that educators are a priority and technology is a tool for quality education.
In 2008, OLE Nepal was launched in two schools with a very small budget and a signed memorandum with the Ministry of Education of Nepal. Currently, OLE Nepal is successfully integrated into 100 schools in Nepal, spread across the entire country; making it clear that right ideas and sincere efforts can definitely lead to success.
What makes this organization unique is that it uses technology to enhance the learning process in schools by integrating technology, teacher training and free educational content that is accessible even without the Internet.
These interactive education materials in form of games and other media resources that enhance learning in an engaging process that has increased class participation, creativity and problem solving skills among the children. Additionally, teachers, parents and community members are equally engaged to understand the learning process so that there is no fear of technology. It made me happy because through this process quality education materials become accessible even across different geographic areas and socio-economic strata. When asked about the practicality of this idea Rabi said, “Many millennium generation middle class children across the globe are growing up by using tablets and computers. Why have not give a similar opportunity of a technology integrated learning to kids in rural areas?”
I was a little surprised when we discovered that the growth process of OLE Nepal was not linear. Instead, it was like navigating through maize. One had to go through successes, experiments, and drawbacks. I was inspired after I found out that OLE Nepal has succeeded in creating awareness among policy makers, education institutions and government that technology can have a positive impact in schools if it is integrated in the learning process.
Our conversation went on about the future of Open Education Resources (OER), which concluded that it is bringing a revolution. Tertiary education has already changed as it has made people around the world get access to their desired classes through Internet. It is also certain that as Internet reaches out more people so will the use of OER. I was also among those independent learners that are taking classes online free of cost. I discovered that the initial goal of MIT to share its education resources openly was to provide teachers access to quality materials for their class globally. But the evaluations showed that 42% of the people using MIT’s OER were actually independent learners! Because the content was learner focused. Even teachers teaching these classes had an incentive to reach out to million of students globally. Our conversation confirmed my belief that using open education resources in schools is the next revolution. I am a rebel, so it made me delighted to be an agent of this next revolution.
In the end, when I asked Rabi about his most memorable incident, with a very infectious smile he said, “ If you let kids be kids and learn, the positive energy and the interaction is contagious. This is my source of motivation and inspiration.”
This was my second visit to Bajhang. The first one was about three months ago where we went to train the teachers from 10 different schools on using laptops and implementing the ICT based education. This visit was intended for the further enhancement of the teachers’ skill towards integrated teaching via in-school training. In addition to that, we also conducted a Baseline Survey on the students of 10 schools in Bajhang. This was my very first experience of conducting an official survey. So besides the technical help, I also assisted with that.
I had never been to Terai during summer. This was the first time I encountered so much heat. It was 40 degrees in Dhangadhi when we stepped out. We decided not to stay any longer there because of the heat. We set off for Dadeldhura pretty soon. This time of the year was perfect for Kafal (a wild fruit called Bayberry). We were accompanied by delicious Kafal on our way. The next day, before setting out to Bajhang, we paid our visit to one of the popular temples of Dadeldhura. We reached Jhota Bazar at around four in the evening and it was pretty much astounding, for we had thought the place would be too hot. Rather, it was a cool place to hang out which changed our minds as we decided to extend our stay there.
Starting our first day of work, into the wildness of the forest, we walked along the trails by the beautiful Seti river which was burbling its way out. We left for the school at around six in the morning when I felt the freshness of the purest touch of nature, leaving behind all kinds of pollution of Kathmandu. Half an hour walk of about 3.5 kms would certainly be tiresome but not in the freshness of such place. I started the technical stuffs as soon as I reached the school. While Tika sir was engaged in class observation, I was busy with the kids of class three in the school. I made them draw something on their own. They were busy on making their art for a while and after a bit later, I took a laptop and played a children’s song. They enjoyed the song and started singing along. So, I paused the song and called a boy from higher class to play Madal (a nepali musical instrument) for them to sing. I enjoyed listening to such innocent voices. This was my very first interaction with the children in schools. By the time I finished my work, it was already noon. We were unable to hold the SMC meeting so we returned to the nearest pickup point which was the same as the morning. We returned to Jhota Bazar where we were staying and had our lunch. Later we went roaming around and eventually reached a mini-beach on the bank of Seti where we created various sand art for fun. We tried catching fishes and skipped stones on river. We didn’t stop until it grew darker. At the end of the day, before and after dinner we took a short walk along the empty roads.
Kids exploring their creative side.
On the second day, I revisited the same school for Baseline survey with our trainer Miss Deepa. It was pretty much difficult because of the communication gap between us and the children. We came across such brilliant students who could change the face of Bajhang in the coming years but the English language became major source of dissatisfaction. Interacting with the children and helping them with their questions was very much fun yet tiring. I went on with the survey with other classes as well. By the end of the working hour, I had a sore throat because this was the very first time I had to control the whole class by reaching out to each and every kid. As we didn’t had our breakfast, we were invited to the headteacher’s house. We agreed on going and I believe it was the right decision. We found out that the community was self sustaining with bio-gas for cooking purpose from the by-products of the cattles they rear. The chilling gust of wind under scorching heat of sun was refreshing. We decided to explore the bank of the Seti river again while waiting up on the road for our pickup to arrive. We returned to our stay and took some rest. Two of our colleagues went fishing instead.
The shaky bridge to the school.
The next day our driver had to drop us to four different schools at the same time. So he dropped four of us to Bagthala, our splitting point. Miss Deepa and I took a local transportation where I suffered throughout the journey. It was an off-road and the driver was playing annoying music really loud. We reached the school about an hour later after crossing a ‘temporary’ bridge. It was very adventurous to even think about the thrill of falling off it. The river flowing down the bridge would certainly give a lot of trouble as we were carrying some electronic stuffs with us. After reaching the school, I continued with the updates and survey. We were received by our vehicle at around midday. We had our lunch at Head Sir’s house where I met a boy who was physically challenged but a brilliant mind. He was always cheerful and didn’t regret his state. I was very inspired by his spirit. After we left the place, we headed to Deulekh for our stay. We received others on the way. I personally didn’t like the place. It was boring. The place lacked electricity and proper drinking water.
The next day we set out for other schools. We had to reach Bhumiraj school in Chir Udi. It was exactly on top of the hill, opposite to where the vehicle left us. It was a good time and place for hiking that morning, until we took a diverged path that ended us to the foot of the hill. It almost took us an hour to reach the school. I was very much delighted when the students greeted me with ’ Good Morning’ rather than ‘Namaste’. This was the best school for me. The students were very much forward in terms of communication which made my survey much easier. I was so much relieved to find such kids. I only had to stand there and watch them give the responses and nothing much. They found the survey so much easy that they took half the time they were given to finish it. What I didn’t like about the school was its location. It was on the edge of the cliff which was very dangerous. However, the teachers were very much concerned about the equipments. They inquired about the precautions that should be taken for long life of the equipments such as the solar panels, inverters, etc. Then we left the school and reached to the pick-up point. On our way back, we also stopped by the Bhumiraj school in Suwakot. The teachers welcomed us with Kafal and we stayed there for sometime, while Ganesh Sir went to Bagthala for he had to complete some work. Later, we returned to our stay and got some rest.
The very next day was refreshing as we walked to the nearby schools and didn’t require vehicular transport. We went to Kalika Bhagwati school. However, as the school was on top of the hill, we only had to ascend to reach the school, which was tiring. I started my work with the updates and later joined the survey. I was disappointed with them for they were not as good as the students of the previous school. Apparently, It was the Ganatantra Diwas (Republic Day), so not many students showed up. There were a lot of students in this school as compared to other schools. There wasn’t anything different than what we did in other schools. However, we found a writing enthusiast. As I recall from the training few months back, she was very much into taking charge, representing a group, and now interested in writing. She had maintained a series of reports of school activities. After going through her writings and enjoying our day at the school, we returned back. Later in the evening, everyone of us agreed to hike to Shiv Bhawani school. There was a beautiful meadow from where we had an exquisite view of the hills.
Baseline survey in action.
It was Friday and we only had a school left with two groups. We reached the Manakamana school after a stiff climb. This was one of the places I liked the most because it was a beautiful place with ever-flowing water resource. This was the very place where I had my first snow experience during previous visit. We didn’t have much trouble that day because the school was only upto class three. So we had only two grades to survey. I started the update as soon as we reached the school. We waited to start our survey as we were planning to conduct some recreational activities with the kids, such as playing games, singing and dancing. The students enjoyed their start of the day. After some time we began our survey and finished it shortly. We decided to leave for Dadeldhura on the same day which was technically scheduled for next day. We left Bajhang bidding Good-Byes to the friendly folks at around three in the afternoon.
Children bidding us good-byes
After we left Bajhang, it started hailstorming. There wasn’t any place to take shelter so we continued with the journey. It was such a thrill to view the lightnings as we gained altitude. There was very strong wind that made the biggest trees to sway and eventually break off. The wind had blown away many roofs in Dadeldhura. We didn’t find any place to take shelter, so we continued further to Doti where we found a place to stay. It had almost been a week that we found such good food and cozy rooms.
We left early next day. Four hours of ride from cool place to a hot one was difficult to adjust with. Eventually, we returned a day ahead beating our estimated plan. This 9 day visit to Bajhang was a good experience for me. I found this trip much more easy and enjoyable than the previous one.