Process to get approvals to construct schools damaged by the earthquake

As we are getting ready to start constructing schools damaged by the earthquake in Gorkha district, we thought it’d be helpful to share the official process that we went through to secure all the approvals and paperwork. This might come handy to other organizations looking to build school buildings.

Activity Location Detail What to get
1. Site survey, community meetings Schools Survey the location, take stock of the situation, meet with school management, teachers, parents and community members. Check the number of students, and if the total number is low, ask if they are planning to merge with a nearby school.
  1. School, student, community information
  2. Community expectations
2. Preliminary school design & cost estimation Office Prepare a preliminary design that is in agreement with the government’s recommended school design and meets community expectations. and cost estimation that includes the cost of raw materials, transport, skilled and unskilled labor, regular monitoring and supervision
  1. Preliminary building design
  2. Tentative cost of school construction
3. Meeting with community Schools Discuss with the school community regarding the number of rooms needed, locally available construction materials, nearest place where other construction items can be procured, availability of skilled masons and other construction resources. Information to prepare detailed construction plan and accurate cost estimation
4. Secure funds Secure funding required to construct the school(s), if it has not been done already Funding
5. Recommendation from District Education Office (DEO) District Headquarter Once you are ready to build the school, submit a letter of interest to the DEO with the name and location of the school(s). The DEO will check to make sure that the school(s) has not received funds or commitment from other sources to construct the buildings, and also to make sure the school is not in the process of being merged. In such cases, the DEO will recommend other schools, or you can identify alternate schools yourself. Recommendation letter from DEO with names and locations of the schools.
6. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Department of Education (DoE) Kathmandu Submit the following:

  1. Recommendation letter from DEO
  2. Organization’s registration documents
  3. Funding source details with signed agreement
  4. Proposed school design They will review all the documents and sign an MoU with your organization.
  1. MoU with DoE to build the schools
  2. Letter to DEO requesting coordination with your organization for the construction of the schools
7. Letter from DEO to District Development Committee (DDC) District Headquarter Submit DoE’s letter and a copy of the MoU and request a letter to the DDC to provide necessary approvals to construct the school(s). Letter to DDC
8. Recommendation for extension of work area District Headquarter If the district is not in your organization’s work area, you will need to get extension of work area in the district from the District Administration Office (DAO) Letter from DDC to the DAO to extend work area in the district
9. Extension of work area District Headquarter Apply for work area extension at DAO with the following:

  1. Request letter
  2. Organization’s registration and bylaws
  3. DDC’s recommendation letter
Letter from DAO to DDC recommending the extension of work area
10. DDC’s recommendation to Social Welfare Council District Headquarter Submit documents to DDC:

  1. Letter from DEO
  2. MoU with DoE
  3. Organization’s registration and bylaws
  4. Detailed work plan
  5. Request letter for recommendation to Social Welfare Council (SWC)
Recommendation letter from DDC to SWC for the project
11. Approval from SWC Kathmandu Apply for approval from SWC with the following documents:

  1. Detailed work plan
  2. MoU with DoE
  3. Organization’s registration and bylaws
  4. DDC’s recommendation letter
  5. School building design
  6. Funding source detail with signed agreement
  7. Cost estimation certified by an engineering firm
Approval from SWC for the project
12. Finalize school design School locations and office Prepare the following:

  1. Detailed site survey and measurement
  2. Detailed engineering design
  3. List and quantity of building materials
Final design with budget
13. DoE approval of final school design Kathmandu Get approval of building design from DoE as per school building structural design criteria Signed MoU with SMC
14. MoU with School Management Committee (SMC) Schools Sign an agreement with SMC to outlining the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders


DoE: Department of Education

DEO: District Education Office

DDC: District Development Committee

DAO: District Administration Office

SWC: Social Welfare Council

SMC: School Management Committee



Report from Schools in Western Gorkha

I got the opportunity to travel to earthquake affected areas in Gorkha during the last week of June alongside a team from Gorkha Foundation. They had gone there to start building a high school in Nepane, Kearbari VDC of the district. My intention was to gather first hand information of the damages caused by the two major earthquakes on April 25 and May 12, and to find out how communities had been coping with the destructions caused by the disaster. I was particularly keen on learning how schools were managing in temporary learning shelters, and what kind of help they needed both in the short and long terms.

We traveled up the western part of Gorkha, along its border with Lamjung district, and visited twelve schools and met with headteachers from additional three schools in Chopprak, Kerabari, Simjung, Muchhok, Jaubari, Hansapur, Kharibot VDCs. Every single one of the schools had extensive damages, with most of the buildings completely destroyed by the strong tremors. Standing in front of the obliterated school buildings, it struck me how fortunate we were that the earthquake occurred on a Saturday when all the schools were closed. While schools were able to salvage few desks and benches, other equipments including computers were not spared when the walls caved in. Out of the 23 schools in the district where OLE Nepal had established digital libraries, the library servers and machines were safe in about half of the schools.

Amidst the ruins and destruction, there were a number of positive and encouraging findings. Every school that we visited had already built temporary learning shelters with whatever means and resources they could find, and classes were underway even in the sub-optimal conditions. While some of the schools have used locally available bamboo and wood to build the structures and have used hay for roofing, others have used corrugated galvanized iron (CGI) sheets that they had received from various sources. Few schools have also used large heavy-duty tents provided to them by donors. Many schools have also reused the CGI sheets from demolished buildings to construct the temporary shelters. Most schools reported attendance at above 75%.

Temporary Classrooms

Classrooms under tents

Makeshift classroom

Class in session

The schools did not wait for donors or government to come build the shelters for them. Each school received Rs. 25,000 per classroom from the District Education Office (DEO) to help clear the debris and build the shelter, and a notice that they must start classes by a mid-June. Local communities, parents, and teachers got together to help build the shelters, while in some schools local youth volunteers came to help. This was an example of the resilience of the local communities, and clearly demonstrated the high priority they placed on their children’s education, especially in light of the fact that many families did not have a proper place to live in.

Makeshift classroom

Temporary home

Temporary classrooms using old and new CGI sheets

Temporary classrooms built with recovered CGI sheets

Another interesting observation was that one building design that withstood the earthquake test was one that the government had been promoting for about a decade. The two-room truss structure designed with assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) was found standing in all the schools we visited even when the adjacent structures were completely obliterated. The walls that were built using stones and mud had come down, but the truss system and roof were left intact. In one school where the wall was built using stone and cement around the truss structure, the building got a green sticker from the inspector, allowing the school to run classes in the building, whereas all the other buildings in the school got red stickers. Future building design for schools should definitely take this fact into consideration, with modifications on the walls to make them safer and stronger.

Truss structure intact but walls have fallen

Truss building with green sticker

The school headteachers and community leaders showed interest in moving on from temporary shelters to build permanent structures. At the end of my visit, I met with the Chief at the DEO, Mr. Hari Aryal, in Gorkha Bazaar, and discussed the DEO’s plans for reconstructing schools. He said that the DEO is expecting approved designs from the Ministry of Education by July end, after which schools can start the building process.

Partnership with Kathmandu University School of Education

We are very excited about the recent agreement with Kathmandu University School of Education (KUSOED) collaborate to further strengthen ICT-based education programs in Nepal’s public school system. OLE Nepal has always believed in expanding the reach of ICT through collaborations and partnerships with governmental and non-governmental institutions. It is a win-win situation for both parties. While the partnership allows OLE Nepal to tap into a pool of talented students to help in the expansion of its program in the country, KUSOED can take advantage of the rich experience that OLE Nepal has gathered over the years in the design and implementation of ICT-integrated education.

The two parties agreed to work together to build on each other’s strengths and experiences towards developing capable human resources, needed to expand ICT-integrated teaching-learning process in primary and secondary schools in the country. It is hoped that the collaboration will lead towards creating a center of excellence in ICT-integrated education within KUSOED. The envisioned center of excellence at KUSOED can play a lead role in the research and design of ICT-integrated teaching-learning practices in the country, and help prepare the human resource required to realize the potential that ICT has to office in improving quality and access in our education system.

As part of the agreement, OLE Nepal will prepare graduate level students to train school teachers on ICT-integrated teaching-learning process, and provide opportunities to trained graduate students to conduct training sessions in OLE Nepal’s program schools. OLE Nepal will also provide support to KUSOED students conducting research in the field of ICT-based education. KUSOED will identify graduate students to participate in the program, facilitate research in ICT-integrated education, provide expert inputs and provide relevant resources available at its ICT Resource Center to expand the scope of ICT-based education in the country.

As per the MoU, OLE Nepal conducted a three-day Training of Trainers (ToT) for eight graduate students from KUSoED on January 28-30, 2013. Four of the trainees later accompanied OLE Nepal’s trainers to Baglung from February 5 to 10 to observe the in-school training being conducted at the six OLPC shared-model program schools.

KU students getting trained at OLE Nepal office

OLE Nepal Newsletter Mar-Apr 2011 (issue 8)

OLE Nepal’s newsletter for March – April 2011 ( issue 8 ) is now available. The newsletter intends to keep its readers up to date on the organisation and its activities.

The full newsletter can be accessed at:

If you wish to subscribe to the newsletter, please email

Deployment 2011 !!

OLE Nepal office is once again abuzz with a flurry of activities; helpers hauling boxes of laptops, interns testing and preparing laptops, technical team preparing school servers with latest NEXS*, program officers calling schools to figure out the additional number of students who will need laptops and bags, training coordinator arranging training programs, people bundling up bags to be shipped to schools. Yes, we are getting ready for the next round of deployment of laptops ahead of the new school year that will begin in mid-April. The interns have taken over the meeting room, the biggest one in the building, and turned it into a staging place for the laptops. The room is a good 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the building with up to 40 laptops running at any given moment, being nand-blasted with the latest version of NEXO*. The interns have dnragged in two stand fans hoping to make the room a bit more bearable. Boxes of laptops line up against the wall with labels showing the names of the destination schools. Bundles of bags carry similar labels. In the other room the network team is preparing plans to wire more classrooms and connect schools to the Internet. The content development team is working frantically to meet the deadline set by the deployment team. The environment around the office is quite intense, yet exciting.

Interns busy preparing laptops for deployment

After having done this for the past three years, the process has become less chaotic than our first major deployment two years ago in 2009. (The 2008 deployment was a test phase where we implemented the program in 2 nearby schools totaling 135 students). Under the watchful eyes of our program manager Subir and our office admin Rabita, the preparation has been much smoother. Our interns and deployment teams are checking on their task lists before they head out to the schools. We even have two deployment veterans Aavash and Prakash coming back to assist us this year.

Laptop bags getting bundled together before being shipped to schools

Soon the laptops, servers, bags, power racks, and other equipment will be shipped to schools on planes and trucks. In many places, the last bit of the journey will include people carrying them on their backs. This deployment marks a special milestone for us. With grade five being added next month, we will have finally reached our goal of saturating grades two to six in all our program schools. We started with grades two and six in 2008, and slowly expanded schools and grades each year to reach this milestone. The content team will have completed the development all the educational materials (E-Paath) for grade 5 English and mathematics by the end of April. This has been a huge undertaking for OLE Nepal. The development of curriculum-based digital educational materials in various subjects for grades two to six has us three years, and the content and process have gone through a number of iterations in our attempt to continually improve based on feedback from teachers and students.

Laptop boxes ready for shipment to schools

OLE Nepal trainers, with help from government trainers, will conduct trainings in all districts on how to integrate laptops and digital content in classroom teaching. Teachers attending this training are English, mathematics, Nepali and science teachers teaching in grades two to six at the program schools who have not received any training from OLE Nepal in the past. By the time we complete this training session, we hope that all teachers who will be involved in laptop-based teaching will have received training.

Specially designed bags for laptops and books

But we are still far from our goal. We will now shift our focus to see how we can expand the program to more schools and reach more students while looking into the possibility of developing contents for more grades and subjects. With an implementation model that has been tried and tested over the years, along with educational content including our vast digital library, and a team of dedicated and talented trainers, educators, engineers and managers, we have the right formula to scale the program to more schools.

Locally designed and built laptop charging racks

* Nand-blasting is a cool technique to install software in multiple XO machines wirelessly from one source machine.
* NEXO is a variation of Sugar build maintained by OLE Nepal, customized for Nepal with local activities and content, such as E-Paath.

* NEXS image is a customized linux server used in the Nepali classrooms, which provides access to a local digital library, and services such as backup for the children’s work