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 (https://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.

Changing Nepali Classrooms

Gyanodaya Madhyamik Vidhyalaya, Lete, Mustang

Figure 1: Gyanodaya Madhyamik Vidhyalaya, Lete, Mustang

Mr. Ananta Raj Acharya, the principal of Gyanodaya Madhyamik Vidhyalaya in Lete, Mustang, is an accomplished educationist. In his 22 year long tenure at the same school, he has had many success stories under his belt.

He managed to replace an old school building with a new grand building that was constructed with the help of the Indian Embassy. Recently, he was elated to see how his teachers were successfully integrating ICT in daily classroom teaching-learning practice. Mr. Acharya is determined to make the ICT integrated classroom a model for the whole district of Mustang.

Mr. Acharya’s dream does not seem too farfetched when he has dedicated and competent teachers like Mr. Sambhu Prasad Bhat. Observing Mr. Bhat’s ICT-integrated class is as good as getting a crash course on how to use various resources to deliver an effective class. Mr. Bhat has clear and well-thoughtout plan. He would start with Grade 6 English textbook where children are explained about alphabetical order. While the children eagerly read what the book has on the topic, Mr. Bhat writes the names of few students on the white board. He asks the children to arrange the names in the Alphabetical Order. Children are excited to see their names on the board. It did not take long for the children to copy the ten names in alphabetical order on each of their exercise books. The children are then asked to open their E-Paati laptops.

Mr. Sambhu Prasad Bhat teaching English

Figure 2: Mr. Sambhu Prasad Bhat teaching English

Excitement fills the room as they find an E-Paath activity titled ‘Alphabetical Order’. Children finish arranging the words in the exercise section of E-Paath with ease and they put on a wide grin when they get it all correct. Mr. Bhat ends his lesson with an announcement, “We will learn how to use a dictionary tomorrow. Alphabetical order serves as the basis of how you look for words in a dictionary.”

Visiting schools that have implemented OLE Nepal and Dept of Education’s joint OLPC program in Mustang, one gets an impression that keeping children happy in the classroom is critical to effective and in-depth learning experience. The moment children are asked to open their E-Paati laptops, the classroom beams with happiness. Children patiently wait for the teacher’s instructions and they go to the E-Paath lesson as directed by their teacher. This immediately opens the possibilities of self-learning . Children read, listen and work according to the instructions given in the E-Paath lessons. While playing with the E-Paath activities , children are learning new things as outlined in in the national curriculum for their grade. In Mustang, E-Paatis are serving not only as a teaching-learning tool but also as a source motivation for the children.

The same is true for children in the district of Makwanpur. Shree Devi School in the heart of Hetauda has implemented OLPC program with pride. Teachers in the school have found E-Paath lessons helpful in many ways. They say that E-Paath has created a paradigm shift from a teacher-controlled classroom to a teacher-facilitated classroom. One teacher opines that E-Paath has enabled him to pay more attention to slower learners in his class.

Visitors at the school can witness children’s immense affinity towards their E-Paati laptops. They frequently ran after the teachers requesting for permission to take their E-Paati home with them. When inquired why they wanted to take the E-Paati home, the surprising answer was “to read a story that I have downloaded from the E-Pustakalaya[1].”

E-Pustakalaya seemed to be making a big difference in enhancing pupil’s reading habits at the schools. E-Pustakalaya is no less popular amongst Dadheldura’s three program schools as well. Janaki Joshi, a teacher at Jana Joyti School at Hamtad, Dadheldura says “I am surprised at the rate at which children are reading books.”

The ICT-integrated teaching-learning in the classrooms of Dadheldura schools is proving to be a big boon for the mostly barefoot school children. The love for the E-Paati laptops and the educational content is so great that the classes fill with excitement when children are asked to read, listen and play o E-Paath activities. One of the officials of the District Education Office in Dadheldura was pleasantly surprised how effective learning was taking place in the classrooms. “Had it not been for the OLPC program, these children would have had to wait another 10 or 15 years just to touch a computer” said Mahadev Prasad Joshi, School Supervisor of Dadheldura District Education Office. “They now have not just the computer but also something to enjoy, read and learn”, added Mr. Joshi.

Integration of ICT in classroom activities is providing children with greater freedom in their learning. Pupils have been masters of their own learning and teachers’ role has been changed to guiding children to learn the underlying meanings of what they see or read on the screen. The new found change has been pleasant for both the stakeholders. Parents are no less happy to see their children spending time reading contents on the screen. One of the parents, Tek Bahadur Dhami, of Jana Joyti said:

“Initially I thought that my son was wasting time reading something trivial for too long on the computer. When he began reading me the stories and rewriting the stories that he read, I realized that he was not wasting his time.”

The disparity in accessibility of educational resources amongst the of haves and the have-nots is unimaginably wide in Nepal. OLE Nepal and Department of Education’s joint OLPC program may seem like just a drop in the ocean to fill the divide, but it certainly is setting the precedence in successful integration of ICT and could be the answer to meeting the challenges of effective teaching and learning in the remote areas of the country.

[1] E-Pustakalaya is OLE Nepal’s digital library containing books and reference materials.

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.

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:


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