Nepal’s Department of Education (DoE), under the direction of Nepal’s Ministry of Education (MoE), publishes national education related news, notices and all important information on the national newspaper, Gorkhapatra, as a means to disseminate information to the District Education Offices, resource centers and schools, as well as students and teachers, across Nepal. On November 16, 2016, Nepal’s Department of Education published a notice to all ‘students, teachers, schools and District Education Offices’ of Nepal endorsing OLE Nepal’s digital content — E-Paath, and digital library — E-Pustakalaya. The notice urged all parties addressed to commence the use of all interactive digital content created and curated by OLE Nepal, in partnership with Nepal’s Department of Education, Curriculum Development Center (CDC), and National Center for Education Development (NCED), by visiting the digital library website at www.pustakalaya.org.
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.||
|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||
|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:
|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:
||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:
||Recommendation letter from DDC to SWC for the project|
|11.||Approval from SWC||Kathmandu||Apply for approval from SWC with the following documents:
||Approval from SWC for the project|
|12.||Finalize school design||School locations and office||Prepare the following:
||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
Srikaran Masabathula is our Earthquake relief volunteer from Knox College, Illinois.
During his second year at Knox, he was looking to make a positive difference and decided to head to Nepal to support OLE Nepal with their earthquake relief efforts in the severely destructed area.
Following is the experience shared by Srikaran on his visit to Nepal.
“Hello, this is Srikaran Masabathula and I would like to thank OLE Nepal for giving me and my good friend Matt Surprenant the opportunity to assist in the earthquake relief efforts. When the earthquake hit Nepal, along with a few of my Nepali friends at Knox, we were sleeping peacefully completely unaware of the devastation going on on our planet. The next morning western media didn’t really give it too much coverage and it tried to undersell the devastation. However, my Nepali friends were very quick to post the personal destruction that their families and friends had experienced overnight. The pictures shared, stories told, were absolutely heartbreaking. That is when it really hit us that our friends, the ones we have studied and played with, may not have a home to go back to. Their towns and houses were destroyed and they had to be away from it all, not even with the comfort of their family by them. We started looking for volunteer opportunities when we found out about OLE Nepal through Ms. Manisha Pradhananga, an economics professor at our college who helped us greatly also in acquiring funding for our trip to Nepal.
I landed in Nepal completely amazed at the beauty of the place and the sense of togetherness among the people. My first day at OLE, I loved the way the office worked. Everyone at the office was very closely knitted and it seemed more like a big family working together for a great cause – enhancing the quality of education through the integration of technology in rural classrooms. The first week at office, I got to know a lot about the activities that OLE was involved in and also learnt how to work on the XO laptops which were rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. OLE Nepal had a very popular program called E-Paath where they designed and developed educational contents with various features of technology such as audio, images, animation and text to be built into the laptops with their team of graphic designers and software programmers. OLE has already designed over 500 lessons and activities for students of classes 2 through 7 in the subjects of Science, Mathematics, English and Nepali which were in complete accordance with the national curricula. Another great programme of OLE is E-Pustakalaya is an open digital library which provides free access to over 7000 full text documents, books, educational videos, audio books, learning software, reference materials.
The next week we travelled to Gorkha with a team of two other people Ms. Sofila Vaidya and Mr. Ganesh Ghimire to survey schools that were destroyed in the series of massive earthquakes that struck Nepal towards the end of April and early May. We hiked across 8-9 villages in the Gorkha region through a period of 5 days to visit schools in the vicinity and talk to the management of the schools and assessing the needs of the schools that would benefit from the interactive learning XO laptops. We surveyed about 7-8 schools and we were to pick 5 schools on the criteria of availability of electricity, student size, teacher qualifications and community involvement. Some of the schools were completely destroyed by the earthquakes and classes were temporarily being conducted in the thatched huts while a new building was being constructed nearby.
With the work being done by OLE Nepal, I definitely see a bright future for the kids studying and it also is a great way to keep their mind away from the horrific earthquake. I am forever grateful to get the opportunity to work for such an incredible organization and glad we got to work for a great cause. My sincere thanks to Mr. Rabi Karmacharya, the director of OLE Nepal and the rest of the team, our Professor Ms. Manisha Pradhananga for all her continued support and help in getting us the funding. Without the Richter grant and Stellyes funding, the trip could have never been possible. Special thanks to the Stellyes sisters and the Vovis center and last but not the least, Knox College.”
Re-posting a blog by Quentin Wodon, a lead economist at the World Bank expressing his understanding and perspectives gained from the presentation by Mr. Rabi Karmacharya in a seminar organized by The World Bank Group in Washington D.C. about OLE Nepal’s successes and challenges in implementing laptop-based integrated learning initiative programs from pilot phases to scaling up.
“Impact evaluations are key to how we think about development. Pilot programs suggesting statistically significant impacts are hailed as breakthroughs and as candidates for scaling up. Programs without such clear impact tend to be looked down upon and may be terminated. This may not be warranted. A primary function of impact evaluations should be to improve existing programs, especially in fields where evidence of positive impacts remains scarce. The experience of OLE Nepal, which is part of the OLE network and aims to improve learning and teaching through technology, is instructive in this regard.
Last week, Rabi Karmacharya shared his experience at OLE Nepal at a seminar co-sponsored by the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education and the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, a supporter of Rotary Club of Kathmandu Mid Town in expanding OLE Nepal’s programs. After a successful career in enginerring and technology in California, he launched OLE Nepal in 2007. Now a social entrepreneur, Rabi wants to use technology to transform the way children learn through engagement, exploration and experimentation.
OLE Nepal has achieved quite a bit over the last eight years: deploying 5,000+ laptops in 100+ schools, training 600+ teachers on integrating ICT in the classroom teaching-learning process, developing 600+ learning modules for use by teachers, and creating a digital library with 6000+ books and other items used in schools and community libraries. Its ultimate objective is to help transform and improve Nepal’s education system with technology, working closely with the Ministry of Education and other partners.
What I found most interesting about Rabi’s presentation is how OLE Nepal – as well as donors that support the NGO such as the World Food Program, responded to an evaluation of its programs in 2009-11. The evaluation used a quasi-experimental design: English and mathematics tests administered to students, with collection of additional data through student, teacher and household surveys.
The results were disappointing, with no effect on student test scores even though both teachers and students reported liking the digital contents and finding them useful. The results contradicted field observations and other evidence from teachers and students on the fact that the program was making a difference.
Several factors may have led to an apparent lack of impact on student learning, according to Rabi. First, the program had been implemented only for a relatively short period of time, and improving student learning takes time. Second, it turned out that not all teachers reported to the one-week intensive training session that was held before launching the program, which may have decreased overall impacts in the schools that benefitted from the program. Third, some teachers may not have used as the available digital resources as much as expected due to the increase in workload that this entailed. Fourth, after the initial training, the support provided to teachers was limited. Fifth, it could be that the digital content, while following the curriculum taught in school, was too difficult for students to grasp.
These and a number of factors (including questions about variations in exam difficulty between the baseline and endline tests in the evaluation, and the possibility that some students spent more time on games available through the digital libraries rather than on study for examinations) may have led to the results.
What is important is that the evaluation did not lead to the demise of the program. Witnessing firsthand the changes in classroom dynamic and student engagement brought about by the program, donors continued to fund the NGO, which has been able to grow with support from the World Food Program, the Embassies of Denmark and Finland, and most recently the Air Asia Foundation.
In response to the evaluation, OLE Nepal introduced a number improvements in its programs:
- It now promotes a shared model between grades for a more effective use of laptops and digital resources by schools and teachers;
- The use of resources by students is better supervised and teachers receive more extensive support after the initial one-week training. In addition, a volunteers program is available for additional support;
- The educational contents have been revised to follow the curriculum even more closely; and
- More emphasis will be put on enhancing the ability of students to read in early grades, since this is a prerequisite for them to be able to learn subsequently and use digital resources effectively.
OLE Nepal’s experience is a great lesson in social entrepreneurship, humility, and resilience from an innovative NGO that strives to help teachers and students harness the power of technology in the classroom.”
This blog has been retrieved from blogs.worldbank.org/education
Our friend Anil has recently completed the grueling NYC Triathlon for OLE Nepal.
The Panasonic NYC Triathlon which was held in New York City on July 19th, 2015 saw the presence of many enthusiastic participants who ran, swam and cycled. Among them was our friend Anil who successfully completed the Triathlon with flying colors.
While finishing the Triathlon was his aim, his inner motive was to support a good cause. He generously supported OLE Nepal’s campaign to rebuild schools in the earthquake affected areas. Many people cheered up for his courage and determination. Through this event, he was also successful in involving many people from his community in this campaign. His active role in spreading a word on our campaign indeed helped us gain many generous supporters.
“I have decided to top off my quest for a physically fit heart by using it as an opportunity to help a charity that has made significant difference in the lives of rural Nepalis by providing them with education that is intrinsically entwined with technology.”
OLE Nepal family would like to heartily thank and congratulate Anil for his hard work and dedication.
Photo courtesy: Mr. Sonam Ukyab
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%.
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.
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.
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.
Another crucial task was completed with assessment of the most affected area, Gorkha district. Our team was there last week. We did a thorough assessment of the schools which were severely damaged by the earthquake. After spending almost a week in different places of Gorkha, we came across many schools which were in no position to run their regular classes. Many schools require rebuilding and reconstruction. After scanning through the affected areas in need basis, OLE Nepal team is planning to reconstruct five schools in Gorkha district with generous support from our friends at AirAsia Foundation and from local and international donors. Along with rebuilding of the schools, OLE Nepal will specially focus on providing learning resources to the students through an innovative tool called XO laptop.
We will be sharing detailed information about the relief project soon. Check out some photos taken during the visit: