Echoes of Darchula

– Subash Parajuli, Teaching Resident for Darchula 2018-19

“While I decided to go to Darchula for the ‘Teaching with Technology Residency Program’, my excitement was mostly about visiting a new place in the remote far-western corner of Nepal. The only thing I knew about Darchula was that it was a district that shared its borders with both India and China. There was not much expectation, except getting to explore a new part of our country. After an intensive training in the OLE Nepal office in Lalitpur, I and my fellow residents – Ashraya and Sanish were finally ready to leave for our residency program in Darchula.

The local accent started to sound strange after we started driving uphill from Dhangadi; however, we were able to catch the essence of their conversations. If one knows both Hindi and Nepali well, then understanding the language was not a big issue. Having travelled to many places in Terai region of Nepal, I was aware of the influence of Indian culture there, but witnessing the same in the hilly region of Nepal was totally new to me. Since people from this region have been crossing the border to work and trade in India for generations, it made sense that their dialect and accent had Hindi influence.

Morning assembly in Yuwabarsha Basic School, Marma in Darchula.

Our stay in Marma was calm and soothing, with only the sound of Chameliya river flowing. Every person passing by would ask about our home and our purpose of visit. For us too, the places and people of Darchula were just imaginary before getting there, but these people and places turned into reality. The kids, the schools, the teachers, the strangers passing by weren’t just in our imagination anymore. Everyone we met was so curious seeing us there, and we were equally inquisitive about them. Some kids even got frightened seeing strange people who looked different from the locals. It felt like it was a totally unexplored, unseen part of Nepal, and the culture was still unaffected by external factors. It’s strange that the tone of their language sounded somewhat rude to us as we were not accustomed to it, but the people were very warm and hospitable. Most common food was chapati/roti/bread of maize, and vegetable soup made with buttermilk. While travelling from Marma to Lekam region, which is closer to India in the same district, there were some noticeable differences in culture and language. We had learnt the language in one village, and tried to use it in another village, then the kids would laugh and adults would help us correct our language.

Students learning on laptops in Darchula

The physical infrastructure and situation of schools was not different from any other rural hilly region of our country. Inadequate number of teachers was a common problem among many schools. Students addressed teachers as “Master sa’b” which felt really fascinating, as we normally address as “sir”. We had only heard “Master sa’b” in some Indian movies only. However, the teaching subjects, school infrastructures and teachers share the same challenges and happiness with any other schools of Nepal in hilly regions. Even in such remote areas, teachers are qualified and have strong learning attitude. They really want to contribute something to their communities through the schools, and are willing to increase their horizon so they can bring the world to their classrooms and communities.

Teacher preparing E-Paath lesson plan

When we reached the schools, the laptop program had already started; all the procedures were already set to run the laptop integrated classes smoothly. It was really good to see that all students would wash their hands, wipe their hands dry with their handkerchief, and leave their sandals or shoes outside the door, before entering the laptop room. Then, they would wait for the instruction from teacher to boot up their laptops. Seeing all these activities with this beautiful cultures in a small corner of a village, gave me immense happiness and motivation. Setting cultures in classroom is really a huge challenge. The teachers were doing a great job to impart their learning from training to the classroom. The zeal of teachers and students to adapt to new technology, and their curiosity to learn new things,  motivated me to contribute more to their learning pedagogically and technically. Having only the resources and training is not enough to improve the education, but the learning attitude and motivation to contribute something to the community are equally important. The involvement of the School Management Committee, and the parents, was also needed to make this program more successful and sustainable.

Discussions with teachers and School Management Team
(Second from left: Teaching Resident, Subash Parajuli)

I came back from Darchula with the strong motivation to work in the education sector of Nepal. I believe that every child deserves an excellent education, and nothing should stop of a child to attain that. The laptop program and the Teaching with Technology Residency Program of OLE Nepal have also contributed hugely by providing state of the art digital learning tools to the students of such remote places of our country. To strengthen Nepal’s education system, we must start from primary schools, and technology enhanced learning is essential to fill up the huge gap between the public education system of Nepal and the education system of the more developed countries. I am also grateful to OLE Nepal for providing me such an opportunity which helped me to contribute something to Darchula and also to learn a lot from there.”

The laptop program in Darchula was launched on September 2018. Read More

Meet our Darchula Teaching Residents for 2018-19

Left to Right: Ashraya, Subash and Sanish

OLE Nepal’s Teaching in Technology Residency program has been receiving rave reviews from school teachers, local communities and children. Each year, OLE Nepal trains young graduates to support the newly launched laptop program schools in the far western districts of Nepal. Ever since it was introduced 5 years ago, many young graduates have travelled to remote communities in these districts where they live for months working with schools and communities so that they can use digital technology effectively in the teaching-learning process. This year, three motivated individuals were selected for the Residency program in Darchula district. They will spend 5 months in this remote district, working directly with the teachers and students in the schools.

Earlier this year, OLE Nepal introduced the laptop program in 15 basic schools in the remote far-western district of Darchula. Teachers and students in these farflung hilly areas have started using laptops loaded with E-Paath learning materials in their classrooms. The program was launched with intensive 7-day teacher training program held in local municipalities in September 2018. The second stage of the training program will be held in December when our training team will visit each school to observe classes and provide feedback and additional help to teachers.

We are pleased to introduce you to this year’s Residents.

Meet Subash! He had previously worked in a remote public school in Sindhupalchowk district as a Teach for Nepal fellow, and now in OLE Nepal he wants to use his huge passion of technology and travel to contribute for the positive impact in education in underserved areas. He believes OLE will be great place to enhance his learning and experiences in the sector of education and technology. Subash has completed Bachelor in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Institute of  Engineering. Here are Subash’s expectations from the Teaching with Technology Residency Program in Darchula:

“During this program, I am looking forward to know more about the situation of the education system in the primary level of rural schools. I has always believed that for the change in education system of our country, we should start from the primary level by strengthening the base of the students. Technology will be playing a key role for such kind of transformation. I want students from the program schools to be more curious and work in the development of their critical thinking and questioning capability. I will always be encouraging such things in students and teachers as well. This program will help me to know more about the far western side of our country and know their cultures and traditions.”

Next, we have Ashraya! Before joining OLE Nepal, Ashraya worked as a trainee in different NGOs. He joined OLE Nepal because of his interest in the program, where he can work with the local schools and communities, that will help him gain new experience in the field of education. Ashraya has completed Bachelor’s in Social Work and Psychology from Tribhuwan University. When asked about his expectations from the program, he said,

“Firstly I’m looking forward to gaining new experience.  I’m also looking forward to working in a different school and observe their education system. Since it is a field-based program I’m looking forward to working in the community. Likewise, I’m curious about the culture and tradition of Darchula where I could learn good things from their lifestyles as well. I’m looking forward to interacting with the teachers, students, local people during the field visit. Likewise, looking forward to working with the team where I can give my best while coordinating, communicating, rapport building, implementing, etc for our purpose of the organization. Lastly, I hope to make this program fruitful.”

Lastly, we have Sanish! He joined OLE Nepal because of his interest in promoting quality education. During his time at OLE Nepal, he expects to contribute to improving education in rural areas and lessen rural-urban education inequality. Sanish has completed Bachelors in Business Information System from Kathmandu University. Here’s what Sanish is looking forward to in Darchula:

“Besides working in a development problem of rural areas in Darchula by supporting for quality education through the use of technology, I also expect to learn from my first-hand field experience. I hope to reflect from the current situation of education, and take necessary actions by means of support, facilitation, and feedback to bring about about positive changes. Moreover, I aim to learn by interaction with teachers and students and solve problems by means of new ideas and inspirations to improve school education, not necessarily by the implementation of existing or previous ideas. Finally, I also look forward to remaining open to new cultural experiences, and at the same time explore new language, social traditions, communities and values from my five months teaching residency program.”

The Teaching Residency Program gives them an invaluable opportunity to transform education in remote and disadvantaged communities. In addition to receiving training from OLE Nepal, they will also gain an immersive field-based experience. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the application of technology to enhance primary education while gaining invaluable insights to the challenges faced by schools in remote areas.

Watch this space for more updates from Ashraya, Sanish and Subash!