Rebuilding the school network in Sindupalchowk district
AMURT has been instrumental in normalizing school life for over a thousand students after the traumatizing 2015 earthquake. The initial focus was to make the schools useable again, so AMURT retrofitted 25 damaged classrooms, and rebuilt four new classrooms, in 13 schools. AMURT also collaborated with the schools to improve the classroom environment. AMURT improved the awareness of the students through an assortment of training sessions, the expressiveness of the students through educational theater, and the performance of the students through coaching and improved libraries. AMURT has helped the schools to “build back better.”
Kalika school soon after the 2015 earthquake, and newly renovated (below)
Promoting child rights
AMURT provided child rights training to 1180 children from nursery to Class 10 through child protection committees (started with AMURT’s support) and educational theater. The educational theater was particularly inspirational for the students, allowing them to express their key issues, namely child marriage, child labor, sexual abuse and corporal punishment, in a safe and supportive environment. The skits are performed in the school compounds, with all the students and teachers in attendance. After the drama on corporal punishment at Kalika school, the teachers agreed that corporal punishment does not give a positive result for a student’s performance at school. The village Child Protection Committee was so impressed with the performance that they donated $100 to the students to enable them to purchase costumes and makeup and to travel to other schools to perform.
The educational theater program has served as a catalyst to bring key protection issues into public conversation and raise people’s awareness. It has also helped the younger children better understand protection issues through a medium that is more engaging than lecture.
The teachers said that the educational theater training gave a lot of confidence to the children and even helped academic performance. Many of the training sessions emphasized student participation which enabled students to be bolder and more creative in expressing themselves. As one teacher in Kalika school noted, “The students have become more conscious about right and wrong, and now raise questions about the bad behavior of others, even us teachers.”
AMURT provided midday meals directly to the 13 schools for seven months, and then provided small grants to the school management committees for the same. This, along with the provision of school uniforms, enabled parents to use their precious resources to take care of other fundamental needs.
At the request of teachers, AMURT provided coaching classes in English, Math and Science to 157 Class 10 students. Due to the earthquake, their studies had been affected and the teachers were concerned that the students would not pass the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). The students improved their competencies in each subject as a result of the coaching. The teachers of Rama High School said the coaching “saved” them. In the prior two years none of the Class 10 students had passed the SLC, putting Rama school at risk of being severely penalized by the government. However, after AMURT’s coaching four students passed!
Libraries and book corners
AMURT set up libraries in the five larger secondary schools (Rama, Kalika, Seti Devi, Jalpa, and Shanti Udaya), and provided a one-day training to 68 teachers on ways to use reference books to enhance classroom learning.
Now, teachers provide research questions to small groups of students to answer by exploring the books, and teachers conduct lessons in the library, such as Social Studies during which the children study the constitution of Nepal.
AMURT provided a training to teachers in all 13 schools on the creative utilization of the book corners, of which there are now 40 in Classes 1 to 5. The book corners are mini-libraries kept in the classrooms for the utilization of teachers and students both inside and outside teaching time.
With access to so many interesting books, the students have improved their reading and imaginative skills. Many of them even stay after class to continue reading.
Seti Devi Sarada Secondary School: Improving the educational experience
In addition to supporting the post-earthquake repair and reconstruction of Setidevi Secondary School, AMURT helped improve the quality of education inside the classrooms.
The initial focus was to get the school facilities usable again, so AMURT rebuilt two steel structures (5 classrooms), 11 toilets and 6 washing areas. Then AMURT focused on the learning experience itself. Shanti Karki, a Grade 2 teacher, benefited from one of AMURT’s book corners. “Before, my classroom was empty,” she said, “so the students didn’t want to stay there. But now the classroom is full of colorful books and reference material. Children love reading the books, so teaching is a lot easier.”
With access to so many interesting books, the students have improved their reading and imaginative skills. Many of them even stay after class to continue reading. Shanta Karki adds,” In the beginning, the students used to rip the books. But now they take care of them because they know their educational value..” Setidevi is one of five schools provided with a reference library by AMURT, along with a teacher orientation to group learning to make the education less hierarchical. Now students work in peer groups to research key subject areas in the library.
Gunjana Shrestha, a Grade 9 student, is happy: “For the first time in my school life I can go to the library and research interesting topics.”
Finally, AMURT provided “educational walls” for the Grade 1 classroom. This includes wall painting that highlights basic items related to literacy and numeracy. Not only has this made the classroom more colorful and child-friendly, but provides a constant reminder to the students of key lessons.
Grade 1 teacher, Kalyani Nepal, says,” The children love reading from the wall. For me, it has made teaching easier and more entertaining.”
G.C., Basudev, Setidevi’s headteacher, says the educational walls, book corners, and libraries have helped the teachers cover all curriculum topics in a more interesting, effective and entertaining way.