Woken early by the bell ringers. There are a number of shrines nearby and people like to ring the bells to alert God that they are there. Also I didn't trust my alarm clock so slept fitfully until 7.30 when I got up, washed and forced down some cereal. I also made tea.
Walked down the road at 8.50 to the school. There I was met by Kiran who is the overall principal of the operation. I was summoned into his office and we talked for about an hour about the school and what he wants me to do. This proved to be teacher training except he wasn't very specific about what! I was then given an official badge and lanyard and started my own page in the volunteers' book for signing in and out. I was then taken to the primary school and introduced to the head teacher of the school. This is also Kiran's sister (the whole operation is a family affair. Kiran's father started the school and both sons and grandsons and daughters are involved in running it). We talked for a while in the lovely library which, as it is carpeted, necessitated shoes off. It was interesting to hear about the development of the school and the different grades. The children are all from very poor families in the local area but there is a stigma attached to sending your child to the school and people who do attend are rather looked down upon. However, they provide free education to those who could not otherwise afford it including materials.
I spent the morning shadowing the English teacher and helping int he lessons. Initially the children were shy but I used all my few Nepali phrases on them and they began to thaw. Compared to the Kenyan children who were very reserved these children are open and interested and are used to volunteers. By the end of the afternoon I was already being called "teacher Jane".
The methodology is so very very different from the UK that I am not sure where to start with formulating any training. It is all based on recitation, memorisation and copying. It must work. All the Nepalese I have met who have come through the system are English speakers, can read and write Nepali and are numerate and many have further degrees. However, there is no culture of questioning or giving personal opinions or teaching/learning transferable skills. Much of the practice in UK schools is totally alien to those brought up in this system, so much so that strategies that I use daily will be very strange to the teachers- and learners - here.
|English (class 4)|
|Scial studies in English/Nepali|
|Science in the library.|
I had lunch at Kiran's house with his sister Sheila who was lovely and we chatted about the UK and about her campaign work for improving education in Nepal. I then met her Dad who founded the school and showed her my Devanagari learning program on my phone (it's the script used to write Hindi and Nepali).Then i returned to the school for an afternoon in the computer suite...right up my street!
I brought over two programs donated by two companies in the UK - 2Simple Infant Video Toolkit and Crick Clicker 6. I managed to install the 2Simple software and demonstrated how to use it. While I was loading the other software the teacher I was with had a go and loved it so much so that the net class who came in were using it to control the icons on the screen. From what I can gather the curriculum is very much book led; there is no national curriculum so what is taught is dictated by the schemes that they have and this differs from school to school. ICT (Computing) is 60% theory and 30% practical (I know that doesn't add up to 100% but it's thirds!) and they still have to teach about 5.25" floppy discs! Clicker failed to install as it needs an Internet connection and the suite has no Internet.
|The computer suite|
After the final class I went to the Kindergarten for the final 40 minutes. This was wonderful! I had to use every bit of Nepali that I know to make myself understood but the children responded well and mobbed me to look at their work! I took many photos and was treated to songs at the end.
|The Kindergarten taking it in turns to say "Namaste.Mero naam...ho" (Hello, my name is...).|
|Foundation stage (Kindergarten)|
|This will not be the last photo of cute Nepalese children!|
Once the children had done their homework and gone home we all went to the office to sign out. I then walked back to Swotha square and treated myself to a cup of silver tips tea brewed by the lovely Bikash. It took a while to process everything (and read the Kathmandu Post). I then returned to the apartment to sort out emails and to contact Harihar who is a teacher trainer in Nepal and whose advice I really need.
I went out for dinner as i don't feel confident enough to cook and had a leisurely Nepali Vegetarian set meal overlooking Durbar square in the twilight accompanied by a bottle of Everest Beer. It was relaxing and very atmospheric. Then home to write the blog and have a much needed shower.
Now off to bed and back to school tomorrow. Night!