PHASE raises levels of literacy and numeracy giving children and adults more opportunities and choices. We support governmental schools with teaching materials, buildings, water supplies and toilets, salaries for extra teachers and early childhood development. Adult literacy rates are very low in remote Nepal and being able to read makes a huge difference to people’s lives.
PHASE believes that effective teacher training is the key to education development and has an departments devoted to teacher training learn more about this at – www.nepaltti.org/
In many of the villages where we work there has been no effective education service for several years. Primary school completion rates are under 30% for boys and under 20% for girls. In many of the villages in which we work there are no functioning schools so school completion and literacy rates are closer to 0%. Because communities are unaware of their right to education, or even the benefits of basic literacy, they are not strong advocates for reactivating or strengthening the education system.
Illiterate young people have very few opportunities to earn a living: males usually have to work as labourers or porters, and women and girls often go to Kathmandu’s factories, and sadly may also get forced into prostitution. Having an education, or at least being literate, opens many options.
There are many factors affecting education delivery in remote areas:
Distances – Technically most villages have a primary school within an hour’s walk (still a long way for a 5 year old across mountainous terrain!). In practice many are effectively closed or are closed for extended periods. Secondary schools are few and far between. Even children who do very well academically are usually unable to complete more than 5 years of education, as the nearest secondary school may be several hours walk away and boarding schools are unaffordable for most people.
Language – Nepali is not the first language in many villages, however all government schooling is delivered in Nepali. This makes schooling less relevant and useful to daily life and contributes to high dropout rates
Teachers – There are no trained teachers in some remote areas meaning people from other areas are posted there. Unsupported teachers living in difficult conditions away from their family can struggle leading to long periods of teacher absence. In government schools teachers are allocated according to numbers of pupils (1 teacher per 40 pupils).
In smaller villages, schools have less than 40 children enrolled, which means that one teacher is expected to teach all grades. Other schools, in slightly larger villages, are woefully understaffed with class sizes of up to 80.
Teaching methods – Many teachers have little experience or understanding of child friend techniques and focus on “talk and chalk”, rote learning. School staff working in remote areas receive very little supervision or support from government staff.
Learning Environment – Many schools are in a state of disrepair, either with no furniture or unsuitable/unusable furniture. Classrooms can be dark and cold in winter and too hot in summer. There often is nowhere for the children to play during breaks and children usually don’t get anything to eat between leaving their homes in the morning and returning late afternoon. There is a shortage of adequate teaching and learning materials so schools are not generally child friendly.
Curriculum – The Nepalese curriculum leads up to a high standard national school leaving examination after grade 10. Many children are not able to follow teaching which is geared to an exam they will never get a chance to take. There are no provisions to help those children attain a minimal standard of literacy and numeracy. In many cases children drop out of school after 1-2 years unable even to read Nepalese.
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