Teaching for Nepal: Transforming the country one classroom at a time


By Abhaya Raj Joshi    

Come April 14 next year, 30 men and women from across Nepal will embark   on a mission — to kick start a process to transform themselves and the   country.
The   fresh university graduates, chosen as ‘Teach for Nepal’ fellows, would   have accepted a challenge — to bridge the inequality in Nepal’s weary   education system.
Although the government spends billions of   rupees on school education, education in Nepal’s public schools, where   85 per cent of the Nepali children go, remains a pressing problem. As   results from this year’s School Leaving Certificate exams came in, a   noted educationist said Rs 200 billion had gone to waste as thousands of   students in public schools failed to make it past the ‘Iron Gate.’
Simply   put, not only are students in public schools failing the all important   SLC exam, the public schools are failing their students.
“There   is a clear gap between those who have access to private schools, which   are relatively better, and those who don’t,” says Sishir Khanal, CEO of   Teach for Nepal. “This is a form of grave social injustice — every one   agrees. But are we putting our best young minds to tackle the issue?”
The   answer is a resounding ‘No’. Students who do well in studies move on to   the fields of science, technology or business. Those who lag behind   take up Education studies and become teachers — and this is how a   ‘vicious’ circle continues.

When Khanal was in the US pursuing   his studies, he came across Teach for America. Under the programme,   fresh graduates spend two years mentoring children in areas where   education standards are lagging behind. It did not take him long to draw   parallels between the state of education in the US, the biggest economy   in the world, and Nepal, one of the smallest.
The idea for Teach for Nepal was thus born.
Back   in Nepal, Khanal, after carrying out discussions with public schools   and college students, established Teach for Nepal with support from HH   Bajaj family, Buddha Air and the Embassy of Finland.
The problem   starts in schools, where children learn to write. “If 100 students   enroll in grade one, 10 of them even don’t know basic Nepali alphabets,   25 don’t recognise double digit numbers. Around 70-80 of the members  of   the cohort drop out by the time they get to grade ten,” says Sishir   Khanal, CEO of Teach for Nepal “On top of that, only 50 per cent   students pass the SLC.”
Hence, Teach for Nepal is recruiting   competent youth to not only teach in public schools, but also to groom   them into life-long crusaders to end inequity in education.
“We   hope our fellows will become leaders in any sector they work in the   future, says Khanal, adding that regardless of the career path they take   later, they will continue to work to bridge the education divide.
Those   selected for this fellowship will receive Rs 10,000 per month as   stipend and, at the end of two years, they will also be provided with Rs   120,000 — which they are free to spend on anything they wish. The   fellows, who will participate in a six-week-long residential training   before placement, will also be insured.
“Although it demands a   lot of effort and hard work on the part of the fellows, Teach For Nepal   fellows will experience a trans-formative and highly rewarding   experience. They would have done their bit to change the country, one   classroom at a time.”
For more information, visit http://www.teachfornepal.org. The application deadline is December 21.