Having completed a few post-training observations in schools, I am already building a picture of education here in Nepal.
I was told about large class sizes, the over use of teacher talk and language barriers. However, I have found that whilst some of this is true, there is a real sense of desire to change the system for the improvement and quality of education which will impact on the pupils.
Speaking with the Pricipal at one school, we were told how the word teacher is changed to ‘facilitator’ and how 99% corporal punishment has been eradicated at their school. Furthermore, whist there is still a lot of teacher talk, they are trying to make lessons more engaging and fun. Part of the problem is not that Nepalese teachers can’t engage students but rather that they simply don’t have the resources. The training we provided was about giving them ideas and games to use incorporated with the content they have to teach.
Upon observing some teachers, we found that they would teach half of what they were supposed to teach (from the many textbooks they use) and half random but fun games from the training. I think this was becuase we were there in front of them. Although it was lovely to see that they were creating fun, we will now need to work on enabling the teachers to think for themselves how to teach the content through the games. We have also seen more opportunities for teamwork since the training but moving the furniture is impossible for collaboration in some rooms as there are small rows of benches squashed in between 4 walls. It isn’t practical.
The language barrier is partly a problem but many do learn English and we have found we can have a translator at the very least.
The boys seem to take a leading role in things too which is true of what we know about the culture. However, more and more girls now attend school and I’d say it was almost 50/50 in the classes we saw. It was the boys who were always keen to say welcome and to dance, sing and even beatbox for us!
The main things I noticed that were the same actually made me smile:
1. They had some displays on the wall including a birthday board, groups and even ‘what we are learning’ in one class. They also seemed to display class rules in some schools.
2. Technology is utilised! Private schools certainly teach Computing and some schools even have a ‘computer lab’. It isn’t like our curriculum as they learn how to turn it on, how to open a document and how to save but it’s a start In a technological world. In addition, I saw one teacher use her phone to play music for children to dance to and another asked a pupil to take a picture of us with her phone.
3. Pupils talk in class. Here they call it side talking but there are still those children who seek to chat to their friends when the teacher is talking. There seems to be a higher tolerance for this as the teachers ignore it for a long time and sometimes nothing is ever done to address this behaviour unlike in the UK where we would use a range of strategies. It is something that the teachers were trained on over the weekend – how to get all of the students attention.
And best of all… pupils are still as smiley, cheeky and caring as anywhere else in the world. It is a real privilege to be here.