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Project: Teaching in Nepal
Like many developing countries, Nepal struggles to educate its population -- especially the girls and women, who spend much of their time working at home and elsewhere in the effort to maintain their families and stay off the streets.
Many volunteers from United Planet work at a school founded by a local visionary named Uttam Sanjel, who is working hard to provide a decent, affordable education to poverty-stricken children throughout Nepal.
A recent report from a volunteer
The school rooms are filled with many benches on dirt floors. They are positioned in front of long, thin tables illuminated only by the light coming in through the lattice and spaces between bamboo walls. A few light bulbs are hung strategically to illuminate the darkest corners. A blackboard, eraser and small pieces of chalk are the teaching materials.
Some content-area books exist, yet they are not culturally relevant and often contain vocabulary that is too advanced for the students. On the narrow benches sit forty-five to sixty-seven uniform-clad students, crammed so closely together there is hardly room to stand -- as is customary -- when called on to speak.
Because of the sheer number of students in one room, it is very difficult for teachers to learn everyone’s names – thus they sometimes resort to calling out numbers to identify them. A typical interaction between student and teacher goes something like ‘Student #42, what did you have for an answer to this homework question?’
The school is not able to supply typical items such as papers and pencils, computers or photo copiers. No gym or cafeteria, no rooms other than the school rooms themselves. There is no running water, other than a tap at the school’s entrance. Students have to bring their own pens and sometimes have to share. If one runs dry or breaks, it becomes very stressful for the kids. Basic supplies are clearly a valued commodity and not easily replaceable.
Despite the difficult conditions, the students are so eager to learn and happy to come to school every day. The children rejoice as they are taught songs such as “You are my sunshine” and the “Hokey Pokey.”
Tasks for Volunteers
Volunteer tasks vary by time of year, length of stay, skills and number of volunteers, and other factors. Some tasks for volunteers include:
- Assist the teachers with teaching and daily activities for the students.
- Assist in other forms such as leading group activities or creating plans and materials for the children to use, helping them with homework.
- Do creative activities with the children (go out with them to visit other places, play soccer with them, and spend time with them).
- Play with the children and give them the extra attention they need.