Rural Community Foundation: Kushadevi Model School

The Kushadevi Model School project is the result of a long standing partnership with Rural Community Foundation Nepal (RCF), to develop an interactive and child centred learning environment, which was based specifically on the lessons learned from the ‘Act on Education’ (AoE) project. The focus of the project is a government school in Kushadevi, 40 km from Kathmandu, in a relatively rural area where educational attainment has traditionally been low. The primary aim of this project is to build on our early attempts to implement the lessons learned from AoE; in order to corroborate the evidence that a holistic approach to schooling can significantly enhance the quality and access to education.

There are several reasons the quality of education across Nepal is of a significantly low standard. There is no creative teaching-learning environment in state schools. Primary level education receives little attention nationally. Teachers are poorly trained, poorly paid, and therefore do not have the skills or motivation to teach well. Furthermore, as AoE has demonstrated, there is not enough communication and collaboration between the multiple stakeholders involved in education (teacher, parents, local authorities, students, employers, etc.) to ensure that education is child-centred and valued.

FtL worked in close partnership with RCF, the Kushadevi School Management Committee (SMC), and the local community, with the primary aim of this project to transform a local government school into an educational environment to equal that of any private in Nepal, in order to illustrate that the young people of Nepal do not have to accept that a sub-standard education is inevitable.

In order to do this, we have been developing a creative, child-centred teaching/learning environment; with professional well-trained teachers, and a supportive and well-informed community network. Teachers are supported by skilled and experienced professionals from other areas, such as child psychology and arts therapy (particularly relevant after the recent earthquake).

Drawing on the work of AoE, last year we made some modest improvements to the school which yielded some impressive results. We have reduced average dropout rates across age groups. This year 47.43% students passed their School Leaving Certificates (SLC); on average only 33% of students passed this exam from other government schools in Nepal. Attaining an SLC is absolutely vital for progressing to Further and Higher Education and gaining a good job. Those who do not achieve an SLC generally live a very poor and sub-standard life in Nepal, or migrate to gulf countries to be exploited as manual labourers.

After this initial project, FtL & RCF plan to work with additional schools to replicate the model and learning developed in Kushadevi, thereby multiplying the impact and outcomes of this project. Partners within the Ministry of Education and District Education Office have visited the school and are working closely with Kushadevi SMC to assess the process and model school methods for their future planning.

In order to continue and develop the impressive outcomes already achieved in Kushadevi this project requires resources to:

-Run teacher training programmes which develop creative and child-centred approaches and methods to education.
-Improve the school classrooms and surroundings with new books, school furniture, learning equipment and resources.
-Provide wages for experienced and qualified teachers and support professionals.
-Continue to build the support networks AoE has shown are so vital for placing the school at the heart of a community and bringing relevant stakeholders together.

The difference this holistic approach has made to one school in tangible in every way when you walk through the school gates. We know that when we first arrived at Kushadevi 5 yrs ago, many of the children did not have the confidence to speak up. Many of then had no uniform, no tiffin, and many of the teachers did not even turn up to school. The creative approaches of AoE has turned this around. This takes a high level of effort, training, commitment and hard work from all those involved. We would like to show our immense appreciation for the belief all the partners have had in making things better for the students of Kushadevi.

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