Mission Possible

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Firstly, apologies all it has been a while since my last post.  Work at the Ministry of Education has been getting busier and more exciting by the day.

One of the pivotal events at the Foreign Aid Coordination Section (the department that I work in, at the Ministry of Education), is the Joint Annual Review (JAR) Mission.  This mission, as it is termed takes place over two weeks during the end of May. The JAR Mission is a wide Nepal Education Sector review, conducted by the key International donors, such as the European Union, the World Bank and the Embassies of Finland and Norway (DFID have sadly withdrawn their funding support last year).

I was very privileged to be able to attend one of the field visits associated with the mission, where I accompanied 6 of the donors on a 3 day visit to the Parsa District.
Our objective was to meet with the District Education Officer, local education officials, Unicef regional staff, head teachers, teachers, parents, School Management Committee and Parent Teacher Association members and of course the children themselves.  Our primary role was to observe and partially evaluate aspects such as access/equity particularly with marginalised and disabled children; provision of textbooks; micro level school planning and so on
Day 1
Our 12 seater flight

Our Buddha Airlines 12 seater – did I mention that we touched down at a sweltering 46C in Parsa.

 

 

15mins flight on Buddha Airlines, which was delayed for 3 hours and impacted on our whole visit schedule, yet I was assured flying would still be much faster and safer than the 6 hours drive through the mountains to Parsa.
  • DEO Presentation Introduction
  • Urban Out of School Program

NDiscussion with parents at the Urban Out of School Program
Discussion with parents at the Urban Out of School Program

  • Night Secondary School
 Day 2  

  • Primary School
Being greeted with garlands at the schools.

Being greeted with garlands at the schools.

 

A classroom - one of the children started crying as I approached her...

My first classroom visit – one of the children started crying as I approached her…

Another classroom

Another classroom.  N.B. I only looked through the window this time!

 

 

 

 

 

  • Unicef Gender Friendly Lower Secondary School
Daphne and the young champions who mentor girls and those who drop out of school.

Daphne and the young champions who mentor girls and those who drop out of school.

Gender friendly classroom with cushions made the mothers group

Gender friendly classroom with cushions made the local mothers group

 

 

Studying hard

Studying hard

 

  • Teacher Training Center
  • District Education Officer Feedback and Response to Questions from Day 1

Day 3

  • Madrasa (Muslim) Primary School or Higher Secondary School
The infants class at the Madrasha village school

The infants class at the Madrasha village school

The inspirational volunteer head teacher.

The inspirational volunteer head teacher.

Return flight at 9.30am and back to the office to write up the report and prepare for the week long JAR public meeting.
So what did I learn from my first ever Nepal school visits:
  • Parents in deprived areas such as the outskirts of Birgunj, do not want to send their children to school.  They cannot afford the school uniforms and they feel that the family would not survive if their children did not tend the livestock, etc.  Out of school programs need to have a holistic approach offering healthcare, livelihoods – income generating schemes as well as local schools.
  • They are some pretty determined children, who despite working the whole day as domestics or mechanics etc, still continue their studies at night school.
  • The vast differences in teaching methods, you can see the joy of pupils attending gender friendly schools.  More of them please, from bright classrooms to girls and boys seated together.
  • The challenges in teaching computing and the sciences without the proper equipment, let alone electricity.
  • There are some amazing people in the world.  The Muslim school that we visited was led by a very young head teacher.  He had a vision to ensure all the children in his village had an education.  He attend al the district education policy meeting and has been able to secure funding to get more classes.  He has managed to get women to come onto the school board.  All this in 5 years and just as a volunteer, drawing a meagre community donation as a salary.
The above findings (and a lot, lot more) were presented at the wider JAR meeting, which lasted a very long week.  There were highs and lows, and drama throughout, especially when everyone had to shout out their funding commitment for the following year, including the Ministry.    Here’s a diagram (thank you wordle) illustrating some the issues discussed at the JAR.
The field trip and the follow up JAR has reinforced why I am here.  If I can help the Ministry and the donors to implement policies and funding streams that can help districts like Parsa, in just a small way, then my 2 years here will have been worth every single day.

 

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About Daphne

I’m Daphne, normally live in Vauxhall, London. I am blogging to keep track of my adventures. After volunteering for 3 years with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), in Nepal, at the Ministry of Education in Kathmandu, I am now in Tanzania, volunteering with VSO on a Youth Economic Empowerment Project.

6 responses »

  1. Thank you for enlightening us Daphne. Keep up the good work my girl. I’m pretty sure you will find a way to make a difference in some way to these young people who so desperately want to be educated. Lots of love. Mum xx

  2. I’m with “Mum” on this – great report! This so much reminds me of my time in India. The absolute frustration when young girls or boys drop out of school to return to lives of labouring. You’re right, a holistic approach (as with the young mentors) seems the way to go, to give these kids a chance to realise their potentials and dreams. Makes me even more keen to get back out there!
    Clive

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