April 19 2018
Altruism requires careful investigation and discernment in order to be effective. It is similar to the Buddhist view of compassion, which implies that compassion without wisdom is blind and wisdom wi...
In Nepal, the quality of education in many public schools, also known as government or community schools, is quite poor. There are a multitude of reasons for this, some of which are the consequence of challenging ground realities and differences in management methodologies.
Karuna-Shechen is working hard to reverse this situation. We began by initially opening new schools, but now our interventions focus on coherent management, financial and material support to existing ones.
But we do much more than that: we strive to put in place systems that prevent schools from becoming dependent on long-term external aid. We also recognize that every child is different and that this diversity should be respected and embraced!
Our Nepal Country Director Sanjeev Pradhan explains our approach to education:
What are the main challenges Nepalese community schools face?
Around 80% of Nepalese children, and almost all of those who live in rural Nepal, study in community schools.
Most villages in the Himalayas are remote and rural, this poses additional challenges to efficiently manage, supervise and monitor these community schools. Because of these challenges, it is difficult, at times, to adequately motivate students and the community.
What improvements have you observed in the schools that have received Karuna-Shechen’s support?
For the last few years we have been diligently engaged in community schools and there has been a phenomenal rise in the interest of the local community, which translates to participatory management and closer monitoring of the schools, and to better education for the students. The school management team and the teachers and the students involved have reported that they are much more fulfilled because of these successes with their community school.
In 2018, because of the success of our programs, we are ending our support to 28 schools across the country. We are very pleased with this accomplishment and how these schools have evolved. They are now ready to be independently run and still offer access to quality education. It is a wonderful achievement! It is now time for Karuna-Shechen to move on and offer our support to new establishments.
Why is the local community’s involvement so central to Karuna-Shechen’s education strategy?
The community must see value in their local school, as well as the important role they must play in ensuring that it thrives and fulfills its core purpose. They must begin to play a proactive role in the school’s operations as well as its supervision and monitoring. As soon as this can be achieved, positive changes can occur and be sustained.
This is why Karuna-Shechen collectively implements management protocols with members of the community. The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), the School Management Committee, and the faculty and the students, all become aware of the aspects and issues concerning their school.
What other strategies do you put in place to boost the quality of education without creating dependency on external aid?
Another vital component of our program is teaching school representatives how to network with the government’s education department, which is the main source of funds and support for the schools.
Our material and human resources support is also kept at a level where the community can take over from where we leave off. For instance, to ensure schools can retain teachers after our support ends, we hire them locally, and their salaries are determined by the school management according to local living standards.
In all this, we try to ensure that the schools will ultimately serve as excellent working models that can be emulated and replicated in other community schools, additionally helping to generate practical and positive changes in existing education policies.
All children are different. How do you ensure that their individuality is respected and that they are all given a chance to fulfill their potential?
We must acknowledge and respect all skills and professions, from the sweeper, to the doctor, to the farmer, to the president, and use these skills with a passion for the benefit of humankind. This always has and always will be the root resource for a better world.
Accordingly, our focus is on all students – those who are academically capable and those who are not, with extra activities that gently expose students to other interests and vocations that might open the doors to their inner skills.
We will continue our work until these schools have become sustainable learning centers and have grown beyond their conventional walls, beyond grades and rankings, beyond certificates and awards, beyond passing and failing, and beyond winning and losing.
With the help of Karuna-Shechen, children learn to walk hand-in-hand, leaving no one behind, where learning benevolence is an intrinsic part of the learning process.
We will help children learn to use, as well as pass on to others, knowledge and skills, for the benefit of all. And we will persevere until we begin to see signs that the next generation will rise; and we will find hope for a better future for our world through them.
April 12 2018
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