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Transforming Nepal through teacher training

BMS World Mission worker Annie Brown and the team at KISC EQUIP are training Nepal’s teachers – and changing the country’s future

We often take it for granted, but those of us who grew up getting a good education are very lucky. Without it, our lives would probably look very different. We wouldn’t get to spend five minutes of our lives reading this great story for example, because we wouldn’t be able to read. And not being able to read would have much greater ramifications too.
“Sixty years ago, only three per cent of people in Nepal could read or write,” says Annie Brown, BMS teacher trainer based in Kathmandu.

The education system in Nepal has already grown enormously since then. Most primary aged children in Nepal are now in school, and 57.4 per cent of Nepalis aged 15 and above can read and write. But the education system still relies heavily on rote learning, where children memorise word for word what they are taught, and then recite it back. This means that often children don’t really understand and process what they are being taught. 
Getting children to engage with their studies is tough – whatever country you are in. But Annie and the team at the Kathmandu International Study Centre’s (KISC) Educational Quality Improvement Programme (EQUIP) are trying to help Nepal’s teachers to find more creative ways to teach their pupils, because as the children become more active in their studies they will also become more interested. And then hopefully they will leave school with knowledge that will help them to choose their own future.

“Most of these teachers have never experienced anything other than rote learning,” says Annie. So the first challenge is getting the teachers themselves to engage with a different type of classroom experience. Annie and the other teacher trainers at EQUIP – both Nepali and international – travel to schools in six districts of Nepal, hoping to inspire teachers to try new things and to give them confidence in their ability as teachers and in the importance of their role.

During the training, Annie gets the teachers to play the part of students, so that they can see how the learning experience changes when you are doing a problem-solving activity or a craft – something very familiar in UK schools but rare in Nepal.

“It’s about transforming the way that teachers deliver their teaching in school,” says Annie, “using more creative and problem-solving methods to enable them to be the best that they can be, and through that to transform communities across Nepal.”
The training is already making a difference. Over the last three months Annie has revisited the ten schools she is working with in the Lamjung and Palpa districts of Nepal, and she has received hugely encouraging feedback. One teacher told her: “I was like a person riding a horse without any knowledge of it. After the training I realised that teachers are like a candle. Teachers light others.”
And that’s exactly what the EQUIP trainers want the teachers to see: their potential to give children the light of knowledge, a light that can change the country’s future.

“My hope for the future for the teachers of Nepal is that slowly, by transforming and changing a few who have a passion, the children they teach will know the difference,” says Annie. “It may take a generation for true change to come – but to make sustainable change you have to impact the teacher who impacts the child.”

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This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission 





BMS World Mission, 30/03/2015
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