This year’s 2017/18 project was particularly exciting as it marked the first of our 3-year mission at Nepal. We partnered with the Rural Education and Environment Development Centre (REED – Nepal) which shared our vision of equality and quality in education. In mid-July, four members of our committee visited the Sindhuli district to meet the local committee of REED, managing committee of the schools and to familiarise ourselves with the local environment. We successfully held our 8-day service trip from 1st – 8th September, 2018 with a total of 13 volunteers joining the trip. Despite an overnight stay in Dhaka on our first day due to unexpected flight diversion, we managed to follow our itinerary and have 5 days of teaching at the schools.
The teaching was conducted across 3 schools in the Sindhuli district. Our target students range from the age of 11 to 14 (grades 6 to 9). Prior to the trip, we held training workshops with volunteers to better understand the Nepali students’ educational needs, improve our teaching skills and prepare lesson plans in groups. We also received an overview of the Nepali curriculum which helped us prepare relevant teaching materials.
During the training workshops, volunteers are encouraged to design new activities and methods of teaching English as well as extra-curricular activities (arts, science, music etc.). This gives the volunteers a more involved role in designing and executing lessons for the children as well as evaluating the pros and cons afterwards. During the trip, evaluation of the day’s teaching and preparation of the following day’s teaching was done every day.
This year, we focused our efforts on teaching English only. The major focus of the Nepali curriculum is on language competency through practising four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Our volunteers believe there are various interesting yet effective ways of learning the English language. The curriculum provides for classroom activities, such as storytelling, role play, pair work, group discussion and use of pictures. We tried our best to promote ‘activity-based learning’ by using different activities and games to reinforce what the students have learnt.
In the afternoons, our volunteers carried out 2-hour extra-curricular activities. Our well-received ECA plans sparked the local teachers’ curiosity and opened the door to future collaboration with REED on teachers’ training, an area in which REED has extensive experience. Most of our ECA plans consist of guided discovery tasks as a way of making the whole inductive process more student-driven and inquiry-based. Volunteers gave students tasks to complete individually or in collaboration so as to encourage them to think independently, ask questions and find solutions through exploration. The response was remarkable as students applied their own knowledge and exercised reasoning skills in the process. When volunteers came to explain the science behind the experiments, students were more eager to listen and learn from their mistakes.
While macroscopically it may seem like not much could be achieved within one week, it is important to remember the main goals of CHOICE: raising awareness, instilling hope and igniting passion. While it may not be possible to see a great improvement in the English level of students, we tried our best to ignite the passion for learning in students as well as the passion for teaching in teachers at the three schools.
Each of the volunteers would easily recall several heart-warming interactions with the children in Nepal and the eagerness of the children learning in the classrooms. This demonstrates that while we may not be able to have an impact on the Nepalese curriculum or overall teaching quality in Nepal, we can have a great impact on the students we meet and teach at the three schools and give them a memory of a lifetime.
The success of this service trip is the fruition of the tremendous amount effort put in by committee members and volunteers. We would also like to thank the people at REED (Ujjwal, Junila and Khadga) for making the trip possible and for your great support throughout the trip. Being the first of our 3-year mission at Nepal, we look forward to continuing our partnership with REED and teaching in the Sindhuli region in the years to come.
Check out our volunteers’ answers to 13 different questions in the section below!