PHASE works closely with communities in isolated Himalayan villages in Nepal. For nearly a decade we have helped to empower these communities to access healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities in a sustainable way.
Following the earthquakes in April and May last year the PHASE education projects have continued to run in all five PHASE-supported project areas. In Sindhupalchowk, a district severely affected by the earthquake, 50 teachers received psycho-social training as part of the emergency response. The Nepal Teacher Training Innovations (NTTI) and PHASE have funded 30 teachers in subject specific training, such as English and Maths, and 18 teachers from 14 different schools undertook Awareness Level training between July and October.
Awareness Level training is essential as many government-sponsored teacher training sessions in Nepal focus on preparing students for their exams, rather than promoting student engagement. As a result teachers often do not learn how to deliver information in an accessible, child-friendly way. Awareness Level training introduces teachers to best teaching practices and trains them how to teach rather than what to teach. In this student-centred model, the teacher facilitates the learning process instead of just disseminating information; rather than simply lecturing, the teachers learn to ask questions that encourage students to discover the answers for themselves and to make their own connections.
In child-friendly learning environments, in which students feel safe to share their ideas and take intellectual risks, information is communicated in a number of ways (such as visual, auditory and tactile). This ensures that all students can access the information regardless of their learning styles. Teachers are also trained in writing effective lesson plans, conducting on-going formal and informal assessments, asking open-ended questions to encourage critical and creative thinking, and providing effective student support and feedback.
This type of training has helped teachers like Goma to deliver high quality education to the children in her class. When Goma enters her grade four classroom the students greet her excitedly as they know that they will having a maths lesson.
“Children, what do you know about angles?’’ she asks ‘’Can you show me some angles around the classroom?”
The students raise their hands with enthusiasm. Later the students make acute, obtuse and right angles with their elbows, then gather in groups to discuss and solve problems. Goma describes how the PHASE and NTTI training sessions enabled her to encourage this curiosity and enthusiasm in the classroom:
“My way of teaching has been transformed and I feel that I can now effectively employ the best teaching practices in the classroom. The training session was full of great ideas like using algebra tiles to explain the difficult concepts of negative addition and subtraction to the children. Thank you PHASE Nepal for making this possible.”
In Bajura the PHASE Nepal education programmes have also been successful and 58 teachers received Awareness Level training in this region. Bir Jung Shahi, the Principal of Budhinanda Primary School in Kolti, Bajura describes the training sessions at the school:
“The PHASE-NTTI approach is unique. Before the training begins the teachers are observed in the classroom – any missing elements are then addressed in the training sessions. Many teachers from my school were observed for the first time and the PHASE Nepal teacher training has rejuvenated their enthusiasm. It has been a great opportunity and we teachers are now sharing ideas with each other. There is also an environment of interaction in the school. One of the best parts of the training sessions is the continuous follow up support and feedback that PHASE provide.”
Two adult literacy groups (funded by DFID via PHASE Worldwide) are also taking place in Wai and Kolti, Bajura. Each group is made up of around 25 adults. The Wai group (pictured below) have graduated level 1 and are now studying level 2! A participant of the Adult Literacy Class describes their progress:
“We could not even write our names, we were completely in the dark. We express our sincere thanks to PHASE Nepal for working so hard for 6 months to make us literate. I can now read newspapers and do sums by myself. I hope we get additional classes in the future.”
In Gorkha, a region which was badly affected by the earthquakes, two alternative schools (co-funded by PHASE Worldwide and PHASE Austria) have continued to operate successfully: Taju Alternative School has merged with Siddha Ganesh Primary School and now has a total of 37 students who are taught by Kalpana Shrestha (a PHASE staff member) and two other teachers. 15 new students also joined Yarchu Alternative School this year, bringing the total number of students to 33 (funded by PHASE Austria and The British and Foreign School Society).