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The Australian Himalayan Foundation’s first Teacher Training & Quality Education (TTQE) program was inspired by the work of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust that has benefited the Everest (Khumbu) district of Nepal since 1961. In 2005, the Australian Himalayan Foundation first started working with local Nepalese NGO, REED (Rural Education & Environmental Development) to develop a program to improve the quality of education in the Everest district.
Nepal faces large disparities in literacy rates between urban and rural areas, with urban areas recording literacy rates of approximately 73%, but only reaching 43% on average in rural areas. In addition, teachers in rural Nepal receive little or no training and regularly resort to basic rote-learning methods. As a result, attendance rates by teachers and students alike are poor, and schools are very inadequately resourced. These conditions mean that in rural Nepal today, many children do not attend primary school regularly and less than half of the children enrolled in primary school go on to complete secondary school.
The TTQE program aims to reduce poverty and provide livelihood opportunities through a number of key objectives focussed on ensuring that disadvantaged communities in the Lower Solu Khumbu receive a quality education.
2014 marked an enormous milestone for the AHF with the roll out our Teacher-Training and Quality Education program to the last remaining districts of Kerung and Necha.
This now means the TTQE program operates in every single district and reaches every single school in the lower Solu Khumbu region. This achievement is part of a twelve-year vision the AHF had for the region - one aimed squarely at improving the quality of and the access to a life changing education. This momentous task could not have been achieved without your remarkable support and for this we thank you enormously.
Our Approach to Sustainable Development
AHF’s development approach is to help the people of the Himalaya achieve their development goals through sustainable programs in education, health and the environment. Integral to this approach is AHF’s relationship with selected national NGOs who demonstrate a strong track record in community development with AHF providing support for administration, program management, training and monitoring. It is an approach that aims to ensure that local communities are empowered to manage programs in an inclusive and sustainable manner. Through these partnerships, AHF strives to ensure that its activities align to national priorities and to work with government agencies at national and district levels.
Our flagship TTQE program currently represents approximately 75% of AHF program spend. One of only two teacher-training programs formally accredited by the Nepal Department of Education, the twelve-year TTQE program has been described as one of the most comprehensive programs undertaken in rural Nepal. Your funding supports TTQE workshops that train teachers and develop a cadre of Nepalese teacher trainers (Key Teachers) to help improve the educational outcomes of children across the region.
Our Focus Region during 2014 - Necha & Kerung
Our TTQE program is divided into five three-year project cycles and is currently focused on the new districts of Necha and Kerung. These are two of the remotest districts in the region located well away from the tourist trails, with Necha located at the most southerly point of the Solu Khumbu.
The project follows the successful implementation of previous projects conducted in the Lower Khumbu district (2005 to 2008), the Sotang district (2008 to 2011) and the Nele district (2011 and 2014). Project objectives in the new regions of Necha and Kerung are aligned with the over-arching TTQE program objectives and include:
Project objectives are achieved by ensuring that the REED and Australian trainers conducting the workshops are conversant with child centered teacher-training techniques. They also provide training to improve classroom delivery and subject training as well as providing mechanisms for reliable quality assessment of student achievement.
Project sustainability is supported by approaches through the training of key teachers, by close liaison with school management and village development committee workshops and ensuring that activities are aligned with the Nepal Department of Education at a country, regional and district level.
The first round of training commenced in the new districts of Necha and Kerung in November last year, marking the completion of training in all 300 primary schools in the Solu Khumbu. It was with great excitement that we witnessed this training occur, as it meant the program had successfully reached every corner of the Solu Khumbu, supporting many children desperately in need of a quality education.
During 2014, two teacher-training workshops on child friendly education were held for the first time in Necha and Kerung with over 420 teachers and a 47% female participation. This training took place in addition to the regular training held in Sotang and Nele.
Another integral component of the TTQE program is our ‘Community Orientation Workshop’ which benefited over 8000 community members last year – mainly parents, guardians and teachers, many of whom are semi-literate or illiterate in this remote mountain area. These workshops provide a forum to discuss child-friendly education, child rights and the responsibility of parents in education and help to train and establish school management committees and parent-teacher associations.
In total, the AHF conducted over 70 different training workshops with more than 3000 teachers receiving training throughout the year. In addition, 20 highly qualified volunteers from across Australia and New Zealand travelled to Nepal throughout 2014 to participate in the training of local teachers.
We are extremely proud to have reached such a milestone with the assistance of The Footprints Network. Your support made these achievements possible and we are immensely grateful for such a fantastic partnership. We look forward to building on these results with you as we continue our roll out into the districts of Necha and Kerung in 2015 and begin scoping what areas most in need of our future support outside the Solu Khumbu.
At the end of 2017 we will have trained teachers from over 307 schools in five different districts and will have provided a quality education to more than 35,000 students.
The AHF is now currently in discussions with the National Centre for Education Development in Nepal regarding the future rollout of the TTQE program beyond the Solu Khumbu. The Ministry of Education invited the AHF to discuss these plans last year and this certainly speaks to the significant outcomes of the program and the strong relationship we enjoy with the government of Nepal. We are also excited to have been approached by the Royal Government of Bhutan to replicate the program in rural Bhutan and we will begin scoping a pilot program there later this year.
It was also heartening to have a field visit by the Australian Aid program that visited some of our schools and observed the program in action. DFAT identified the program as being highly valued within Nepal and was successfully meeting its objectives, particularly through changing the teacher culture to support child friendly schools.
We thank you for your ongoing support as we expand our activities in this way.
Our Impact in the Solu Khumbu Case Study
Laxman Karki is a primary school teacher working in the Nele district of the Solu Khumbu region of Nepal. Like most of his contemporaries Laxman only received rudimentary training before becoming a teacher. He relied heavily on traditional teaching methods and had little comprehension of child friendly education methods or professional classroom management.
Three years ago training commenced in the Nele district and REED soon identified Laxman’s potential as a talented teacher. Following initial training that attracted over 90% of the primary school teachers in the district, Laxman was selected to attend the ‘key teacher’ workshops that provide further intensive training for the brightest and most highly motivated teachers in the district.
According to Laxman the training provided an exceptional impetus to his career. “Within the first few days of the initial training workshop my eyes were opened. I began to realise that the REED trainers could open up so many possibilities. Before the end of the first 10-day workshop I was already re-planning my classes. I had learned to use different teaching techniques like gallery work, field trips, experiments, mobile trees, jigsaws, mind mapping, active reading and project work.”
With the addition of educational resources provided by AHF, Laxman says he has not only been been able to improve classroom management and the performance of the weaker students, he has also seen improvements in overall student attendance.
AHF has also been able to translate the value of education throughout the wider community. According to Laxman the introduction of School Management and Community workshops has made his job far easier. “Before the workshops parents rarely visited the school. Now the parents are more aware for the need for education. They have become more involved in schools activities and have taken interest in the progress of their children. Enrollment rates are getting better every year”.
Laxman will continue his training at the key teacher workshops where he will improve and extend his capacity as a teacher so that eventually he will be able to support and train his fellow teachers and, in turn, improve the quality of education received by all the children in this remote corner of Nepal.