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Originally posted on Satis Shroff's ZEITGEISTLITERATURE | Just another WordPress.com … https://satisshroff.wordpress.com/:
A Gurkha Mother’s Tears (Satis Shroff) (Death of a Precious Jewel) A Nepalese mother sits in…
BUILDING SCHOOLS IN RURAL NEPAL (Satis Shroff)
Before the earthquake in the Nepal the school buildings were so dark that the school-children couldn’t see what was written on the blackboard. The old method of bricks and clay couldn’t withstand the devastating quakes, and a result the walls fell like a house of cards. The Swiss Caritas schools will have enough windows and doors, with good architecture to motivate better learning.
According to Marilyn Hoar, the classes are mostly big and a Nepali teacher has 70 pupils in a room. In Nepali schools there are only frontal lessons and no group work, no interactive learning. This is due to the deficient pedagogic education of the teachers in general in Nepal. ‘90% of the teachers have no idea of didactic and teaching-methods,’ says Anil Sapkota, from the NGO FairEducation. ‘The state should invest more for the further education of teachers,’ he says.
In many schools in Nepal teaching is done like in the times of Pestalozzi: dark, narrow classrooms, with no chairs and only long benches on which a lot of Nepalese pupils have to squeeze themselves, and a fixed blackboard. Toilets are in bad state and most without water. The children have to repeat the teacher recites in front of the class. And learn it by heart. ‘The children have to earn Chemistry formulae by rote, without knowing what it’s about,’ says Anil Sapkota.
That reminds me of the Vedic prayers I had to learn from my Mom. It took me a good many years till I understood what I was reciting all the time in my childhood. Ditto with poems by English poets at an elite Irish school.
Nepal is a landlocked country with over 27 million people, a territory of 141,181 square kilometers and is three times as big as Switzerland. Nepal has a new constitution since 2015, which the Indian PM Modi wants to be changed. Nepal is divided into the hills (parbat) and the lowlands (madesh) an the people living in the Mahabharat and Siwalik hills are called ‘parbateys’ (hillfolk) by the lowlanders (madeshis).
Along with the new constitution, Nepal’s politicians have decided to re-divide the country from formerly 14-zones during the Panchayat Era to a 7-zone state. The hillfolk are contented with the new proposals but a section of the lowlanders are discontented, and have blocked the transit and trade route from Nepal to India.
The blockade, though officially denied in the media by the Indian government, has shown that Nepal, though a sovereign state, is heavily dependent on India for trade, oil, petrol and the use of Indian harbor facilities to carry out international trade.
In the case of Bhutan and Sikkim, it was relatively easy for India to take over the defence of these small, former protectorates. India fought a war in the Himalayas against China in 1962 and was humiliated. Since then it has been wary of the Chinese on the other side of the Himalayas. Bhutan’s policy was to keep out the low-budget tourists and only to let in rich tourists. The concerned officials in Thimpu, as well as the Bhutanese King had seen the example of Nepal, which was a hippie paradise in the early seventies. In a clever political chess-movement, the Nepalis who were living peacefully in the Dragon Kingdom, were obliged to the country as they were declared as ‘Lhotsampas,’ that is, people who refused to be Bhutanese by wearing the national dress, and taking Bhutanese customs and traditions. The ethnic Nepali refugees from Bhutan were granted temporary asylum in Nepal in Nepal’s eastern border settlements, and a sizeable number of them have found new homes in Canada and the USA.
Whereas the Bhutanese Nepalis have headed west, discrimination, exploitation von minorities and undercastes and casteless people, women and children is still rampant. These people are protected theoretically by the Nepalese constitution—but the reality is different. This is also one of the reasons for the political unrest in the country. Over 23,8% of the population lives under the poverty line. In the rural areas of Nepal the state of hygiene is precarious. Only 20% of the households have a latrine and only a half of the population has access to clear, drinkable water. The annual death toll of children under 5 years is 13,000 caused primarily by the polluted and infected drinking water and lack of hygiene.
There have been a few improvements after the decade long war between the Maoists and the Royal government forces. But a lot has yet to be done in Nepal.
The tectonic earthquake of April 25,2015 with a strength of 7,6 to 7,8 on the Richter Scale caused the death of over 9000 Nepalese. According to the government half a million houses were destroyed—among them historical monuments, pagodas, shrines and other buildings. A third of Nepal’s population suffered from the consequences of catastrophic quakes.
Caritas Switzerland is planning to build 34 new school buildings in Sindhupalchowk district in cooperation with Helvetas. The construction is to begin in the middle of February 2016. The school buildings will c financed by Caritas (54,3%), Glückskette (40%) and Helvetas (6%). The total sum is expected to be 9,1 million Swiss franks.
If you’d like to work in Nepal as a temporary teacher or if you’re a student in a higher semester and would like to do your practical training in Nepal for a few months here are some links:
www.easy-go-easy-com.org / info (at)for-fair-education.org