KTS Primary School and Nursery – Nepal 2014
Jane Southward is an avid People Tree customer. She contacted us recently about volunteering with one of our producer groups KTS in Nepal. Here’s an insight of her time spent with the children and teachers.
As a long time supporter of Kumbeshwar Technical School following a visit in 1996, I have received their annual reports one of which spoke of a volunteer program. Last year I decided to be brave and to offer my services to KTS Primary School for the summer. I am an experienced primary school teacher in the UK and was keen to go to Nepal and help in any way I could.
KTS Primary school and nursery were set up to help the poorest children in Patan. The school is funded through the sales of knitwear, carpets and woodwork as well as the Worldwide Friends of Kumbeshwar Kids and the Jersey 52 club. Education is provided free of charge, as are all the materials the children need, plus the younger children get food once or twice a day.
After being accepted to the volunteer program I very much enjoyed organising the logistics of the trip including reading up on Nepal and the Kathmandu Valley. Friends were intrigued and asked how they could help. This is how I ended up with nearly 600 children’s books for the school. It was necessary to filter them for condition and content but I ended up with 231 books in mint condition for the primary school.
Two local choirs donated the proceeds of their summer concert to the fund to shipping the books over and this was arranged while I was there through the shipping company used locally by KTS. The school were delighted…other than the librarian who has to manually catalogue and cover them all!
On arriving at the school – nervously – I was greeted warmly and asked to observe lessons for a week. This I did, joining in with the music, maths, social and English classes and trying my best with the Nepali classes (I didn’t do very well at all!). It was fascinating to watch the different teaching methods and to learn from the Nepalese teachers, especially how to teach without all the equipment available in UK schools.
At the staff meeting on the first Friday I was amused to be able to get the gist of the conversation, in Nepali, as it was very much the same topics as staff meetings in the UK! The teachers asked me for training but when I asked what they would like training on they replied that they didn’t know and I needed to tell them.
Luckily I had a meeting set up with Harihar, a local teacher trainer in Nepal. We spent several hours talking and discussing what could work. On retuning to the school I checked my plans with the teachers then planned lessons, schemes of work and created resources. I had determined that they would like a way of talking with children about more difficult, personal topics, so introduced circle time to facilitate this. It was a big culture shock for us all – for me, working without a photocopier or printer; for the children, who were thrown by the new methods and expectations; and for the teachers, who were so very keen to learn.
We settled down into a routine of me teaching and demonstrating as many different techniques and ideas as I could fit into the time, and then, more importantly, discussions over cups of tea in the library about teaching generally. The teachers were so kind, friendly and supportive and I felt at home with them very quickly. I was immensely touched when, at the end of my stay, they threw a birthday party for me complete with cake and balloons. I miss them all.
On returning to the UK there was enough money left from the fundraising prior to going to buy the school a much yearned after printer and I managed to raise enough regular donations to fund the running costs on a monthly basis. I was also able to send out a further 2 boxes of teaching resources and audio CDs. In February I held a Nepalese evening at the local Nepalese restaurant. This raised £700 which went directly to the school for resources bought locally.
People Tree buys products from the vocational training and manufacturing units at KTS and their knitwear is exquisite. At the primary school all children are taught to knit and sew so that they have a skill to help them earn money once they leave. This embodies the ethos of the school – empowering people to be able to be independent and to work their way out of poverty with support. The children are encouraged to aim high and the teachers strive for the very best for them.
I hope I was able to make a difference and to support the work out there. I have committed to continuing to fundraise and to send out teaching resources for the staff. Ultimately I would love to be able to fund some teachers to visit the UK to see a British school and receive further training…it’s good to have an aim!!
Full details of my time at the school and further photographs can be found at http://kumbeshwar.blogspot.co.uk/