Author: Trishala Hirachan

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Discussion at Martin Chautari on Use ICT for learning in Nepali schools

July 26, 2016 | Kathmandu

Mr. Rabi Karmacharya, Executive Director of OLE Nepal participated in the Mangalbaarey Discussion at Martin Chautari on “Using ICT for learning in Nepali schools: Prospects and Challenges” held on July 26, 2016. Martin Chautari is a Kathmandu-based research institute focusing on democracy, media and education, with cross-cutting themes of gender and social inclusion. At the program, presentations were made by Mr. Narayan Krishna Shrestha, Deputy Director of Department of Education, Nepal, followed by Mr. Karmacharya of OLE Nepal, Mr. Sushil Upreti of Brush-Up Online and Mr. Chandan Mishra, a student at NYU.

MR. Shrestha

Deputy Director, Mr. Narayan Krishna Shrestha of Department of Education

Deputy Director Shrestha spoke about Nepal's ICT policy provisions and programs in the education sector with respect to enhancing the integration of ICT in public education and service delivery. He highlighted the government's directives on reducing the digital divide, and their efforts to change the school management system from paper-based system to an electronic, GIS-based system. He provided an overview of the budget allocations in the past few years to promote the use of ICT in education. He praised OLE Nepal’s pioneering work in the effective use of ICT in Nepal’s public schools, and added that Mr. Karmacharya played a significant role in developing the Government's ICT in Education Master Plan.

Mr. Karmacharya

Mr. Rabi Karmacharya, Executive Director, OLE Nepal

Next, Mr. Karmacharya discussed about the challenges faced by OLE Nepal during a decade long experience in the implementation of the program to introduce students to interactive digital learning materials using ICT in classrooms. So far, OLE Nepal has designed and developed CDC-approved curriculum-based interactive digital modules (E-Paath) from Grade 2-8, in partnership with Government of Nepal's Department of Education, UN World Food Programme, Finnish Embassy's Funds for Local Cooperation and other development partners. OLE Nepal also maintains a free online and offline digital library (E-Pustakalaya) with thousands of books, course materials, magazines, audio-visuals, learning software and many more educational materials.

In his presentation, Mr. Karmacharya highlighted that the challenges in ICT integration, especially in the public education system, could be seen in these different areas: technical limitations, financial constraints, training of teachers, and, administrative and behavioral challenges. He emphasized there has to be a level of cooperation between parties who are working in the field of ICT in education and also that a holistic approach is needed to overcome challenges in the overall teaching-learning process.

Mr. Upreti spoke about his teaching experiences using free online tools for management of assignments and video-based computer lessons for Grade 9 & 10. He also shared that these tools provide an effective and efficient platform for students to receive and submit assignments and for teachers to receive the same and deliver grades. Mr. Mishra shared his personal experiences and successes on the use of tutorial videos, which inspired him to start his own project of making instructional videos in Nepali language to enable students to learn at their own pace.

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The quest to go virtual

My Repulica | The Week Bureau

July 29, 2016 | Kathmandu

At a time when computers have become indispensable and people have begun relying on the Internet to perform more than 90 percent of their tasks, it’s no surprise that libraries too have found their place in the digital world. This trend of virtual libraries has already proven to be popular among the developed and developing countries and concerned parties in the under developed regions too are also working hard to bring its conveniences to its people.

Sajha Shikshya E-Paati, for instance, with their project E-Pustakalaya has already developed a collection of more than 7000 educational books and 3500 audio books based on various subjects from agriculture, health to literature. Further, their online library isn’t only accessible to city dwellers, they have developed a system that allows people from the rural areas to use their digital content as well. The Week talked to Tika Raj Karki, senior manager of Sajha Shikshya E-Paati to hear about their experience of running an e-library in our country.

What prompted your organization to start an online library?

We saw that there were various projects that were helping bring computers and laptops to schools but there weren’t many that supplied digital content. Owning computers alone can’t help with a student’s education so since we are a NGO that aims to help the education sector via technology, the initial idea was to open an e-library specifically with educational materials that could be useful for students. But later, the idea of an online library got a lot of interests from teachers, parents and the communities alike. They suggested that it would be very useful if there were books that would cater to them as well. We learnt that they too were keen to gather information on subjects like agriculture, animal husbandry, business and so on. So the E-Pustakalaya collection expanded to cover all these topics plus literature.

Tika-Raj-Karki

How is it that your online library is more popular in rural areas than urban cities?

Those in the cities have plenty of resources as it is. If they wish to get hold of a certain book, they can go to stores, download it from various sites or search for it on the Internet, but these options aren’t available to those living in the villages. It’s the main reason we also wanted to make sure this facility would be useful around Nepal. So while those with Internet can log on to www.pustakalaya.org, those without the Internet can also get these digital content offline. As long as you have a computer, we can help you download our collection in a server and set up a network. In these cases, we help update the server every six months.

People in the villages often want to learn things but they don’t always have the means. In such cases, online libraries, like E-Pustakalaya that provides free information, is bound to be popular.

What are the challenges of managing the logistics of such a program?

E-Pustakalaya has its own team and a committee. The committee decides on the kind of books we add to our online collection. It also stays in touch with various writers and publishers as well as the concerned government bodies in the education sector so that together we can take this project to various schools and communities.

The team helps with managing the online library. We download the pdf version of books as well as scan them so converting the material into digital form isn’t a problem. A lot of work goes into helping set up the server facilities for our member schools and communities and getting them acquainted with the technology as well. There wouldn’t be a point of opening an e-library if they don’t know how to access or use it. So we also provide a basic day’s training for those who need it.

Teachers-Training

How do you think we can help this trend of e-libraries catch on in our country?

I believe it all comes down to improving the infrastructures and generating more awareness. We all know about the importance of libraries for a community, especially when it comes to our children. Having them online makes the facility all the more accessible.

As I mentioned before, all we need is a computer. Even among the 30,000 community schools in our country, 11,000 of them are said to have computers. But most don’t have good libraries because setting up one means they will require a separate room, and furniture. There is also the hassle of having to maintain the collection and preserve the books. However, with e-libraries we don’t have to worry about any of these factors. A single book can be used and enjoyed by several people. There is no fear of it being lost or torn and it is accessible at the click of a button. What’s more, we add to the collection on our website every day. The library only keeps expanding and becoming a richer source of information.

We have many schools, some even from villages, reaching out to us because they want to make the most of the computer facilities that they have. The advantages of online libraries are obvious to them. If more schools and communities around the country were aware of them too, I believe online libraries would become more popular.

This article has been retrieved from Republica .

  • Posted on 29 Jul 2016
  • In News
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Earthquake School Reconstruction Project update

June 2016 | Gorkha

Based on the MoU signed with the Department of Education in December 2015, OLE Nepal has started reconstruction activities in four primary schools in Gorkha district. During the last three months, we have made multiple visits to the construction sites and held community meetings to involve local people the reconstruction process. The construction site preparation at three of the schools has already been completed through the mobilization of local communities. During a recent visit, we also checked the material and labor cost with district rate in order to finalize the cost estimate for each school.

The required structural analysis of the various building block designs have already been completed, and the analysis and design have been submitted to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) for approval. Depending on the available land size and shape, combination of two, three and four room blocks will be constructed for a total of eight rooms in each school. 

The project is being implemented with the support from the Air Asia Foundation and donors who contributed to our online campaign last year.

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Laptop program preparations in Baitadi

15 schools selected

May 2016 | Baitadi

As reported in our last newsletter, OLE Nepal is planning to expand the laptop program in Baitadi district in the far western region of Nepal in partnership with Department of Education (DoE) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). The program will provide durable laptops and solar power back-up at the schools, install offline digital library servers full of e-books and other resources, provide three-stage training to all teachers, and provide technical and programmatic support to the schools. Solar panels and backup batteries will be funded with support from the Embassy of Finland.

OLE Nepal and Baitadi DEO had announced a call for application from interested schools through the local FM stations and newspaper advertisements. The application forms were made available at the DEO office, resource centers and Food for Education (FFE) offices. A total of 38 applications received by the DEO were carefully reviewed by OLE Nepal and DEO staff, and 24 schools were shortlisted based on the number of students, teachers and school infrastructure.

Two teams consisting of OLE Nepal staff, DEO and FFE officials conducted site survey of the 24 schools on May 21 - 29 to check the infrastructure, meet with teachers and community members, and to assess how well the schools fit the criteria set by the DEO and OLE Nepal. Since many of the schools were located in farflung communities, the teams were often required to walk for days on difficult hilly terrains. Upon completion of the survey, the teams convened at the DEO office and selected 15 schools. The schools have now been officially endorsed by the DEO and approved by the DoE.  

The following district map shows the locations of the 15 selection schools.

baitadi

Orientation program for newly selected schools

June 2016 | Baitadi

An orientation program was held in Baitadi for 15 schools that have been selected for the laptop program to be launched in the district this year. The orientation program was organized in three sessions on June 28 - 30 in two different locations. Each of the 15 schools were represented by the head teacher, school management committee chair and parent teacher association representative. OLE Nepal, DEO and FFE staff provided detailed information about the program to the participants, discussed the roles and added responsibilities of the schools and communities, and answered questions from the participants.

At the program, each school signed an agreement to work with the OLE Nepal and DEO to carry out the program, participate actively in the project activities, ensure safekeeping of the equipment, and make maximum use of the resources to improve teaching-learning in their classrooms.

Discussion on roles and responsibility at the Orientation program

Discussion on roles and responsibility at the Orientation program

Signing of Agreements

Signing of Agreements

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Sample Student Achievement Data from Bajhang’s Talkot cluster

June 2016 | Bajhang

Bajhang District is located in the remote Far Western Region of Nepal. OLE Nepal worked with development partners and local bodies such as the District Development Committee (DDC) and concerned Village Development Committees (VDC) from 2013 to 2016, to provide technology infrastructure to 43 schools in 3 phases, for the laptop program. The entire program was implemented in partnership with the Department of Education (DoE), the World Food Programme (WFP), and Embassy of Finland’s Fund for Local Cooperation (FLC). During the project period, OLE Nepal worked closely with the Bajhang’s District Education Office (DEO) to plan and execute the programs, including community participation, teacher training, laptop deployment, monitoring and support. The number of schools reached each year is mentioned in the table below.

Year No of schools
2013-14 10
2014-15 13
2015-16 20

The 43 schools in Bajhang district, that were recommended by the Bajhang District Education Office (DEO), are successfully running our laptop program. The schools were selected as the conclusion of the field visit undertaken by a team consisting of DEO officials, World Food Programme (WFP) Sub-Office personnel, and OLE Nepal staff. The teams visited various schools in the area and interacted with communities during the visits. Each school was required to fill out a detailed survey questionnaire on how the school planned to sustain the laptop program beyond the initial few years, what steps they plan to take to ensure success of the program, and how they thought the program would benefit their students. The responses provided by the schools were one of the determining factors in the school selection process. Along with the above mentioned component, schools commitment towards child-friendly learning opportunities was also equally important. It was also important for the schools to have basic infrastructure to carry forward the program with same determination and dedication as well as to have strong community support.

All 43 schools’ teachers have completed our widely-acclaimed three-stage teacher training program. During the refresher training of Bajhang Phase III, the teachers of program schools were asked to bring Annual School Achievement Data from their schools. The graph below represents student achievement data from a cluster of five schools in Talkot area of Bajhang Phase III schools.

school achievement data

The graph shows the comparison of student achievement from last academic year before the introduction of digital resources and laptops at the schools, against the current year’s data. While we are aware that many factors contribute to the improvement in student learning, we believe that the increased interest in learning and access to better resources have played a major factor at these schools. We can hope that effective integration of digital materials in the classroom practices will enhance student learning and lead to better results in future.

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US Department of Agriculture visit to laptop school in Doti

June 2016 | Doti

Program Analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Alessandra McCormack visited Mahadev Primary School in Mauwa, Doti to learn how students in this remote community are learning with the help of laptops and digital content. This was one of the schools in Doti where OLE Nepal and WFP had introduced the laptop program in 2011. Since 2014, the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program under USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Services has supported WFP and OLE Nepal in the implementation of laptop programs in the far western districts. During the visit Ms. McCormack observed classes where students were learning using interactive digital content, and discussed with teachers and parents about the impact of the program on student learning.

Alessandra McCormack, Program Analyst from USDA (third from left) with school teachers, parents, and OLE Nepal, WFP & FFE staff

Alessandra McCormack, Program Analyst from USDA (third from left) with school teachers, parents, and OLE Nepal, WFP & FFE staff

OLE Nepal’s Deepa Thapa explaining the laptop program to USDA’s Alessandra McCormack

OLE Nepal’s Deepa Thapa explaining the laptop program to USDA’s Alessandra McCormack

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Ms. McCormack was accompanied by Head of Programme Iain McDonald and Head of Education Support Mamta Gurung from WFP Country Office, and Mr. Rabindra Chand, Head of WFP Sub-office, Dipayal.

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Refresher Training for Teachers from Phase III Program Schools in Bajhang

May-June 2016 | Bajhang

A total of 95 teachers from 20 primary schools in Bajhang participated in the four-day refresher training held in district headquarter Chainpur. OLE Nepal’s trainers conducted the training in four sessions, each involving teachers from five schools. Two of the sessions were held on May 11 - 18, while the other two on June 11 - 18.

Refresher Training

Refresher Training

Refresher Training Participants

Teachers at Refresher Training in Chainpur, Bajhang

Teachers at the refresher training in Chainpur, Bajhang

Practice session for teachers at the refresher training in Chainpur, Bajhang

This was the final of the three-stage training program for teachers from the phase III schools where the program was launched in August 2015. During the training, teachers revisited the key concepts and skills learned in the initial and In-school training, shared best practices, and discussed ways to tackle the technical, pedagogical and management challenges they had encountered. The trainers emphasized on the importance of proper planning and preparation to ensure effective integration of digital lessons in classrooms.

The Bajhang District Education Officer, Mr. Madan Kumar Thapa, was present during the opening of the program on May 11. The Head of ICT Section at Department of Education (DoE), Mr. Prahlad Aryal, also travelled to Bajhang to observe the training.

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School visits by Embassy of Finland

The Embassy of Finland’s Fund for Local Cooperation (FLC) has been supporting OLE Nepal’s projects on improving access to quality learning through the use of technology in classrooms. In addition to supporting laptop programs in 15 schools in Solukhumbu, Baglung and Banke districts. FLC support has been instrumental in the development of grade 7 and 8  E-Paath learning materials. Last year, FLC support was extended to Bajhang to  provide solar energy systems and furniture in 20 primary schools where laptop program was introduced.

Recently, officials from the Embassy of Finland traveled to Baglung and Bajhang districts to study the effectiveness of OLE Nepal’s programs and activities. In the process, they observed laptop-integrated classes, interacted with teachers and children, held meetings with school management committees and parents, and met with officials at the respective District Education Offices.

May 2016 | Baglung 

Ms. Kamana Gurung, programme coordinator at the Embassy of Finland, visited three schools on May 5 - 6 in Baglung, namely Ganesh Secondary School in Narayansthan, Prithivi Lower Secondary School in Amlachaur and Rudrepipal Secondary School in Baglung Bazzar. She observed laptop-based classes at the schools, followed by interaction sessions with teachers, parents and SMC. While in Baglung, she also held discussions with the District Education Officer, Mr. Bishnu Mishra. Ms. Gurung was accompanied by OLE Nepal’s Ms. Sarina Piya.

The three schools were part of the six in Baglung, along with four in Banke and five in Solokhumbu OLE Nepal had introduced laptop-based enhanced classroom practices in 2012 with FLC support. Ms. Gurung commented that while the program has had positive outcomes at the schools, there is a need to look at the longer term sustainability so that children can continue to benefit from the quality resources. She recommended that OLE Nepal continue providing technical and pedagogical support to the schools to ensure that E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya are available to students and teachers for years to come.

IMG_20160506_104450

Students of Rudrepipal Secondary School, attending an E-Paath session in their E-Paati room.

Ms. Kamana Gurung interacting with, teachers of Rudrepipal Secondary School, Baglung Bazar

Ms. Kamana Gurung interacting with, teachers of Rudrepipal Secondary School, Baglung Bazar

Marianne Kujala-Garcia from Embassy of Finland interacting with teachers and trainer at the refresher training in Chainpur

Marianne Kujala-Garcia from Embassy of Finland interacting with teachers and trainer at the refresher training in Chainpur

class room

Classroom observation at Bhuwaneswori Primary School, Sudhada in Rayal VDC

June 2016 | Bajhang

Senior specialist of education sector and development cooperation from the Embassy of Finland, Ms. Marianne Kujala-Garcia, and Ms. Kamana Gurung, visited five schools in the remote far-western district of Bajhang on June 13 - 17, accompanied by OLE Nepal’s Rabi Karmacharya. The visitors observed classes, met with teachers, parents and community members at the following primary schools: Bhumiraj in Suwakot; Mahadev in Raikusi; Kalika in Aagra; Bhuwaneswori in Sudhada; and Amrit in Kotigaun. Most of the schools were situated far from the road, and required hours of walking up and down the hilly terrain. Ms. Kujala-Garcia and Ms. Gurung also observed the refresher training program held at Chainpur for teachers from ten of the phase III schools. While at Chainpur, they met with Acting DEO Mr. Ganesh Bhatta and shared their observations with him.

Both the visitors were pleased to see that the Embassy’s support had enabled innovative pedagogical practices in these remote communities. Having worked for years as a teacher in Finland, Ms. Kujala-Garcia spent a lot of time sharing thoughts and ideas on effective classroom practices with teachers at the schools.

FLC support has provided solar panels and batteries, furniture for laptop rooms, and volunteer service in 20 schools in Bajhang where OLE Nepal and World Food Programme (WFP) have implemented the third phase of the laptop program.

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Kavre schools update

April 2016 | Kavre

Kavre was one of the districts that was badly hit by the earthquakes in April and May, 2015. Much of the infrastructure including school buildings were destroyed by the tremors. All of the eleven schools where OLE Nepal had installed offline digital servers were in 2014 experienced some level of damage. Two of the schools — Dedithumka Lower Secondary School in Mahadevsthan and Dwarpaleshwor Secondary School in Manegaun — had all the computers and digital library server damaged when the building collapsed. OLE Nepal had been in constant contact with the schools since the earthquake, and recently visited the area to help re-establish the school network and update the digital library servers in nine of the eleven schools.

A team of four OLE Nepal staff visited the area from April 19 to 24, and in addition to updating the servers, they gave orientation to the teachers on the newly added content in the digital library. Since the schools were not able to use the digital library for over a year, it will take some effort to get them back on track. Some of the schools are still looking to replace the damaged computers with new ones. But the teachers are excited at getting the E-Pustakalaya servers up and running, and with the many newly added content, they believe that their students will benefit from the quality resources that are available readily at the schools.

The digital library project in Kavre is supported by the Embassy of Finland’s Funds for Local Cooperation.

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