Well, Covid-19 might be making a nuisance of itself but there have been some good things that have arisen as a result. When we asked Devi Prasad if he could email us a ‘business report’ on the school ready for our LEARN Trustee meeting that we would be holding on Zoom, he suggested to us that he just meet with us on Zoom so that he could present it to us ‘live’! This is not something we would have even begun to consider 12 months ago (in fact, back then, I don’t think many of us had even heard of Zoom!). As it happened, the time difference between here and Nepal meant that it wasn’t really feasible on this occasion. However, it did lead us to provisionally arrange a Zoom meeting with some of the school staff and students for later this year (subject to the students being allowed in school!) – something that we are very excited about! Amazing how technology allows the world to ‘shrink’!
So, it was with great delight that we received the business report email from Devi Prasad, some of which I share with you in this blog. He began his report with a brief history of the school, pointing out that although it is a registered (and, therefore, official school), the Nepalese government merely provided authority for its establishment but provide no financial or administrative support. Consequently, the school is entirely dependent upon funding via LEARN and the help from the local community to be able to run. The school has two buildings comprising 16 rooms including a computer lab, science lab and a library (amazing resources for a school of its type!) and they continue to be very grateful to those supporters who have provided these facilities.
This year, the school has 193 students, 14 teaching staff, 1 volunteer teacher and 1 non-teaching staff. Tuition fees are paid according to the financial background of the families (with about 80 of the students receiving scholarships from LEARN). All materials essential to learning, such as text books, exercise books, pencils, etc. are provided free of charge to the students so that they all have the same educational experience regardless of financial background/status.
For the last 5 years, Shree Gyanjyoti School has secured first position in the Grade 8 (their eldest students) examinations in their municipality – no mean feat and testament to the excellent teaching delivered and the commitment of staff, students and families. They are rightfully very proud of this record – it is a massive achievement.
Beyond educating the children of the village, they are also committed to providing non-formal education for parents and non-parents. Around 200 women have participated in this program and have become literate as a result. They have been able to get goats, pigs, hens, etc. so that they can generate income and they have been able to provide disabled people with tools to aid them. They also provide a sewing program (using the school sewing machines) for parents and non-parents. Around 100 women have achieved basic level training and around 40 have got advanced level training. The school and the community are very happy and grateful for these opportunities and have all expressed their thanks to the supporters of the school for making this possible.
His report then went on to tell us about the effects of Covid-19, stating that there are over 65000 infected people in Nepal and that there have been 450 deaths to date. However, there are still no infected people in their community. The schools are shut but all of the teachers have been happy to take work to each of the students’ homes and through this, they have managed to carry out the teaching and learning activities. Some things in Nepal are beginning to be allowed out of lockdown and follow strict rules but an opening date for schools returning has not yet been given. In the meantime, they will continue their door to door teaching. Staff, students and families are clearly very dedicated to ensuring the best possible education in spite of the difficulties that they face.
He mentioned many times throughout his report how grateful they are to the Almighty Father, Michael and Maureen, LEARN, churches, friends, social groups, supporters, St. Mary’s School, Bamford Chapel, the late Dorothy Drake and all involved in supporting them in any way so that they can continue to deliver this incredible education to all in their community without restriction, bias, prejudice, etc.
So, what next?
We are well aware that Covid-19 is having a major effect globally and we have all been impacted in some way. We are massively grateful to all who have been able to support LEARN in any way but particularly financially through these times. For obvious reasons, fundraising has been very difficult this year. The school has continued to do remarkable work in very difficult circumstances and has also been impacted by the fact that Covid-19 has made a number of their families out of work meaning that even those who were paying their own school fees have been unable to do so. One way that you may be able to help without it costing you anything is to support us whilst doing your Amazon shopping. When you make a purchase via Amazon, please consider logging into your account via smile.amazon.co.uk and choose the charity Learn (Lifechanging Education for All in Rural Nepal) before placing your order. Amazon then donate a small amount of your purchase total to LEARN – ‘money for nothing’ as they say! It’s only a small amount but every little helps and it makes no difference to your finances. The beauty of being a small charity is that we have no overheads so every single penny donated goes directly to our wonderful school and the community that it is so wonderfully educating. THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!