A Year in the Life of Shree Gyanjyoti

Well, what another fantastic year for LEARN’s school Shree Gyanjyoti Community School.  It has been a while since I last posted a blog but I thought that I would wait until the end of their academic year and show just what they achieve each school year.

Once again, the dedication shown by Devi Prasad, Balkrishna Gaire and their whole staff has resulted in many successes and experiences for the pupils at the school.

Some of the little ones enjoying ball games

With your help, we have been able to provide scholarships to children from Dalit and other low caste families, enabling them to receive a good education which would otherwise be denied them.  There are also many poor families from other castes. This year there are 198 students of which more than 100 are on full or partial scholarships.

Devi Prasad reports that the parents have been very happy and satisfied with their children’s learning activities this year (which stands the school in good stead for the year ahead) as the staff have just completed their door to door program finding that parents are delighted to be enrolling their children at the school for the new academic year.

Proud families look on and support their children

Early on in the academic year, Devi Prasad reported that the School Management Committee and the PTA had been reformed with Devi Prasad being nominated as Chair for the next three years (so we know that it will be in safe hands).

You can see just what a relationship Devi Prasad has with the students

In order to maintain the high standards at the school and stay in line with the national rules and regulations, the school has had to increase its fees and the teachers’ salaries slightly.  Also, the Education Act of Nepal states that teachers should get 12 days sick leave per year, which if they don’t use, they should receive pay for.  Our school hasn’t done this (as we weren’t aware of it), so this year they are making amends and have reimbursed 20% of this pay and will continue to reimburse over the coming months/years until the staff have been paid for this in full.  This is all clearly very important – our staff should be given what they deserve and are owed but it obviously puts a burden on our fund raising which we are striving hard to achieve.  The school also experienced a leaky roof this year which has now been fixed with the help of the municipality who covered ¾ of the costs of the repair, the rest being made up from a kind donor who has also covered the cost of the new books needed for the coming year.

The leaky roof repairs – thank goodness it wasn’t monsoon season!

In terms of academia, the school seems to sit a lot of exams (I’m sure that many of our UK pupils (and teachers for that matter!) would be quite perturbed by the number!).  All pupils scored well in the January exams.  Shortly after, their municipality undertook Recovery and Accelerated Learning (ReAL) Plan examinations.  All 110 eligible pupils from our school took part in them and they came top out of 37 schools.  Once again, as almost every year since the school was founded, the final year students came top in their municipality in the annual end of school year examinations. 

Sitting the exams

Whenever Devi Prasad emails to tell us the results of examinations, he never fails to thank God, Michael and Maureen and everyone who supports the school for their contribution to the school’s success.  So, on behalf of Devi Prasad; all staff, pupils and families at the school and all the trustees of LEARN – THANK YOU – without your unending support, this would not be possible.  As well as exam success, the school participated in a municipality organised primary level quiz contest and our three students gained third place in that.

Exam results day celebrations are awards

The school organise many internal sports competitions and activities but they also partake in sports tournaments organised by the municipality such as running competitions, volleyball and taekwondo.  In the latest taekwondo tournament, they gained 3 gold, 4 silver and 8 bronze medals and our three gold medallists were selected for the provincial level tournament, so we look forward to hearing how they do in that.

Great success in the municipality Taekwondo contest

The school management are also intent on ensuring that the children and their families are well cared for.  This year, they organised for Doctors from the medical college in Tansen, Palpa to deliver menstruation awareness to all of the girls in grades 5-8 and also for the girls to be taught how to make washable sanitary pads, that they were then able to keep.  Great for the environment as well as the girls.  The whole school celebrated World Environment Day, enjoying many different activities as can be seen from the photos. 

Learning to safeguard the planet’s future

The school has organised basic tailoring programmes for parents and non-parents which all helps with income generation and have also been able to distribute three goats (using funds from the local municipality allocated for this purpose) to three disabled families to aid income generation for those families – of course, they were delighted with their goats. 

The ladies enjoy their tailoring session
So happy with his family’s goat

The school also celebrated Christmas (although it is not affiliated to any particular religion) following a visit from Pastor Ramu Rayamajhi who taught them about Jesus being the Son of God and the reason He came into the world.

Pastor Ramu and the real meaning of Christmas

Shree Gyanjyoti has also been really actively involved with other schools in their region.  Early in the year, our school organised 2 teacher training days about SSP teaching methods which was attended by 35 teachers representing 13 other schools. 

A great learning and sharing day

They also organised  a meeting for school management committees, PTAs, Principals, Education Officers, etc. from 7 other schools to share good practice and how to deal with challenges. 

Devi Prasad shows the way

In February of this year, the municipality organised a two day scout refreshment camp held at our school.  It was attended by 16  schools, with 40 Scout masters and over 100 guests. It was also attended by our school’s Principal – Balkrishna and our other male teachers.  They are now going to set up a Scout group for boys and girls at our school during the coming year.

Hosting the Scout meeting

One final very exciting development this year is the involvement with our school of a UK group – Engage Nepal with Science.  Our school is rightly very proud of its science education, having a purpose built science lab, good science equipment and a very keen and able science teacher.  Engage Nepal with Science sets out to encourage, empower, inspire and build confidence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  They pair a school in the UK with a school in Nepal and provide equipment and guidance to join together in science projects.  Shree Gyanjyoti are really keen to be involved in that, alongside their already ‘partner school’ – St. Mary’s in Hawkshaw, Bury.  Hopefully, this year will see that relationship develop along with all the positive outcomes that will inevitably occur as a result.

It is so good that our school is not only providing its own students with an incredible school experience and education but also fostering links to so many others that can only be of real benefit to themselves and all involved – taking great education beyond its own walls!

The school opened in 2008.  Since then hundreds of children have benefitted from an excellent education that would, otherwise, have been denied them.  This has only been possible because of the generosity of our supporters. 

‘THANK YOU’  You have changed the lives of these underprivileged students.

If you would like to know more or make a donation, please head to our website: www.learnnepal.org.uk

And please look out for our next blog (to be published soon), detailing our fundraising exploits and how to help us in our mission to continue to provide such fantastic education to our students and those others who are also affected by our school’s inspirational leaders.

LEARN Christmas 2022 Blog

We are delighted to be able to report that 2022 has been another fantastic year for Shree Gyanjyoti school.  With the help of our LEARN supporters, we have continued to be able to provide scholarships to children from Dalit and other low caste families.  This year, the school has 189 students of which more than 100 are on full or partial scholarships.

Some of the children enjoying a fun game

The year 8 leavers once again came out top of 39 schools in their rural municipality, a fantastic achievement demonstrating again the amount of effort and dedication from staff and students alike.  The school has also, during the course of the year, participated in dance and quiz competitions and other activities in their municipality, ensured the Covid vaccinations of all eligible students and continued their relationship with the students at St. Mary’s School in Hawkshaw, Bury.

Recently, Devi Prasad Neupane (the school’s founder and President) was appointed to the district education committee, recognising both his personal abilities and the outstanding progress made by the school since its formation 15 years ago and we were delighted to hear such wonderful news.

The hugely inspirational Devi Prasad

Both Devi Prasad and Balkrishna Gaire (the school Principal) are incredibly dedicated to ensuring the fabulous academic education for all of the children at the school but they always have the full interests of the children foremost in their thinking.  Just last month, they arranged for the superintendent and other staff from the mission hospital 10 miles away from the school to come and talk with the students about mental health issues which is so important.  

Some of the participants of the mental health programme

The latest email from Devi Prasad also explained to us that many of the ex-students of the school keep in touch with him.  Three girls from Dalit families who had been on full scholarships throughout their time at Shree Gyanjyoti, have now gone on to studies in further education (two doing a 3 year course in Animal Studies (one of whom was a child from the family who received the first goats as gifts through the work of LEARN) and one doing a 4 year course in Computer Science).  Sadly, the girls had written to Devi Prasad and explained that they are doing well and enjoying their courses but were unable to pay their course and accommodation fees as their families are unemployed and illiterate and the economic crisis was proving too much.  All money given to LEARN goes directly to the school itself so it is outside of LEARN’s remit to support them but through Maureen and Michael’s LEARN contacts, it looks probable that a separate fund is being set up to support these three girls.  How amazing that three Dalit Nepali girls (who wouldn’t normally have received any formal education) have been able to attend Shree Gyanjyoti School, get a great start to their education and then, through continued support given them by Devi Prasad are now able to continue their education to such a high level. And that is what makes LEARN so special – it enables the education of so many children who otherwise would receive none.  LEARN, through supporters like you, continues to transform lives!

The young girl and her mother at home where they received the first goat
Outside her college where she studies computer science
At college studying animal science but hoping to go on to be a fully qualified vet

Once again, this year has been a very difficult year for Charities.  Michael and Maureen have recently been able to travel and give some talks and sales, but opportunities continue to be limited.  We remain massively grateful to all who support the work of LEARN.  Your generosity continues to ensure that ALL children in this little village in Nepal have access to a fantastic education and, therefore, a better future.  Never underestimate the difference that your support makes.  THANK YOU on behalf of students, their families, staff, LEARN and all those in the village that we have been able to help.

It always feels uncomfortable thanking people for their generous support and then going on to ask for more.  However, we believe so much in all that LEARN does that we need to continue to meet the needs of the school.  We are genuinely hugely grateful for all that our supporters do.  However, if you feel able to offer further support: 

  1. The ‘Gifts for Life’ Certificates make wonderful Christmas presents and were well received by many last year.
  2. Donations can be given at any time.
  3. Consider setting up a standing order (a commitment of just £5 per month would be enough to pay the scholarship of one child)
  4. Tell other people about LEARN
  5. Invite Michael and Maureen to do a talk and/or sale.

For information on how to do any of the above, visit our website: www.learnnepal.org.uk or email us at enquiries@learnnepal.org.uk

Good News in a Troubled World

When the world seems to be so troubled and the news brings constant sadness and despair for the terrible things going on in so many places, it was lovely to receive the latest email from Devi Prasad that was filled with good news.

He reported that Covid infection is currently not present in their region so everything is operating normally and people are able to go about their daily routines and work.  This is great news for the school as it is currently able to teach in the school, go about its normal activity as well as lots of extra-curricular activities and generally care for its staff and students in the best possible way without restrictions.  The students are, of course, delighted to be back in regular ‘in school teaching’. He was also able to report that the 39 students eligible for Covid vaccines had now had their second dose. 

The general education in the school continues to be delivered to an excellent standard by our highly motivated and dedicated staff but on top of this, their municipality had organised dance and quiz competitions in late February.  Our school entered this and were pleased to come second and third which they were really pleased with.  Its so good to see the school not only enjoying great academic success but also really encouraging the students to be involved in so many other non-academic activities.  It really works at developing the whole person, which is so important and so pleasing for us as trustees to see.

Devi Prasad was also able to tell us that the school had been given some money by their rural municipality for painting the building.  They have used the money to paint 3 classrooms, 16 front and side windows and 14 doors!  It is great that they received the money as it shows recognition by the municipality and also good that they keep the premises in such good order as that is often not a priority in Nepal! 

It is almost the end of the academic year in Nepal and once again, we are delighted with the progress and achievements that our staff and students are so committed to working towards.  However, none of this would be possible if it were not for our fantastic supporters.  


Christmas Blog

This time last year, the whole world was still in the terrifying grip of the Covid-19 pandemic BUT the first non-trialvaccine had just been given and hope was on the horizon. The vaccines have certainly transformed life, people have been able to return to socialising, work and school, etc. So, 2021 has seemed more ‘normal’ than 2020! (although, as we know only too well, omicron is threatening to unsettle all this a bit). So, what of our friends in rural Nepal?

They have also seen big changes this year. They have had numerous lockdowns to deal with but they too have seen a return to some level of normality. During lockdowns, the teachers taught the older children online (90% of them managed access to a computer or mobile phone) but taught the younger children outside their own homes. Some lessons took place socially distanced outside, whilst others went ahead in the classrooms. Whatever methods they used, they worked – once again, Shree Gyanjyoti topped the schools in their municipality in the exams. Testament tothe dedication of staff, students and their families.

Lessons outside

It has been a struggle for many in the village. Jobs were lost and other sources of income were drying up. We made an appeal to our supporters for separate donations (every penny donated to LEARN goes directly to the school itself) so that we could help Devi Prasad to feed people in the village who would, otherwise, have gone hungry – people in the village not directly connected with the school but in dire need. The school and the education provided is an incredible resource for the village but the care goes way beyond its walls and we thank you.

Devi Prasad’s latest update, in terms of vaccines, informed us that their Government were vaccinating all over 40 years plus year 12 students. At that time, none of our students had been vaccinated but he was hoping that it wouldn’t be too long before they were. We did ask whether it would be possible for us to buy some vaccines but the Nepali government would not allow purchase of vaccines.

They have managed to install two easy use contactless taps

Letters continue to be exchanged between St. Mary’s in Hawkshaw and our school in Nepal. This has been so wonderful for both schools. The children in both countries look forward to sending and receiving letters. It is such a great link between children in very different circumstances!

How happy and proud does this young man look?

Once again, this year has been a very difficult year for Charities. Michael and Maureen have recently been able to travel and give some talks and sales, but opportunities continue to be very limited. We remain massively grateful to all who support the work of LEARN. Your generosity continues to ensure that ALL children in this little village in Nepal haveaccess to a fantastic education and, therefore, a better future. Never underestimate the difference that your support makes. THANK YOU on behalf of students, their families, staff, LEARN and all those in the village that we have been ableto help.

It always feels uncomfortable thanking people for their generous support and then going on to ask for more. However,we believe so much in all that LEARN does that we need to continue to meet the needs of the school. We are genuinely hugely grateful for all that our supporters do.

However, if you feel able to offer further support:

1. The ‘Gifts for Life’ Certificates make wonderful Christmas presents and were well received by many last year.

2. Donations can be given at any time.

3. Consider setting up a standing order

4. Tell other people about us

5. Invite Michael and Maureen to do a talk and/or sale.

For information on how to do any of the above, visit our website: www.learnnepal.org.uk or email us atenquiries@learnnepal.org.uk


What A Time To Live In Bolton!

Bolton currently has the highest new Covid-19 infection rate in the whole country and there is much speculation that we Boltonians may all be put under local restrictions yet again whilst most of the rest of the country isrevelling in being able to regain most of its freedom.  (The story of Bolton’s life for much of the last 14 months!) 

Last weekend though, my children were able to receive their first Covid-19 vaccine because of where we live.  This means that every member of my family (and much of my extended family) has now received at least one vaccination – what a blessing and what a privilege.  After their vaccinations, we had a little treat visit to a local ice-cream parlour, before coming home to get food out of the freezer to eat after we got home from work/school the following day. 

We may be fed up of the restrictions and missing our family and friends but we have never been in the situation of wondering how we could possibly get enough food and other supplies to survive or whether we would be able to afford life-saving treatment if we could actually find a hospital with enough resources/space left to treat us. The following makes me really appreciate just how lucky I am to live and work where I do – yes, even Bolton ?!! 

On Monday, we received an email from Devi Prasad.  Their village is in lockdown with markets (no popping to the fridge or freezer for more food for our Nepalese families), banks, schools, etc. shut.  Covid-19 cases are rising rapidly and they are beginning to experience some deaths.  Most of the community have lost their jobs and, unlike during the first Nepal lockdown, there is no support or supplies from the government nor NGOs, etc.  Only 7% of the population of Nepal has received a first vaccination and the programme has now been halted due to supplies of the vaccine drying up. 

Devi Prasad estimates that there are 100 families in the village who are in dire need of help and estimates the cost to be about NPR 3000 (£18) per month per family.  He has a plan to be able to distribute food to the families.  However, they will need financial help to be able to do this (and he is also delighted to report that our school community have made 2500 facemasks for the protection of others in the area). 

We are asking, therefore, that if you feel you want to send a donation, no matter how big or small (every penny helps), please send it to Maureen, the Chair of LEARN, as the charity was registered solely to support the school and this appeal falls outside that object.   Donations can be sent:

Directly into Maureen’s EC account:

Maureen Hawksworth 

Sort code: 60-60-06

Account number: 46256539


or by post to:

Maureen Hawksworth, 9 Brockenhurst Drive, Bolton, BL2 4HP.


Nepal Visit Update 1!

A couple of our trustees are currently visiting Nepal along with a couple of our other supporters. We were delighted to hear that they had arrived safely in Kathmandu and that the weather is pleasant.  On Tuesday, they visited the UNCLE orphanages (in their role as UNCLE trustees) and it looks like they were all enjoying the party!

They have been doing lots of shopping to buy items to sell when they present their talks about the school and have now safely (although it was a very bumpy 8 hour bus ride!) transferred from Kathmandu to Pokhara where even more shopping awaits! 

Tomorrow they travel to Tansen from where they will visit the school. We, at home, are really looking forward to their update on the school – it’s the first visit there since completion of the science room. It’s also wonderful to see first hand how the school, staff and students are progressing thanks to all of LEARN’s fantastic supporters. 

Thanks for all the support you give and look out for the next blog sometime after the school visit! 

2018 – A Big Year For LEARN!

Wow, what a year! Shree Gyanjyoti school has already been in existence for some time with much financial support being raised by Michael and Maureen.  This year, the school celebrated its 10thanniversary (in its current building) and LEARN was formed, becoming a registered charity in May, thus ensuring a more secure future for the fundraising for the school.  We have developed a website and various other social media sites (also gaining some media coverage in The Methodist Recorder!) alongside the more traditional methods of letters and going out giving talks/sales at many places across the UK.

We are very grateful to Bamford Chapel in Rochdale who have raised the money required to add a brand new science room to the school.  The building work is now complete and will be a really useful addition to the school.

During 2018, the school has had 199 pupils, 80 of whom are on scholarships and we have been able to provide books and other essential school equipment.  Again, we have our supporters to thank for this.

In addition to LEARN’s activities, we have (not using LEARN money but connected with the school) been able to send £800 to Devi Prasad Neupane towards the building of a new home following the devastation of his home in the earthquake a few years ago and also been able to buy 22 goats (with money still coming in!) for some of the poorest families who attend the school so that they are able to generate their own income.

In March 2019, a small group of us will be visiting Nepal and will be stopping off at the school. We look forward to spending some time there, meeting with the students and staff and to having the opportunity to discuss with them, as well as seeing for ourselves, the next priorities for spending the money raised by LEARN.

We take this opportunity as one year finishes and another begins, to thank you all, whether you support us financially, by following us on social media, by attending or organising one of our talks or sales or just chatting to us and encouraging the work that we do. Your support has and is making a massive difference to these young people – never underestimate the opportunities that you are giving them!  Thank you on their behalf!  We firmly believe that education is one of the best ways to tackle poverty and with thanks to you, we are successfully achieving this for a small but important group of people.  THANK YOU!

Trips and Goats

We have received a lovely letter from Devi Prasad Neupane telling us about an educational school trip that students and staff from our school have been on.  During November, they visited Pokhara-Gorkha-Chitwan National Park-GC Temple-Lumbini.  They have sent us some photographs as included in this blog.  It’s fantastic to see a village school being able to provide this kind of experience for its students – something that we just take for granted in this country.

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Also, following a talk given by Michael and Maureen, someone offered to buy a goat to enable one of our more needy school families to start goat farming.  The school have met with the parents and a number of families could really benefit in this way.  Consequently, the ‘goat fund’ is increasing and people are continuing to donate to this fund.  Great news for the families that will benefit.  Each goat costs around £35 and ideally, it would be nice to provide a pair of goats for each of 20 families. 

Thank you as always to our supporters – it is your continued and valued support that makes all of this possible.