Safe, Well and Back in School

There’s no doubting it, 2020 has been a strange year for most! We have all had to find ways of adapting to the ‘new normal’. I don’t think that there has been any aspect of daily life that has gone untouched by the effects of covid-19. One of the great concerns in the UK has been the impact on schools and education. Our schools closed for months, they had to invest heavily in IT systems that would allow home teaching and provide for those not financially capable of accessing this online tuition. Teachers have had to quickly learn to cope with having part of their class with them whilst concurrently teaching those who were isolating at home and students have had to deal with constant disruption of not knowing whether they’d be in school from one day to the next. All of this whilst everyone does their best to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. 

So, how has Shree Gyanjyoti School in a small village in Nepal coped with all this? 

The early part of 2020 continued as normal for the school but, in Nepal, the school year begins in mid-April.  By this time, the virus had got into Nepal and the schools had to close for several months. It is also around this time that the Head (Balkrishna Gaire) and his staff would normally be visiting the families in the village to recruit the students for the school. Nepal was put under a tight lockdown so these visits were impossible. However, the wonderful dedicated and committed staff at the school continued to deliver a fantastic education to the children. The internet and devices to connect to it are very limited in the village so teachers delivered lessons directly to students and taught some classes by socially distancing outside. 

In mid-November, the government allowed schools to re-open but only on the condition that all students had their temperature taken everyday before entering the school and that all students and staff maintained a distance of 2m at all times. So, our school bought a thermometer and some extra benches and desks in order to meet these regulations and were, therefore, able to re-open. 

Upon re-opening last month, there were 193 students of which 136 were from low caste families, most requiring full or partial scholarships. We are so very proud that no caste system operates in the school and that no child is turned away whatever their background. Some classes are still having to take place outside in order to maintain the 2m distance but all of the children are continuing to receive a top quality education evidenced by the fact that the school, once again, were the top school in their municipality in the Grade 8 examinations.

So far, the virus has still not reached the village but it has reached neighbouring towns and villages. We just pray that they continue to stay safe and well. Many families have lost their income as a result of lockdown so providing food for themselves has had to take priority over paying their school fees. Obviously, this is absolutely right but it has put a higher burden on LEARN as the students will not be turned away for not being able to pay. 

We take this opportunity to thank you and all of our supporters for everything that you do for LEARN and, therefore, the children at the school. As we often quote “education is a right, not a privilege” and, thanks to you, this is the case for a small village in a remote part of Nepal. On a global scale, this seems almost insignificant but the reality is lifechanging for nearly 200 children and their families – THANK YOU!

Whilst we (the trustees of LEARN), the staff, students and families of the school, continue to be hugely grateful for the financial support given, fundraising has (for obvious reasons) been very difficult this year. There are a number of ways that you could help if you feel that you are able:

  1. Set up a standing order to give a regular donation to LEARN (contact us at enquiries@learnnepal.org.uk
  2. Make a donation on our JustGiving page, by bank transfer Account name: LEARN; account number: 65854712; sort code: 08-92-99, or directly via one of the trustees
  3. Purchasing one of our ‘gifts for life’ or other items
  4. Using us as your nominated charity with Amazon Smile
  5. Tell others about LEARN – it is an inspirational story. 

The beauty of being such a small charity is that there are no costs. Every single penny donated goes directly to the charity.

Along with our thanks, we also take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed Christmas and hopes and prayers that 2021 will see the beginnings of a worldwide recovery from the pandemic. 

Merry Christmas 2019 and Blessings for the New Year Ahead

It is with great delight that we, the trustees, receive regular updates from Devi Prasad about how things are going at the school and what they have been up to. 

This year, there are 198 students at the school and 103 of these are on full or partial scholarships.  We received news earlier this year that 52 of these students are from particularly poor families and as such, they were unable to afford the uniform needed for school.  We, therefore, decided this year that we would concentrate some effort on fundraising for uniforms and it is with great delight that we have been able to send money to the school to buy uniforms for these children.

I love this photo of them in their new uniforms – so proud! (and plenty of growth room – look at those trousers and shirt sleeves!!)
How adorable do the nursery class look in their PE kit?

Earlier this year, a relationship was forged between pupils at St Mary’s School in Hawkshaw and pupils at Shree Gyanjyoti.  They have written letters to each other and Devi Prasad wrote that he prays to God that this relationship can continue forever.

St Mary’s, Hawkshaw
Shree Gyanjyoti, Nepal

The weather is now turning cold in Nepal and they have just had their harvest so it has been a busy time for the families of the school children.  Devi Prasad also wrote about how the ladies in the village are continuing to benefit from the school with lessons in literacy, sewing and goat farming (remember last year – our appeal provided goats for the poorer families so that they could create an income from the milk, etc.).  He wrote that the ladies are very appreciative of all that is provided at the school.

LEARN really does try to provide lifechanging education for all and if we can help the ladies of the village, not only do they benefit themselves but they realise and appreciate the importance of educating the young girls in the village.

In the regional examinations, the year 8 students once again came out top of 38 schools in their rural municipality.  This is a fantastic achievement and shows the dedication of both the staff and students.  However, they also continue to strive for all round education for the pupils, not just academic achievement.  They recently took 67 pupils and staff on a day trip to Banbatika Park where they shared a picnic and the students sang and danced and they organised an interclass cricket tournament.

On 20th December, Devi Prasad wrote “I want to express Greeting and best wishes on the occasion of Christmas and New Year.  The staffs and students also pass greeting and best wishes on the occasion of Christmas and New Year – 2020.  May the God fulfill all of our wishes and desires on this great occasion of Christmas.  May the God give bless and power for the sustainable progress in further days.” And he included the following photo:

So, all that remains is for us to say a massive thank you to all who have supported and continue to support LEARN.  The school continues to do amazing things and with your help, we look forward to another year of supporting top quality education at Shree Gyanjyoti School in Nepal.

We hope that you were able to enjoy a good Christmas and that you will have a blessed New Year (and start to the new decade!)

THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!