On Saturday 2ndMarch 2019, Michael, Maureen and two others – Rosemary and Cath, flew out to Nepal to visit the school. Whilst in Nepal, they thoroughly enjoyed doing LOTS of shopping for Nepali goods to sell at their LEARN talks and sales back in Britain. (Please do contact us to book a sale – there are lots of lovely items!)
They spent a full day at the school, accompanied by Devi Prasad Neupane and the Headmaster – Balkrishna Gaire. Upon arrival at the school, our visitors were greeted by a small number of pupils – they gave a warm welcome and a small posy of marigolds.
Michael officially opened the new science room (really grateful thanks to Bamford Chapel in Rochdale for raising the funds for this valuable extension to the school) – a fantastic resource, staffed by an incredibly enthusiastic science teacher.
Our visitors were given a tour of the school during which they were taken round the classrooms, giving them the opportunity to see the children and the teachers at work. They were really impressed by the quality of the education that the children were receiving and also by the atmosphere of learning, support and love that was clearly evident to all. In fact, whilst reflecting on the visit upon her return home, Rosemary wrote “The children were given firm instructions, not barked orders. They seemed happy children. What a constructive environment for young minds to learn to think for themselves! What role models they have in their teachers, leaders and community elders.”
Following the tour, they met with Devi Prasad, Balkrishna and the school committee to discuss how things were going and the vision for the future. Again, everyone was delighted at the progress being made and the commitment from all present towards a really successful future for the school and pupils. Michael and Maureen were also handed a shopping list of items for the school for funding approval by LEARN trustees. This was useful but also humbling at the same time. It listed items that are common place in British schools but considered almost luxury items in Nepal. We were amazed to see that they had a computer suite with 10 very old computers and six of them no longer worked. They wanted to know if they could replace the six that no longer worked. When asked if they wanted to replace the whole suite with updated technology, they said that they didn’t– as long as they had enough working computers to use, that would suffice. It wasn’t a decision based on lack of ambition or lack of desire for better, more of a ‘needs must’ decision – there were other more important uses for the money.
The LEARN trustees also felt that it was important to negotiate pay and working conditions with the staff. The staff are so talented and committed to the school but so far, had been underpaid compared to those in some government schools. We wanted to be both fair to the staff but also realistic in what we could offer. Negotiations went well and all involved were happy with the outcome.
Devi Prasad then provided our visitors with lunch outside his old house which was lovely and a chance to just take a break, relax and chat about his family and his new house which is well underway and looking good – it will be lovely for his whole family to finally be able to live in a home instead of the ‘shack’ that they’ve lived in since the earthquake.
Post lunch, back at the school, our visitors were treated to an afternoon of entertainment provided by the pupils of the school. There was singing, dancing and taekwondo performed by children of all ages. They were very proud to be able to perform for our visitors and some members of their families. What an absolute treat it was to be able to share this with them.
Michael, Maureen, Rosemary and Cath had a fabulous visit to the school, enjoying the opportunity to meet with children, parents, grandparents and staff and to see for themselves just what a fantastic job Shree Gyanjyoti School is doing. The staff and school committee were keen for all of LEARN’s supporters to know just how much they value the work of the charity in supporting the school – a sentiment which LEARN’s trustees would like to echo – without your support, the charity could not help the school like it does and the children and families in this village in Nepal would not be receiving this education that should be a right, not a privilege.
To sum up, during Cath’s reflections of the visit upon her return home, she wrote “All in all, a lovely school, with a strong ethos of personal development and of caring for each other, which will help the children to grow into confident, responsible adults. I repeat, I was very, very impressed by this amazing school.”