Teach for Nepal was the right platform because it sends fellows to villages that need change the most. But building rapport with students was a challenge. So, in her first class, Rai’s homework assignments was for the children to write letters to her. Few did in the beginning, but gradually even the more introverted children shared their stories.
“The letters students wrote to me were so emotional and full of their daily struggle,” Rai says, “they were very candid about family life and hardships at home. The letters helped me understand and connect with them.”
Kalakhola School is situated on the outskirts of Tulsipur, and is half-town, half-village. Better-off families send their boys to a nearby private school, while girls and children of poorer families attend the government school.
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As her fellowship draws to a close, Rai is handing over initiatives like a Learning Centre she set up for after-school activities to the students to run. She wants to build another centre using discarded plastic bottles that are strewn all over Dang.
The Learning Centre is an additional platform to improve the English language skills of students through screening English language films on Fridays after school. It is also where they learn skills and craft that will help them after graduation.
Rai’s co-fellow Samit Shakya is a science teacher, and started a STEM Club to give students an opportunity for practical learning. There are 19 other fellows in nine schools in Dang.
Teach for Nepal’s work in Dang is a collaborative initiative with the municipal government led by the mayor which pays for the fellows, and supports their initiatives.
Bhaskar Gautam of Tulsipur Municipality says bringing teachers from other parts of Nepal would enhance the exposure for students.
He adds: “Teach for Nepal fellows have become role models for other teachers to be prompt and regular at school, complete their classes, and be more impassioned and enthusiastic about teaching.”