AWON Establish Children Learning Center
AWON established 2 children learning centers in GairibisaunaDeupur VDC of Kavre as temporary learning centers (TLCs) for children until they return school after the devastating earthquake. Management committees were formed and a teacher was appointed in each of the learning centers. The learning centers were provided with sports materials, playthings, toys, stationaries and books. 25-30 children in average attended the learning center daily.
Before establishing, AWON team made a visit to the VDC on 21-22 May in order to assess the needs of the people, especially children, in the affected areas and subsequently establishedthe child learning centers as provisional learning and psychosocial recovery centers for children. Away from school almost for more than a month and without their textbooks, children seemed to have forgotten about study. Oblivious of their study, children were found untidy, and engaged sometimes in mischievous activities. It indicated some more serious looming problems in the areas of child health, education, and long term social and economic problems. As the children were mostly idle and the families had little resources at disposal for spending in children, children might fall victim to developing bad habits such as smoking and substance abuse, and becoming victims of trafficking, child labor and sexual abuse.
AWON team held meeting with the community about the establishment of a child learning center. The child learning center was deemed necessary in that in would help the children to engage in the productive, creative and thinking process in a safe environment while their parents can work. The engagement of children in sports and education, psychological healing and helping them to return to normal life and routine are expected to help them to escape the physical and mental health risks, dropouts, and maintain the psychosocial, intellectual and physical development and wellbeing.
When the schools reopen, the children would be encouraged to attend school. Support would be extended to the schools where the children study.
Education Support Program in Karnali
Despite heavy engagement of government and other developmental actors, there is a disconnect between the School Management Committee, teachers, and parents. Consequently, there are exceedingly poor educational practices and performances, e.g. sixth grade students failing to write their name in English when they should have learned it in the first grade. It is not only an outcome of inadequate numbers and incompetent teachers, but also unenthusiastic parents and school management committee (SMC). SMC's are formed and significantly dominated and influenced by the politics. Students don’t dream about their future beyond their parents because neither their homes nor their school create an empowered environment for learning. The reasons behind the failure of education sectors are many: extreme poverty, ignorance, poor infrastructure, pro-longed depression, suppression and domination. A report by UNICEF in 2010 expands upon this list below:
1. lack of adequate number of teachers as intended by policy
2. poor performance of the teacher (unaware of curriculum, knowledge and skills)
3. high rate of absenteeism: Seasonal and non-seasonal factors identified as influencing teacher attendance
· early departure and late returns for and after vacations
· teachers absent in school for Yarchagumba collection
· some local teachers miss classes during the planting season in May/June, the hay-making season in August/September, and the harvesting season in October/November
· some local teachers migrate to a warmer place during the cold Karnali winter from December to March
· head teachers and other teachers do not attend trainings or meetings at the District Education office
· teachers in the Karnali region often have an alternate occupation, usually in trade or business, and from time to time they miss classes to attend to their business affairs
· engagement in unions or NGOs: When teachers are involved in unions or community-based organizations and NGOs, they tend to prioritize these other activities over teaching classes
1. students are still waiting to get their textbooks
2. weak administration and management of school
3. an inactive SMC also contributes to weak school administration, resulting in low attendance rates for both students and teachers
4. lack of child-friendly classroom practices
5. no provision of teaching/learning materials
6. lack of extracurricular activities
1. Weak enforcement of attendance-related regulations by the District Education Office (DEO) was cited as a major cause of low attendance among teachers and head-teachers
2. Village Development Committees (VDC) and District Development Committees (DDC) do not oversee the operation of schools in their jurisdiction adequately
3. SMC's are not sufficiently empowered to enforce attendance rules and control student and teacher absenteeism
4. Some people said that head-teacher and teachers were more concerned with personal benefits than with professional practices
5. Some respondents felt that the Teachers’ Union is sometimes the cause of absenteeism by head-teachers and teachers
6. Most parents/guardians do not visit their schools routinely to check whether children and teachers are attending, and do not ask about the achievements of their children
7. Respondents believed that political organizations in the Karnali region do not regard educational development with high priority
Amid this devastating scenario of education, as a part of `Miteri Gau-Let’s Live Together Campaign’, Action Works Nepal (AWON) has worked and is continuing to make education a priority since its informal initiation of work. There are a series of activities in place to redress the multi-linked and overlapping issues and challenges. These include scholarships, teacher support, capacity building of parents and the school management committee, and providing bridging courses. With a sense of urgency, AWON works with the rural, poor, disabled, orphaned, and other marginalized children.
Below is an overview of the support AWON has provided for the local schools: