SHREE AMAR JYOTI GAUN PHARKA PRIMARY SCHOOL, Pokhara Valley, Nepal
Feedback submitted by Nicki Clive, a volunteer teacher at the school October - December 2011 (read her blog Nicki's Travels about her experience of teaching and living in Nepal):
I was working at Shree Amar Jyoti Gaun Pharka, a government school situated in the eastern part of the Pokhara Valley in Nepal, some 200km west of Kathmandu.
According to the Nepalese curriculum, lessons should be held in English, but the teachers' lack of skill and confidence in the language make this an ideal rather than a reality. English is the single most important educational tool a Nepalese child can have. Without it, they cannot take public exams and the School Leavers' Certificate.
Most of the people who live in this area are semi-subsistence farmers of different ethnic and caste groups, and they cannot afford to send their children to private schools where the lessons are held in English. The primary class children in Amar Jyoti have only one Government text book – and not even all children have one of these.
The only story books available are those that have been taken out by volunteers. There is a small library in the secondary school with books written in both English and Nepali and it is hoped in the future that the primary school children will be able to visit this library on a timetabled basis.
When the PaperTigers books first arrived there was a certain amount of apprehension from the Nepalese teachers who thought that the books were too precious to be shared with the children because they might get damaged. It was such a joy to see a child being allowed to pick up a book at the end of my stay to look at the pictures and discuss the story with friends.
The first thing I did was to look at Biblioburro with class 5, a mixed age group of children ranging from 9 - 12 years old. We looked at the pictures together but the children found it difficult to imagine what might be happening in the story. The teaching in Nepal is only done by repetition and rote learning. When I first asked the children, "What is happening in this picture?" they would just repeat, "What is happening in the picture?" over and over again.
I asked where they thought the books were being taken to and what
Luis thought of books. After initial silence, and then yes or no
I also read Biblioburro to the younger primary school children. They were really excited to see the pictures and to be able to touch the book. It led to further animated discussion about methods of transport and the different sounds these would make (lots of vrmmm vrmms and clip-clop of the animals' feet). The children learned lots of new vocabulary like lorry, bus, motorbike, train. This was particularly useful as it is a necessary part of the Nepali curriculum for the children to recognise these words.
S., aged 6: CAN WE GO TO A LIBRARY?
P., aged 6: He went on high land and on low land.
S., aged 5: I like the butterflies in the pictures. I can draw butterflies.
A., aged 5: I like his topi [hat].
B., aged 7: Luis would get there quicker on a motorbike.
Rain School: this uplifting book was the children's favorite. They loved the illustrations and returned to look at the book again and again. There was much that was familiar to them in the pictures. Many have seen tailors working outside on their sewing machines and the majority of children have a family goat. They related to the children in the book learning their alphabet and they have experienced the monsoon rains washing away buildings and roads.
We discussed the similarities and differences between Africa and Nepal and the children loved looking at a map of the world and learning about different countries.
A Child's Garden: I shared this beautiful book and left copies with the Year 5 children.
It was difficult for them to empathise with the children in the story but it led to much discussion about the importance of looking after
their own environment. They were then encouraged to tidy up the
The girls in particular enjoyed the way colour was brought into the picture. This book will doubtless leave a lasting impression on the older children and they will gain something new each time they look at it.
A Child's Garden comments:
R., aged 11: The grey pictures look sad.
M., aged 11: I like the happy pictures with the birds and butterflies.
All the pupils in the school were thrilled to have received these lovely books. Watching the little ones being allowed to turn the pages and look at the pictures unsupervised was a very special moment. It was also thrilling to see some older boys picking up Rain School and then looking for Africa on the world map.
On behalf of the children and staff at Amar Jyoti I would like to say thank you. Your donation has brought much to the school and has opened the children's eyes to life in other countries, as well as helped to show the staff how enriching books can be.