OLE Nepal July-Aug 2012 Newsletter - Issue 16

We hope you enjoy this edition of OLE Nepal Newsletter, a bi-monthly email newsletter from Open Learning Exchange (OLE) Nepal. It provides current news and information about the organisation and its activities and will keep you up to date with OLE Nepal's work to provide high quality education for children in Nepal.

Stay connected with OLE Nepal at www.olenepal.org
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Content Dissemination Workshop

OLE Nepal and the Department of Education (DoE) jointly held a dissemination and interaction program about digital content and ICT-based education with the Secretary of the Ministry of Education (MoE), Mr. Kishore Thapa as the chief guest. The program held on July 19, 2012 was attended by nearly 50 officials from the ministry and its agencies including the DoE, the Curriculum Development Center (CDC), the National Center for Educational Development (NCED), Food for Education (FFE) Program, as well as from development partners including WFP, Finnish Embassy, USAID, UNICEF, JICA and ADB. In his welcome address, Director General of DoE Mr. Mahashram Sharma shared the power of ICT to improve quality of learning and to bridge the gap between schools, and expressed his commitment to take the ICT-integrated program to places both rural and urban, remote and accessible, and to schools both private and public. He also addressed the high prospect of the use of ICT in education through the Master Plan being prepared by the ministry.


MoE Secretary Mr. Kishore Thapa with other distinguished guests

Prior to the presentation of the digital activities, OLE Nepal's Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya shed light on how the digital activities were designed to work together with the overall program to improve education through the integration of technology in public schools. The presentation of the digital activities by OLE Nepal's Subir Pradhanang and Sunil Pokhrel was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, with many influential officials commenting on its high quality and usefulness in furthering the use of ICT in our education system.

WFP Nepal's Country Representative Ms. Nicole Menage spoke about the partnership between WFP, OLE Nepal and DoE to strengthen both the body and the mind of a child. She also brought to notice the work done by WFP in taking the ICT-integrated education program to five new schools in Dadeldhura and Doti last year, training 40 primary teachers in ICT-based education while feeding 200,000 children through the 'School Meal Program.'


Participants in the content dissemination workshop

Mr. Mohan Das Manandhar, Chairperson of OLE Nepal's Board of Directors, outlined the history of OLE Nepal, highlighting its achievements and explaining the pertinence of technology in development. He gave a brief description of the pilot project which benefited 10,000 students and trained over 300 teachers. Chief guest Mr. Kishore Thapa, commented that with interactive educational activities, children can be given access to valuable learning tools even in the absence of teachers. He praised OLE Nepal for developing wonderful materials and hoped to see more of these activities in future.

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Approval of E-Paath Learning Activities by CDC

The set of digital learning activities for science and mathematics subjects that were designed and developed by OLE Nepal have been officially approved by Nepal Government's Ministry of Education's Curriculum Development Center (CDC). The 274 learning modules for grades two to six -- 110 for science and 164 for math -- were sent to the CDC for approval through Department of Education (DoE), OLE Nepal's partner in implementing ICT-integrated education initiatives in Nepal. Respective subject committees at the CDC reviewed the activities to ensure that they fulfilled the learning objectives outlined in the national curriculum before approving them for use in the classrooms. These E-Paath learning activities were developed with the support of UN World Food Program and the Embassy of Denmark.

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Laptops at Shanti Priya Primary School

By Anne Mette Nordfalk Chairperson,
Skoleliv i Nepal

It is a hot summer afternoon in Rupandehi district south-western Nepal. Holidays are still on but I have come all the way from Denmark to visit the school that my organization has cooperated with for more than three years, so School Management Committee (SMC) members and some children are present. The SMC members and I are meeting about the various activities we do together to improve this poor village school, the kids have come to demonstrate their computer skills.

In the end of April 2012 the school got 20 small white-green laptops through OLE Nepal. The computers were donated by a Danish music festival and the training for the teachers was sponsored by a Danish computer-learning institute. Now it is time to see what they have learned.

The first obstacle to the new computer based teaching was not technical but political. Just a few weeks after the laptops had been introduced a major series of bandhs (strikes) started due to the endless political power struggles over the new constitution. So the school was closed most of May then reopened for one month teaching in June only to close for summer holidays in July. So the use of computers must be far away for most of the kids and teachers. The eight kids that are present in the newly built computer-room this afternoon are given a computer each and teacher Menuka Neupane asks them to turn it on. All kids are able to do this easily. Then Menuka Miss tells them to find a particular English lesson. For Bikram Musahar and his best friend Krishna Kumal this is easy, for their classmates in 5th grade Sunita Musahar and Pargati Musahar it is a bit difficult. Pargati ends up in a math lesson, but Bikram turns around to help her with impressively fast moves. After just a month of learning he treats a computer like a Danish boy at his age.

While kids are working SMC members are patiently waiting in the other end of the room. "Aren't you going to try?" I ask. They are a little hesitant but they agree to try and a couple of minutes later they are completely engaged in the world inside the little white-green laptops. Our meeting becomes very late – but who cares? I get some fantastic photos and everyone has a good time.


ICT-integrated instructions by Ms. Menuka Neupane

"It's easy!" Maya Neupane, teacher in the school said just after the one week training they got in April with a big smile and all her 4 colleagues agreed. This short training has enabled them to teach the students in various subjects using the computers and all along it has been easy. This is a great relief for me, because I know the school's five female teachers to be very dedicated but not very well educated and definitely not computer literate. In my organization Lunch for Nepal we chose to work with OLE Nepal because their program is very transparent, because the curriculum follow the official Nepalese curriculum so that "our" students have a better chance passing the yearly exams and because the price of laptops made us able to get 20 OLPC laptops instead of 5 ordinary laptops. We also liked the idea of a OLE Nepal's offline digital library. All along OLE Nepal has been a top-professional counterpart and to see how happy kids and teachers are to use the laptops in class is truly wonderful.

Lunch for Nepal (Skoleliv i Nepal) works to improve the learning conditions in poor village schools through free lunch for students, solar panels, teacher training and computers. To learn more visit: www.lunch-for-nepal.org:

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Local Voice: Changes brought about by use of laptops

By Binod Singh, Head Teacher, Garma Secondary School, Solukhumbu
(Translated from original Nepali write-up)

The ICT-based education project was introduced in our school by OLE Nepal with assistance from the District Education Office. The school was provided with OLPC laptops and digital educational materials for grades 2 to 6. This program has given students the opportunity to use computers for learning purposes. The laptop is a medium through which children can familiarise themselves with the use of computers and become efficient learners by using E-Paath. Moreover, the availability of the digital library, E-Pustakalaya, has made teachers like us more enthusiastic towards our profession.


Head Teacher, Garma Secondary School, Solukhumbu

The implementation of the ICT-integrated education at our school commenced with a seven-day teacher-training program where six teachers were given training on the use of laptops and various digital contents available. Even though the training period was short especially for people who have never used computers before, the enthusiasm and the interest shown by the participants was a big factor in overcoming obstacles. The teachers were trained to use the digital learning resources so that students can understand various concepts better. Furthermore, it can be observed that the implementation of this program has made learning an entertaining experience for children. In E-Paath, students can also evaluate their own learning level.

The fact that E-Paath is not meant to replace textbooks but rather designed to be used as additional learning resource was made clear to the teachers. All of the teachers are convinced that this particular change will have a positive impact in the educational system of our school.

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ICT-based Learning for Children with Special Needs

Among the notable things in Solukhumbu, Garma Secondary School has introduced laptop-based teaching-learning approach to 16 hearing and speech impaired students in the school. Though the students were only recently exposed to learning through E-Paath, most of them could easily navigate through the activities without much assistance. Looking at the animation of the speaker-icon vibrating in the activities, they were indicating to each other that someone was speaking, but that they could not hear the sound. This observation gave us a new hope that ICT-based tools could be adapted towards accelerated learning for children with special needs.Go to Top

Partnerships


The Nepal Library Foundation (NLF) has extended its support to OLE Nepal's digital library project, E-Pustakalaya, for the fourth successive year. The funds for e-pustakalaya establishment and expansion for the first three years were provided by Nepal Library Foundations’ various donors. The funds for continuation of the project in 2012 was made available exclusively by the Hartley &Marks Publishers Inc. in Canada. The partnership that began in 2009 with NLF providing with a start up fund to set up the basics of the e-library and then additional funds in 2009 to 2011 to ensure the library remained robust and a publicly available website and resource center. This fund has been instrumental in helping OLE Nepal expand the content in E-Pustakalaya to its current state. E-Pustakalaya is now a digital repository that can be accessed from the Internet or through an internal network of local servers installed at OLE Nepal's remote program schools or community centers that are without Internet access. NLF is a Canadian registered charity established and run by a committed group of volunteers based in Vancouver, British Columbia. For more information, visit www.nepallibrary.org


Good Neighbors International OLE Nepal entered into an agreement with Asal Chhimeki Nepal (ACN), a local NGO under Good Neighbors International (GNI) of South Korea. As per the agreement, OLE Nepal will partner with ACN to implement laptop-based teaching-learning program in three schools in the far western district, Doti. The initial week-long teacher training for 20 teachers from the three schools and seven ACN local staffs was held in the district headquarter, Silgadhi, from August 26, 2012. After the training, 75 E-Paati laptops along with school servers and other equipment will be deployed in two schools in Ladagada VDC - Masteshwor Primary and Sunadevi Higher Secondary - and one in Pokhari VDC - Mastamandu Higher Secondary School. The laptops for the project were made available by the UN World Food Program.


World Food Programme The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and OLE Nepal signed an agreement on July 31, 2012 to expand the OLPC project in Bajhang district in far western region of the country. The new agreement extends the successful partnership between the two organizations in implementing OLPC project in Dadeldhura and Doti in the same region since 2009. As part of the agreement, OLE Nepal will implement the OLPC shared-model program in ten schools of Bajhang where WFP has been running the School Meals Program that ensures that children get at least one nutritious meal a day. OLE Nepal will also continue to support existing eight schools in Dadeldhura and Doti districts. The expansion of the project in ten schools in Bajhang is the first step in OLE Nepal's broader aim to saturate the entire district so that students in every primary school in the district have access to technology-enhanced quality learning tools.

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Bajhang Project


Beginning with the next academic year in April 2013, OLE Nepal is launching a project to saturate all primary schools in Bajhang district with its OLPC shared-model program. The main reason behind concentrating resources in one district as opposed to scattering in different districts is to develop an in-depth knowledge of a district-wide implementation, including the technical and administrative requirements as well as developing a robust monitoring and support structure. Such knowledge and insight will be instrumental in expanding the benefits of ICT-based education on a nationwide scale. The project will draw from the experience that OLE Nepal and its implementing partners including the Department of Education have gathered through four years of implementing laptop-based education initiatives, and will also utilize the educational content, training package, and technical knowledge that have been developed during this period. The project will develop an implementation model replete with financial and resource requirements that can be used to replicate ICT-based education in other districts. While OLE Nepal will form partnerships with government, development partners and national and international organizations to implement the project, funds required for the laptops will be raised from individuals and corporations around the world. The laptops will be a key component of our effort to use technology to enhance teaching and learning in public schools and provide wider access to quality teaching materials in this remote district. To learn more about the fundraising campaign and to make contributions, please visit the following site: http://olenepal.org/donate-bajhang

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Trainings

In-school Training

As a follow-up to the initial teacher training at the beginning of this academic year, OLE Nepal's trainers conducted in-school training in five program schools in Solukhumbu district and four program schools in Banke district in July and August. The in-school training was aimed at assisting teachers to resolve any issues faced after they started integrating E-Paath in their teaching. Teachers who were trained prior to the implementation of the program conducted classes while remaining teachers and trainers observed and later provided feedback.

After the conclusion of the in-school training, an interaction meeting with head teachers of the five program schools was held at the Solukhumbu District Education Office. The meeting concluded that i) schools should regularly update the community/SMC about this program, ii) schools need to start allocating funds for maintenance, iii) schools need to take care of the laptops and servers for their longevity and iv) Schools and the DEO need to discuss issues and lessons during their regular meetings.

Refresher Training

Teachers from three schools in Kerung VDC in Solukhumbu received further training from OLE trainers on integrating E-Paath in classroom teaching process. The training held in Salleri on July 4 - 5 was attended by twelve teachers from Setigaya Primary School, Singhakali Lower Secondary School and Chyagesthan Higher Secondary School. The Chimding Foundation had provided fifteen laptops to the schools and OLE Nepal had provided basic technical training in Kerung earlier in May.

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Technical Support Visit


Providing technical support in Dadeldhura

OLE Nepal's technical team had a very busy July and August visiting all the program schools in Dadeldhura, Doti, Mustang, Makwanpur, Kapilvastu, Kavre and Lalitpur to provide technical support as well as to update laptops and school servers with the latest digital educational content. Providing support in 31 schools in the wet monsoon season was certainly not an easy feat. In addition to updating the E-Paati laptops and E-Pustakalaya, the team held interactions with school teachers to learn about issues or problems they were facing as well as about positive changes that had come about in their schools. The team found that most schools had problems with broken chargers and few broken laptops, and in most of the schools, servers had issues ranging from minor ones that could be solved by updating them, to dysfunctional server ports due to lightning strikes. While it was apparent that some schools were making excellent use of the laptops, sending them home with students, and keeping them organized and with care, other schools were lagging in making maximum use of the laptops. The team brought few of the equipment back with them for repair. Go to Top

Evaluation Surveys

OLE Nepal has undertaken three separate revaluation studies to learn about the impact on various aspects of learning due to the introduction of laptops and digital learning materials at schools.

Qualitative Evaluation:

This study was initiated to find out the effectiveness of laptop-based education program and to learn lessons that can be used to improve future implementations. The evaluation is planned to be carried out in sixteen program schools in Doti, Dadeldhura, Makwanpur and Kapilvastu districts. The evaluation will study the improvements in the teaching-learning process in the form of teaching practices amongst teachers and enthusiasm in learning amongst students. The study will also look into challenges and issues and how schools have worked to overcome them, as well as identify best practices. Parents and community members will also be surveyed to gather public perception of the project and its benefits. Out of the sixteen schools, the program has been running in eleven schools since 2009, while the remaining five have had it since 2011. The survey was conducted in four program schools Dadeldhura in August. Beneficiaries of the program - students, teachers, principals and parents - were interviewed in groups and individually to obtain their reaction to the program. Initial findings indicate that students had been very engrossed in E-Paath activities and E-Pustakalaya. Students were able to talk about the books they had downloaded and read from the E-Pustakalaya and discussed concepts they had learnt through E-Paath activities. Most of the schools recommended OLE Nepal to help develop local technical skills who can do simple technical repairs. Surveys in the remaining twelve schools will be carried out in September, and report will be prepared later this year after detailed analysis of the findings.

Science Content Evaluation:

This study was designed to learn the effectiveness of the newly developed science activities on raising awareness about agriculture, food and nutrition as well as gender issues related to the above areas. The initial survey was conducted in all eight program schools in Doti and Dadeldhura before the students were exposed to these learning activities. The inital survey tested a randomly selected sample of ten students each from grades two to five. Another survey will be conducted after the completion of the current academic year in 2013 to assess the impact of the activities.

Impact on Learning:

This evaluation will study the direct impact in learning English and mathematics in fifteen schools in Solukhumbu, Banke and Baglung where OLE Nepal recently launched the laptop-based education program through pre- and post-intervention tests conducted among students from grades two to six. The pre-project survey was carried out in Banke and Solukhumbu in June, while the survey in Baglung will be conducted at the program launch in September. OLE Nepal will conduct a post-project survey in 2013 to learn the impact the project has had on the student learning.

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E-Pustakalaya News

We have kept in touch with Nepali authors who have already provided some of their books to the E-Pustakalaya, and we continue our attempt to find new authors and approach them to make their works available on the E-Pustakalaya. We have identified and entered into agreements with few poets and short story writers to record audio books of their respective works. As usual, we are scanning and uploading a wide variety of books that are not already available in digital format. Amongst these, 23 books from the collection of Basudev Sharma Luitel in humor and satire genres of Nepali Literature are being digitized. We were also involved in creating photo essays and coloring pages aimed at children. A number of child-centric audio books including Vinaya Kasajoo's works that were recorded in collaboration with CWIN have been uploaded and are receiving a high number of daily views. Last month we met Chatyang Master, one of the most famous satirists of Nepali literature, and got permission to upload four volumes of his most popular literary work- Chatyang Geeta. We also visited Geriatrics Center Nepal's office and received their publications including literature related to old age people.

Titles that have caught our online users attention during the whole of August*

Title Author File Downloads
Nepali Brihat Sabdakosh (Nepali) Nepal Academy 451
Hitler Ra Yahudi (Novel) Bisheshwar Prasad Koirala 446
Muna Madan Laxmi Prasad Devkota 185
Eitishree (Humor-Satire) Bhairav Aryal 182
*Does not include the downloads from the offline servers in our program schools

E-Pustakalaya in Chitwan

OLE Nepal's team installed E-Pustakalaya at Nepal-Korea Wisdom School in Gadyauli-Piple in Chitwan district on August 27-29. The team also installed the local network so that computers available in the school could access the digital library, and gave an orientation to school staff on how to use the digital library, its various sections, and its benefits to the students, teachers and the community. The installation was followed by an opening ceremony of E-Pustakalaya where the team gave a demonstration to the guests.Go to Top

Office News

Farewell


With the completion of the development of OLE Nepal's interactive digital educational content, E-Paath, for grades two to six, our team of curriculum experts and reviewer have completed their tenure with OLE Nepal. Ms. Kamana Regmi, Ms. Usha Joshi and Ms. Achala Pokhrel all played instrumental roles in the conceptualization, design and review of the groundbreaking learning materials that were based on Nepal's national curriculum. The design of these activities covering English, Nepali, mathematics and science subjects required careful study of the curriculum and thorough knowledge of the way children learn as well as sound knowledge of technology and mulitmedia. With an impressive background in teaching and education, all three experts made significant contributions to the development of the learning materials. They were also involved in the design and delivery of various teacher training programs of OLE Nepal. We wish them all well as they continue to build on the work started in OLE Nepal with the newly launched center for teachers and educators.

 


We also bade farewell to our intern Aman Maharjan who recently joined Kathmandu University for further studies. Aman was known as the super-intern for his ability and willingness to wear different hats, from writing software programs for E-Paath, to fixing laptops and servers, solving technical problems at schools, and spending weeks providing support to schools in remote locations. He will surely be missed.

New Interns

Niraj

Sumit Acharya has recently completed his engineering in 'Telecommunication' from MVJ College of Engineering, Bangalore. His field of interest is networking, programming and linux systems. He provides technical assistance to the team.

Sahara

Prabhat Bhattarai completed A-Levels from Budhanilkantha School. He is determined to study or do research throughout his life. He wants to animate and learn to program video lessons. He believes in open and free education.


Kunja Shrestha finished his schooling from Welham Boys School, Dehradun. He is looking forward for different experiences in the course of the internship. He believes that education is one of the most essential parts of life.


 

  • E-Paath is a set of curriculum-based interactive digital learning materials developed by OLE Nepal.
  • E-Pustakalaya is OLE Nepal’s education-centered digital library consisting of books, reference materials, school wikipedia, etc.
  • E-Paati is the Nepali name for the XO laptops used in OLPC program schools.