OLE Nepal Sept-Oct 2012 Newsletter - Issue 17

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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Improving education quality and access through E-Pustakalaya

Following our belief that by providing freely accessible high-quality interactive teaching-learning materials along with an education-centered electronic library, we would be on our way in a major way towards addressing the problems of quality, access, and disparity in education, OLE Nepal ventured into the E-Pustakalaya project in 2008. In particular, an educational and widely accessible library like E-Pustakalaya will enable students, teachers and other community members in different geographic and economic locations to freely access the same high quality educational resources at their own convenience.

The Nepal Library Foundation provided OLE Nepal with a start up fund to set up the basics of the library and then additional funds from 2009 till date to grow the library further to be a robust and publicly available website and resource center. This fund has been instrumental in helping OLE Nepal turn E-Pustakalaya into a digital repository of over 4000 books that can be accessed from the Internet or through local offline servers installed in schools and community libraries that are without Internet access. E-Pustakalaya allows users to browse through the library collections, search for specific items, read documents in the web browser, and download documents for later use. These materials provide invaluable resources to students, teachers as well as to the general reader.

The popularity of E-Pustakalaya is evident in the high number of downloads from its website as well as the increasing number of requests for installation of offline servers at schools and community libraries. Many schools that already have computers realize that a little extra investment on an offline server will provide instant access to a wealth of resources, enabling students and teachers to use the existing computers to read books, explore the school wikipedia, watch educational videos, and play learning games. Such access was unthinkable in these often remote areas where Internet access is either non-existent or excruciatingly slow. OLE Nepal's agreements with authors as well as partnerships with organizations such as Room to Read, the British Council, Practical Action, Rato Bangla Foundation, Nepalese Society for Children's Literature, Save the Children have enabled us to include many books and learning materials in this searchable digital repository.

E-Pustakalaya in Gulmi

Eight schools in Gulmi district recently requested OLE Nepal's help to install E-Pustakalaya servers, and to set up an intranet to make the digital library accessible from the computers available at the schools. Three of the schools were located in the district headquarter, Tamghas, while five others were spread across the district. Two teams from OLE Nepal visited four schools each to carry out the installations, with facilitation from the local staff of the Rato Bangla Foundation's Gulmi office.

E-Pustakalaya deployment in the schools involved setting up local area networks, installing required software on the client machines and conducting orientations at all the schools. The beneficiary schools were: Arjun Higher Secondary School, Siddhababa Higher Secondary School, Resunga Secondary School, Janabodh Higher Secondary School, Panchayan Higher Secondary School, Gyanodaya Higher Secondary School, Himalaya Higher Secondary School, and Mahendra Adarsha Higher Secondary School. The cost required for the hardware and installation were covered by the schools themselves.


E-Pustakalaya in Gyanodaya School Gulmi

Over 300 teachers and students were given orientation on the content and usage of E-Pustakalaya. An E-Pustakalaya inauguration ceremony was also held at Siddhababa Higher Secondary School in Tamghas, chaired by the District Education Officer of Gulmi, Mr. Govinda Prasad Aryal.

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E-Pustakalaya Update

OLE Nepal has been constantly adding new materials to E-Pustakalaya. According to its online statistics, the number of views and downloads are increasing steadily. In order to gather feedback on the use of E-Pustakalaya, OLE Nepal's monitoring teams visited visited few of our program schools where offline servers containing E-Pustakalaya had been installed. The survey was carried out among students, parents and teachers in sixteen schools. The data is currently being analyzed in order to learn how we can further strengthen the usability of E-Pustakalaya. Preliminary report indicates that Nepali children's literature is the most popular genre, and that there is a high demand for books on general knowledge.

At present, we are scanning and uploading the literary works of Sabitri Jangam Thapa and Bishnu Prasad Shrestha.

E-Pustakalaya currently has a total of over 4000 titles. Our new interface, which will include features such as ratings, bookshelves and reviews, will be released by the end of this year.

YA Literature Award

Flashbackma Jindagi, a book written by Laxmi Upreti, a participant of the Young Adult Literature Workshop that we facilitated last year, has been awarded the Gothale Kishor Sahitya Pandulipi Puraskar 2069. This book is one of the successful results of our efforts to contribute to the field of YA Literature. Gothale Kishor Sahitya Pandulipi Puraskar, which was initiated this year, felicitates one work in the field of Nepali YA Literature every year.

Audio Book Recording

Recently, we conducted a day-long audio recording session with author and storyteller, Dr. Dhruva Ghimire. A total of four Nepali short stories and poems were recorded during the session. We plan to invite more storytellers and poets to record their respective literary works, as this field appears to be highly appealing to children. Visit the digital library at www.pustkalaya.org

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

Title Author File Downloads
Nepali Brihat Sabdakosh (Nepali) Nepal Academy 2358
Hitler Ra Yahudi (Novel) Bisheshwar Prasad Koirala 330
Shakuntal Laxmi Prasad Devkota 327
Beekeeping Training for Farmers in the Himalayas ICIMOD 299

*Does not include the downloads from the offline servers in our program schools

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Teacher Training and Deployment

Baglung

Trainers from National Center for Educational Development teamed up with OLE Nepal's trainers to conduct training on ICT-based education to 45 participants -- 41 teachers from six schools and 4 Resource Persons (RP) from various Resource Centers. Two interns form OLE Nepal assisted the trainers for the entire seven-day period from September 9 to 15.

The training program focused on equipping teachers with skills necessary to integrate ICT in their regular classroom teaching. The training modules were carefully designed to combine ICT literacy and theories of learning and management with hands-on activities and practice teaching sessions that fully engage participants. The participants left with a clear understanding of OLE Nepal's curriculum-based bundle of digital learning activities, E-Paath, and its digital library, E-Pustaklaya. They also learned how to prepare integrated lesson plans, use teacher notes, and to manage students and classrooms in this new paradigm of teaching and learning.


Training in Baglung

After the conclusion of the training, the team was joined by OLE Nepal's technical team, who then went to each of the six schools to establish school network with offline digital library server, and brief the teachers on the basics about network and its maintenance. In total, 275 E-Paati laptops were deployed at the following six schools: Rudrepipal Secondary School in Baglung, Tribhuvan Higher Secondary School in Kharbang, Mahendra Higher Secondary School in Narethanti, Ganesh Secondary School in Narayansthan, Prithivi Higher Secondary School in Amalachaur, and Janata Secondary School in Rangkhani. Embassy of Finland's Fund for Local Cooperation is supporting the laptop programs in Baglung, Banke and Solukhumbu districts.

Doti

OLE Nepal conducted a seven-day training on technology-integrated education to 20 teachers from three schools in Doti from August 27 to September 2. The training focused primarily on the use of technology in education through the means of E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya to raise the quality of education that students receive, and to equip teachers with the skills necessary to integrate technology in their classroom teaching process through a carefully designed training program that covered topics on IT literacy, learning theories, classroom management with hands-on activities such as doing activities on laptops, preparing lesson plans, and practice teaching sessions using laptops. The training was carried out in coordination with Good Neighbors International - Nepal, and attended by three field staff from local partner organization, Asal Chhimeki.

At the end of the training, a tripartite meeting was organized between School Management Committee (SMC) representatives and principals from the three schools, Asal Chhemeki's chief in Doti and OLE Nepal to apprise the stakeholders about the program and their roles in ensuring successful use of laptops in the schools. The participants were given a presentation on the different aspects of the program, and its various challenges and opportunities were elaborately discussed and the responsibilities of different stakeholders were listed out. The attendees shared their happiness over the introduction of the program in their schools and expressed their willingness to do the needful to help children learn better.


Doti teachers with E-Paati laptops

After the training, a total of 75 E-Paati laptops were deployed to the three schools -- Masteshwor Primary and Sunadevi Higher Secondary in Lagadaga VDC and Mastamandu Higher Secondary School in Pokhari VDC. Two of the schools were also provided with power backup systems. After installation, select teachers from each school were orientated on the basics of networking. The laptops for the project were made available by the UN World Food Program.

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SchoolTool Training and Internet in Belbas

OLE Nepal provided SchoolTool training to a group of eight teachers at Siddabeni Lower Secondary School in Belbas of Tanahu district on September 15 and 16. SchoolTool is a Student Information System software which can be used for tracking various students records such as attendance, enrolment, grades and reporting.

Implementing a software like SchoolTool is quite an undertaking for schools, and requires a lot of time and resources. During the training, a small scenario of school data was created and teachers were allowed to independently create, add and modify data in the system. OLE Nepal has already customized SchoolTool package to Nepal's context and bundled in our standard school server package. It is available in both English and Nepali languages.


School Tool Training in Belbas

During the visit, OLE Nepal's team also helped establish Internet link at the school. The team initially looked into the possibility of relaying ADSL connection from Damauli Bazar to the school, but could not secure a proper line of sight due to a dense forest in front of the school. Instead a 256 kbps link was established through a local service provider, and now the 50 E-Paati laptops at the school are connected to the Internet. The link has been routed through the school server where a network filter blocks access to inappropriate content.

The SchoolTool training and Internet connectivity at the school was carried out with support from Meters Maken voor Millennium from the Netherlands.

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CONGRATULATIONS to OLE Ghana

On September 7th 2012, International Literacy Day, USAID announced that OLE Ghana's innovative literacy program, 'Ghana Reads', was selected for funding from over 400 applications as part of USAID's 'All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development' program. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, was briefed personally about Ghana Reads by Kofi Essien, Executive Director of OLE Ghana, and Dr. Richard Rowe, CEO of OLE International. Dr. Shah expressed a strong interest in OLE's approach to learning and said he wanted to learn more.


Ghana Reads will be implemented in 20 schools with 3,600 students in the Western Municipality of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. Building upon OLE Ghana's successful literacy project in the rural village of Katapor, this program is expected to drastically improve literacy outcomes for students. Ghana Reads will provide schools with highly qualified Learning Coaches who will work with teachers and students as they move away from traditional rote learning to more dynamic activity-based learning. Coaches will support teachers in their transition from their traditional role as 'instructors' to a more supportive and collaborative role as 'learning coaches'. Ghana Reads' schools will have access to a vast array of high-quality, open learning resources that are directly relevant to their students learning levels and educational standards. Ghana Reads will introduce learning tools that support the achievement of the students' learning goals. In this regard, Ghana Reads will introduce the OLE School BeLL (Basic eLearning Library), a low-cost, multi-media digital library that works on or off the Internet and the electric grid. Students will access multi-media learning resources on the BeLL using 7" color tablets via Wi-Fi and work in learning teams of six students.


Mr. Kofi Essien

"The majority of our world's two billion children lives in or near poverty and have little or no access to a quality education. This is an unsustainable injustice and an intolerable waste of human talent," said OLE Ghana Executive Director, Kofi Essien. "Since the ability to read is the most basic skill required to overcome such poverty, one of humanity's greatest challenges is to invent ways to ensure that all of our children are reading. If we fail, tragically, their vast potential will be lost to all of us."

Dr. Richard Rowe, CEO of Open Learning Exchange International, points out that "Ghana Reads is not a program that relies on technology to magically improve education, rather it begins with coaches who help teachers transition from "instructors" to mentors. OLE's low-cost technologies support this pedagogical shift by radically increasing their access to high quality, interactive learning resources and, through the use of very low-cost hand-held devices, allow children to climb their own learning ladders at their own pace."

Open Learning Exchange is a global community of educational entrepreneurs creating and freely sharing innovations that can be scaled to all children, especially the most marginalized, in ways that unleash their immeasurable talents.Go to Top

Fundraising for Bajhang Project

OLE Nepal has launched a campaign to raise funds from individuals and corporations locally and internationally to buy laptops for children in Nepal. Through events in six major cities in the USA during the month of September, we were able to introduce OLE Nepal's work, and reach out to individuals interested in contributing towards buying laptops for the Bajhang project.


Pankaj with family after completing the 37th Marine Corps marathon

We would like to thank Mr. Pankaj Rayamajhi who ran the 37th Marine Corps marathon in Washington DC on October 28 to raise funds to buy laptops for children in Bajhang. Mr. Rayamajhi was able to raise US$ 2,655 through the marathon.

Over the past two months of September and October, OLE Nepal has raised funds to buy 65 laptops. We are introducing a unique gift scheme this holiday season to raise more funds for the remaining laptops. Please visit our donation site at www.olenepal.org/donate to learn more about the project and to buy unique gifts for your friends and family while providing children in Bajhang with the opportunity to a better education and a brighter future.

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Qualitative Evaluation

Qualitative evaluation was conducted in sixteen OLPC program schools of four districts, Dadeldhura, Doti, Kaplivastu, and Makwanpur in September. Impacts of OLPC laptop-based teaching-learning program on students, teachers, schools and communities were assessed, and lessons are being drawn from the findings of the evaluation to strengthen the program.

Preliminary findings showed that students who are allowed to use laptops freely have explored E-Pustakalaya extensively, and are found to have read books and learned concepts through E-Paath. Usage of E-Paath seem to have promoted interest in self-learning amongst students. Both students and teachers felt that students could assess themselves through exercises in E-Paath. Students were able to practice correct pronunciations and grammar simply by listening to the audio clips in E-Paath. Students were found to be less intimidated to make mistakes and to ask questions regarding things they did not understand. Teachers pointed out that students were more responsive than before, and quite a number of them have gained self-confidence.


Science teacher Khema Paneru with fourth graders in Saraswoti Primary School in Kailpalmandu Dadeldhura

Teachers who have received training seem to have been quite successful in using laptops and digital activities to deliver effective lessons to their students. Teachers commented that they could make learning fun and interactive through E-Paath as well as many other materials available locally through E-Pustakalaya. The activities in E-Paath have given teachers further ideas to be creative in their teaching.

Drawing from the findings, OLE Nepal now plans to focus on imparting teachers with skills on identifying and addressing the different needs of students at different academic levels. This topic will be covered in the refresher training package that will be prepared by OLE Nepal. The refresher training will also impart skills to teachers on how to build reading projects amongst students by emphasising the use of E-Pustakalaya so that students develop sound reading habits. With the introduction of new teaching and learning methods, the roles of head teachers have changed drastically. Head teachers need to be mentored in how to provide leadership to the school with the introduction of technology as a part of teaching and learning. We are planning to address this through either a leadership training or a mentoring session with the head teachers.

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Local Voices

These are excerpts from community interaction program held at Saraswati Primary School in Kailpalmandu, Dadeldhura in August, 2012)

"My kids used to tell me what they read in the E-Pustakalaya. After a while we parents usually dismissed them when they tried to tell stories that they had read, as we were busy with our work. I have realized that when we do this, our kids stop telling us what they have learned and stop sharing their views. I think showing interest in what kids are learning is itself a big motivation for kids to be interested in learning." "The school teachers have ensured that our kids continue to read and write along with the use of the laptops. After using the programs in the E-Paati laptops, our kids can fluently speak Nepali, its amazing to hear them speak something that we never learned. We don't understand half the Nepali they know. Now we want our kids to also learn English language equally well. We want OLE Nepal to help us in this."


Community interaction at Saraswoti Primary School

"We have never come to the school to watch the teachers teach our kids. We come here for meetings or other events. I really don't know what to see in the classrooms because I don't know the concepts myself. It would be good if we could evaluate how the teachers are teaching but I think our kids generation will be able to do that. "

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Partnerships

AirAsia X

OLE Nepal recently entered into an agreement with AirAsia X, a low-cost, long-haul airline of Malaysia to introduce laptops and provide training and support to a rural school in Lalitpur. As per the agreement, AirAsia X will sponsor 30 E-Paati laptops, along with equipment, training and support to implement laptop-based teaching/learning program in Chandi Devi Primary School located at Danuwar Gaun in Dukuchhap VDC of Lalitpur district as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project. The initial week-long teacher training for eight teachers from the school will be held in November, followed by installation of school network and program launch later in the month.Go to Top

Transformation Thinkers Conference

OLE Nepal's Executive Director Mr. Rabi Karmacharya was invited to attend the 7th Transformation Thinkers Conference jointly organized by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the German development agency (GIZ) held at Steinhöfel Castle near Berlin from September 2 to 8.


The six-day program for young decision-makers and leaders from all world regions was organized to foster intercultural dialogue on the strategic management of transition processes. It offered a unique opportunity for exchange on good governance and democratic change and for being part of a growing and vibrant alumni network that unites actors of change from more than 70 countries. The program included exciting debates, challenging viewpoints and inspiring dialogue among young reformers from all over the world.

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Upcoming events

OLE Nepal will be conducting training to science teachers from 23 OLPC program schools in Lalitpur, Kavre, Makwanpur, Kaplivastu and Mustang districts in November. A similar training was conducted to teachers from eight OLPC schools in Doti and Dadeldhura last April. The three-day long training program is designed to prepare science teachers to use the recently completed science E-Paath activities in classroom teaching with special emphasis on agriculture, health, nutrition and a balanced gender roles. The preparation of these activities and the training in all the above districts are being supported by UN World Food Programme.Go to Top

Office News

On November 25, 2012 OLE Nepal will be celebrating five years of enhancing Nepal's public education through the development and dissemination of quality learning materials and helping reduce the disparity in education quality and access across regions, school types, and population groups. We would like to thank many friends, individuals, partner groups and institutions who have assisted us in our endeavours over the past five years, and we look forward to more opportunities to do the same in the coming days so that we can realize our dream of making quality education accessible to all children in Nepal. Go to Top

  • 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.