OLE Nepal May - June 2013 Newsletter - Issue 21

We hope you enjoy this edition of E-Learning Exchange, OLE Nepal's bi-monthly email newsletter. 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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E - Pustakalaya launched by the Chief Secretary

The Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal was on site to launch the E-Pustakalaya at Nepal Higher Secondary School in Tandi, Chitwan on May 4, 2013. The school was the first in Chitwan district to get the E-Pustakalaya project as part of a partnership between the GoN, NRNA and OLE Nepal. This year, the GoN through the Ministry of Education (MoE) had provided funds to 668 school across the country to acquire computers with the goal to improve access to quality education in public schools. The NRNA agreed to contributed additional funds to few schools in Chitwan so that the schools can install local offline E-Pustakalaya servers, allowing students and teachers to access learning materials such as books, audio books, educational videos, reference materials, etc using the new computers. Since most schools do not have Internet connectivity, and since bandwidth cost is still high in Nepal, offline E-Pustakalaya server was the perfect solution for the schools.


Dr. Shiva Gautam, Chief Secretary Mr. Leelamani Poudel,
MoE Secretary Dr. Som Lal Subedi, and Joint Secretary
Mr. Mahashram Sharma listening to OLE Nepal's
Mr. Rabi Karmacharya at the launch program

The program was attended by high ranking officials from the MoE including Secretary Dr. Som Lal Subedi, Joint Secretary Mr. Mahashram Sharma, Director General of Department of Education (DoE) Dr. Lava Deo Awasthi, NRNA President Mr. Jiwa Lamichhane and special advisor Dr. Shiva Gautam. Speaking at the program, Chief Secretary Mr. Leelamani Poudel lauded the partnership between the NRNA, GoN and OLE Nepal to provide much needed resources at the school. Similarly, Dr. Gautam hoped that this project will set an example of how various stakeholders can work together in Nepal's development. OLE Nepal's Rabi Karmacharya expressed commitment from our organization's side to work with the GoN and NRNA, and emphasized the need to provide learning resources and training along with hardware to schools.

Earlier, OLE Nepal's network team had visited the school to install E-Pustakalaya server and connect 12 computers to the school network through switches and routers. After the launch, the team held an orientation and training session to 25 teachers from the school. During the orientation session, teachers were made aware about the available resources and ways of accessing them. They were also given the opportunity to explore the E-Pustakalaya for the first time, hence their concerns and queries were addressed immediately during the training session.

The Chitwan District Education Office has already contacted OLE Nepal to install the E-Pustakalaya in other schools in the district.

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Laptop program in the national media

 

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Bajhang Project Updates


The XO laptops order for ten schools in Bajhang has already been placed with the OLPC Association. A total of 250 laptops will be used in these schools, allowing 1,000 students in primary grades to learn using digital activities loaded in them. The program will be implemented jointly by OLE Nepal, the Department of Education, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). OLE Nepal had raised funds from individuals, groups and companies in Nepal and abroad to acquire the laptops. The project implementation cost will be funded by the WFP.

Remotely situated schools in Bajhang district

The German international development agency -- Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) -- is the latest partner to join the project. GIZ will provide the solar energy power system to the ten schools since there is no electricity in these remote communities. The next step is to work with the Bajhang District Education Office to identify the schools, and start working on the installation of the solar energy system. We expect the laptops to arrive by September, and the project is scheduled to be launched in Bajhang after the Dasain festivities in November.

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Improvement in science learning in Doti and Dadeldhura

OLE Nepal had developed E-Paath digital learning materials to help students learn concepts in agriculture, food, nutrition, health and hygiene with special emphasis on promoting balanced gender roles across these topics. The project funded by the WFP also included distributing these materials to schools in seven districts, and training science teachers to integrate these materials in classroom teaching. In order to understand the effectiveness of these content, baseline and endline surveys were conducted in eight program schools in Doti and Dadeldhura districts. The baseline data were collected when these content were introduced in the OLPC schools in 2012, and the endline survey was carried out in April this year. Quick comparison between the two surveys show a 16 percent rise in student scores on tests designed to assess their understanding of the topics. The results are presented in the graph below. Although, Saraswati School from Doti had a slight decline in their average score, it should be noted that the students their had high score in the baseline study, indicating that they already had a good grasp of the concepts even before this intervention. Once again, the detail report and data will be shared once it is ready within the next couple months.

 


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Evidence of positive impact of laptops

In order to measure the impact of the ICT-integrated education program, OLE Nepal had conducted baseline surveys at fifteen schools in three districts - Solukhumbu, Banke and Baglung - before launching the program in 2012. Now that the program completed one full year, another survey was held at the same schools. The results of the two surveys have been tallied and compared to find if there has been any measurable improvement in students understanding of various concepts.

The survey was carried out in five schools in Solukhumbu, four in Banke, and six in Baglung where the laptop program was implemented with the Embassy of Finland's Fund for Local Cooperation. The three visits, spread out over May-June, have provided OLE Nepal with the data that shows how children have performed before and after the introduction of laptop based teaching and learning.

Students putting down what they've learnt

The preliminary results show that in a year students were able to learn concepts at a pace that would not have been possible with traditional way of learning. As the graph indicates, performances of schools in all three districts have increased significantly. Comparison of baseline and endline surveys are tabulated below. It shows that students in all the schools have scored at least 75 percent in the endline survey. Some schools have average score of above 90 percent. The lower standard deviation in the survey data shows that the performance of most students is not far from the average.

This has been a rather encouraging finding for us. We will be sharing the detailed report soon.

 

Experience Sharing

Excerpts from Dilip Kumar Acharya's Experience


Dilip Kumar Acharya

I had the opportunity to learn about the E-Pustakalaya and other technology innovations used in the educational field during the seven day field to program schools in Baglung district. I was involved in conducting school-survey to assess the effectiveness of laptop-based teaching and learning program. In each school, we randomly selected ten students each from Grades 2 to 5 to and tested them on their understanding of English and math concepts. These students had been using interactive digital content, E-Paath, through the laptops for the past one year.

We administered the survey at Janta higher secondary school at Rangkhani, and we interacted with few teachers and students and discussed various education issues. The school was located on a very remote hill, and had limited infrastructure. In this respect, the school was representative of most rural schools in Nepal. However, I feel that education will change the situation in such schools. (Photo: Prithvi High School: Poor condition of the school in Baglung, but students are getting a chance to learn through ICT-based education system).

Before the field visit, I had come across media reports about policy makers and leaders criticizing INGOs and NGOs for only spending development money on attending meetings at five star hotels instead of benefiting the communities as per the project goals. However, after the field visit my opinion on NGOs changed because I was able to observe OLE Nepal's program very closely. I visited five schools in Baglung where OLE Nepal's program was running, and I found that the schools were working towards improving the quality of teaching and learning through new medium such as technology. The teachers and staff were about thirty to forty five years of age, but they accepted the new medium of teaching and learning and were dedicated and hopeful that they can bring about improvement in education by accepting the new paradigm in teaching and learning.


Children using E-Paati in a school in Baglung

During this visit I also learned that although good infrastructure is critical to student learning, teacher training is very important in contributing to improving the classroom process. The training to teachers conducted by OLE Nepal focused on the fact that students learn best while doing, hence teachers were given theoretical and practical training on how to engage students in the classrooms. During the training, teachers were allowed to practice their newly acquired skills - using technology in education - so that they felt comfortable when technology was first used in their classrooms to teach their students. It was very interesting to see that the training taught teachers how to integrate the textbooks they were already using with various other teaching materials and laptops with digital lessons.

Through the interactions with students and classroom observations, I found that students were not intimidated by teachers. I feel that the laptop-based teaching and learning allows students and teachers to have constructive dialogues which I think leads to a better educational system.

I believe that donor agencies, NGOs, communities, guardians and teachers can play important role to improve the quality of education. I want to thank OLE Nepal for helping me gain firsthand knowledge regarding using technology in education, and for allowing me to take part in the interactions at the schools.

Dilip Kumar Archarya is a M.Ed. student at Kathmandu University, School of Education
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Program Monitoring - Doti and Dadeldhura

During the monitoring and support visit to eight schools in Doti and Dadeldhura, OLE Nepal's field team checked the status of the program, observed classes, held discussions with teachers, parents, and students, and provided technical support. The team found that the schools had started implementing the recommendations made during the previous visit. Most of the school who had previously used the E-Pustakalaya only on a limited basis were found to have started using it regularly, and few had even started to use it to promote reading. Some fo the teachers had listed books for their students to read from the E-Pustakalaya. Because more and more students were using the E-Pustakalaya, most of them could easily connect to the wireless routers and access the E-Pustakalaya. One of the suggestions made to the schools was to hold discussions regarding what books students have read, and what they learned from them.


5th grade students during their Math class:
Selaling Primary School, Dadeldhura

During the previous visit, teachers were encouraged to keep a record of each time they taught a class using laptops and E-Paath activities. OLE Nepal had provided record-books for this purpose. With more teachers using the record-book, it was easy for the team to see the extent of the use of laptops in each school. Schools had also become better at managing the laptops, and keeping aside the ones that needed repair. Previously, OLE Nepal's technical team and teachers had to spend time opening and turning on each laptop to identify the ones with problems. During the visit, the team also updated the school servers, and fixed minor network problems.
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Refresher Training

Baglung and Solukhumbu

Teachers refreshing their E-Paati basics at DEO, Baglung

A four-day refresher training for teachers of five program schools in Solukhumbhu district was held in May at the Lead Resource Center (LRC) in Salleri. A total of 24 teachers from the five schools attended the training. Similarly another refresher training was also conducted in June for 44 participants from six schools of Baglung district at the District Education Office and Rudre Pipal Secondary School in Baglung Bazaar. OLE Nepal staff Ganesh Ghimire was mentored into a trainer during these trainings.

 

After an in-depth discussion between the facilitators and the teachers, the teachers decided the issues to be tackled in this training. This discussion helped teachers open up in a relatively short time and come up with the issues they face in their daily classroom teaching and learning. The solutions to these issues were sought out by the teachers themselves through sharing of each others ideas. The participants' concerns could roughly be divided into three categories; pedagogical, technological and queries relating to management and safety of equipments in the classrooms.


Teachers huddle around a possible pre-EPaath activity, Solukhumbu

In the pedagogical front, importance of pre E-Paath activities was reiterated. A few teaching strategies such as Predict, Observe and Explain ( POE) and gallery walk were discussed and demonstrated to help teachers brainstorm other similar ideas that can used as pre E-paath activities. Technical glitches, that arise whilst using E-Paatis, were noted, and ways to solve them were discussed in length. On the management aspect, at least two teachers from each of the five school are capable of updating laptops when needed. The safety of the laptops was of prime concern to many of the participants.

The participants said they found the training helpful. They were particularly impressed to see how the national curriculum, textbooks and E-Paath could be interlinked and used to effectively facilitate a class. Teachers admitted that E-Pustakalaya was underused and expressed willingness to reverse the trend.

Belbas

In Belbas, the refresher training held at at Siddha Beni Lower Secondary School was for two days and attended by 14 teachers. The training concentrated mainly on assisting teachers on how to effectively integrate digital lessons with curriculum and books that teachers are already using. It also assisted them on how to maximize children's use of the E-Pustakalaya.

Participants refreshing their E-Pustakalaya knowhow

The training included ways that teachers could motivate children to read by giving students list of books to read from E-Pustakalaya within a months or two months time.

The participants expressed that this training was helpful to refresh many strategies and skills useful to integrate technology in their daily teaching and learning process.

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SchoolTool Implementation - Follow-up & Support Visit

Discussing School Academic Calendar with Head Teacher

Towards the end of April, OLE Nepal visited Shree Siddha Beni Lower Secondary School, of Tanahun district to help the school get started with implementation of SchoolTool. On OLE Nepal's suggestion, the school decided to dedicate Ms Santumaya Thapa, a librarian for this purpose. One of the reasons the school was not able to implement SchoolTool earlier was the lack of a person dedicated for this job. The three day training, to Ms. Thapa helped her to easily enter the school record into the system.

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E-Pustakalaya Update

The E-Pustakalaya team is busy collecting and editing profiles of authors. While profiles of internationally recognised authors are easily available on the Internet, finding descriptions of Nepalese authors are challenging. Therefore, E-Pustakalaya's team have been meeting authors and documenting their experiences and activities, that the authors deem worthy of their own profiles. Once a sketch of a profile has been drawn up, it is shown to the author for a final verification before it is put up on E-Pustakalaya.

The team has also been working on digitizing Curriculum Development Center's Grade one English book known as "My English", and synchronizing it with audio of the text which was developed by the Rato Bangla Foundation. A prototype of one unit is ready, and development of further units is expected to be very smooth and fast.

Total number of views and downloads for May-June:

 

This month's popular review and feedback from users on E-Pustakalaya

 

Feedback

This website is very useful and important. Readers like us feel that we need to give praise to this website. This website could be even more useful if course-specific materials and textbooks were added for students of higher education. As it is difficult to find course books in the market in Nepal, the option of easily accessing and downloading them from sites like yours would be a great help. Thank you.

By Hari Aryal, Kathmandu


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Book Title: Beekeeping Trainers' Resource Book

Useful book on beekeeping This books is very useful and practical resource for Nepali farmers who have taken up beekeeping. It would benefit many more farmers if the book could be made available more widely. Thank you..

by Karna Rokaya, Simkot 3, Humla, Karnali

Office News

Farewell to Roshan Karki


OLE Nepal has bid farewell to its Lead Software Developer, Roshan Karki. Roshan has been a part of OLE Nepal since 2008, and has been an integral part of the organisation. He was primarily involved in the overall operation of E-Paath development, writing build scripts, maintaining repos and making it XO compatible. Later, he was also responsible for managing the content development team. OLE Nepal wishes him the best for all his future endeavours.

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Financial Management Training


The Embassy of Finland organised a two day Financial Management Training this May to assist its partner organisations. OLE Nepal attended this training, which was jointly conducted by chartered accountants, Raj MS & Co. The training covered the areas of an organisation's internal control mechanism, cash, bank and inventory management, taxation, governance, reporting requirements and Social Welfare Council's provisions regarding any foreign funded projects. The training has been helpful in clarifying provisions of the embassy's Fund for Local Cooperation (FLC) program guidelines as well as other government provisions.

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Call for Volunteers


OLE Nepal is organizing a special "Volunteer Program" with the support from Maitri Trust where trained young graduates will spend three months in school communities to provide assistance in project implementation and school support. Volunteer Program has emerged to fill the need for a hands-on assistance to teachers and schools on using technology effectively in classroom teaching-learning process and to guide students and teachers to utilize the resources made available through the project.

OLE Nepal is looking for energetic individuals interested in being part of this pioneering project that will transform education in the country and make learning fun for children in our classrooms. Volunteers will get a unique opportunity to learn about the application of technology to enhance primary education while gaining invaluable insights to the challenges faced by schools in remote areas. Initially, the volunteers will spend one month at the OLE Nepal office in Sanepa, Lalitpur, learning about technology, digital resources, pedagogy, education system, and community relations.

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OLE Nepal is hiring

OLE Nepal is looking for enthusiastic and committed individuals interested to working in promoting quality education in rural schools. Details of positions are maintained in the website regularly.

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  • 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.