What is success? Has the work that I have done here in Nepal been successful? Have I made a difference?
After 22 months working in Lamjung it is time for me to look at what has been achieved with the 12 schools and teachers involved in the 'Sisters for Sisters Education in Nepal Project'. This project aims to encourage more young girls to attend and stay at school to complete their education. These girls are the 'Little Sisters'. They are supported by 'Big Sisters' older girls from the community who have completed their education.
Fortunately my last job in Lamjung was to collect data about the lessons and the schools, using the same criteria as had been used at the start of the project, so providing up to date and measurable data.
Almost 2 years ago many of the lessons I observed comprised of teachers talking and students listening. In some the teacher talked through the whole lesson and the students did nothing except listen! Lessons were mostly unplanned, taught from the textbook and there were no resources used to help with understanding or learning. Behaviour in some lessons was poor and there did not seem to be good respect between teacher and students. In many lessons students appeared to be bored.
|The girls side of the class|
|Two Little Sisters at one hilltop school|
The schools had a similar disregard for girls rights and needs. In many schools the girls toilets had no running water, nowhere private for girls to wash and change sanitary towels and no bin for used ones to be disposed of. In one school the girls toilet door (one toilet only) did not even shut properly or lock. It was not surprising that many girls would not attend school when they were menstruating.
Also boys dominated the everyday life of many of the schools. Boys led daily assembly, represented students on student councils and management committees and were chosen for many important leadership roles. At break times the play areas were normally used for the boys football games, leaving the girls nowhere to play active games. That was two years ago!
|Mixed seating for lesson in temporary classroom.|
|Prepared resources used in lessons|
It is good to report that, in most of the schools, lessons have improved. In no lesson did I see the teacher talking for the whole lesson and all had some student activity. In many lessons the teacher had obviously planned the lesson and brought prepared materials e.g. word cards, to contribute to learning activities. Behaviour was good in many lessons, much improved from two years ago, perhaps because there is now more respect between teacher and students.
Most schools have included gender sensitive issues into this years School Improvement Plan and Headteachers report that the project has had a big impact on their schools. Some girls toilets have already been improved whilst plans for improving most others have been formulated and included in this years School Improvement Plan.
|Girls playing football.|
|Girls leading assembly|
Female teachers too are becoming more assertive and acting as role models for the girl students.
|Happy to be at school!|
Almost all of the 320 Little Sisters that we have been working with from the start of the project are still attending school regularly, which is a success story in itself!
There are other beneficiaries however, unplanned for in the original project proposal. The Community Mobilisers, who work supporting the Big Sisters and involving the local communities, have grown in confidence and developed new skills. They speak confidently at large meetings of teachers and/or community members about the project or the rights of girls and women. The Big Sisters too have increased their confidence and skills, and I hope many will go on to find work in the future where these attributes can be used. Well done to you all!
I feel sure that this project has made a difference to the future prospects and life chances of at least some of the girls, Little Sisters, that we have been working with. If this is so then the project has been worthwhile.