News from Nepal - Letter from Janice Miller, CEO Kidasha
I have recently returned from a visit to Nepal and as always, the trip reinforced the fact that there is nothing as instructive or motivating as seeing first-hand the challenges and opportunities present in the country and the life-changing work Kidasha is doing there.
Rather than write a lengthy tome, I thought I would focus on work we are doing to provide alternative learning opportunities for children who have been failed by mainstream education.
A large proportion of the young people we support have never benefitted from regular schooling, and as such many can hardly write their own name. Simply trying to get them back into school is not a realistic option, particularly when many of them are forced to work to survive and besides which, traditional ‘chalk and talk’ teaching methods fail to engage them. Hence one of our ongoing challenges is creating new innovative learning opportunities that cater for mixed age groups with varying levels of ability, who have little or no confidence or interest in education or wider personal development.
Recognising these issues has led us to pioneer a new learning approach: Functional Learning.
This means improving literacy and numeracy skills through practical, day-to-day applications e.g. teaching students to fill out important forms, such as those needed to buy a SIM card; or to read road signs; or calculate prices for a receipt. Having these skills can dramatically increase opportunities and open doors, and we are already seeing how this approach is fostering real motivation and attendance amongst the young people we support.
We run these classes in students’ workplaces at times to suit their working hours, so wanting to personally attend a couple of classes meant getting up at 6am, which was somewhat challenging! But not so for the boys in the class who were already poring over their notebooks when I arrived. Hearing about their situations and the difference the course was making was a very humbling but also inspiring experience. I was particularly moved and to be honest tearful, when one boy showed me his squalid living conditions - his living space was filthy and not much bigger than a coffin, yet his appetite to learn and attend our classes was a glimmer of hope for him in otherwise desperate surroundings. It brought home even more forcefully just how much of a lifeline our services provide to these children who otherwise remain invisible and ignored.
As always, I arrived back in the UK with much to think about particularly with the funding challenges and ever-increasing needs we face on the road ahead. But thinking of the boy in his ‘coffin-like’ room and seeing the difference our work is making to individual lives makes me and the whole Kidasha team even more determined to continue to improve as many lives as we possibly can.
Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement – without which none of the above would be possible