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2015.01 ~ Pipaldanda School Furniture On Its Way!

posted 21 Jan 2015, 09:44 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:06 ]

Things are certainly progressing at Nava Durga Primary School in Pipaldanda and the finishing touches are starting to be applied.

In the slideshow below, you can see the brand new school sign ready for delivery and you can also see a local carpenter making the furniture for the schools. The typical delivery service shown here is a long way from "white van man"!

This robust, wooden furniture includes comfortable benches and tables. 

As with many other schools in Nepal, tables are a new concept for Nava Durga and will enable the teachers to be far more creative in their lesson planning as they are putting into practice some of the new teaching techniques they have been learning on the Manisha UK Teacher Training days.

This project was funded via the Steve Sinnott Foundation with the backing of T-GET (Teachers General Education Trust). The project has been managed from the UK by Manisha UK and delivered by Manisha UK local resources who have coordinated local labour and materials suppliers over the duration of the project. The project is all the more amazing when it is realised that, apart from the lorries and tractors that delivered materials up the steep and rugged terrain surrounding the school, there has been no mechanical assistance available to the workers, everything has been dug, built and finished by hand. An outstanding achievement and testament to the building abilities of the local workers who have earned good rates of pay throughout the project.


2015.01 ~ Pipaldanda School Nearing Completion

posted 21 Jan 2015, 09:22 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:05 ]

After 3 years of incredibly hard, manual work, Nava Durga School, Pipaldanda is nearing completion. 

This picture shows the school before the project started. The slideshow below shows the state as at early January, 2015.

Part of Project Palpa, the complete rebuild of this community's primary school has seen the school transformed from a dilapidated 2-storey, 4 classroom school housing over 120 Year 1 to 6 children; to a superb 3 storey, 8 classroom building with staffroom, library and new toilet block. 

The new school was built with 8 classrooms such that local children moving up to year 7 and 8 lower secondary, can do so without the 1.5 hour walk to a neighbouring community. Years 1 to 8 are the compulsory years of education in Nepal but many year 7 and 8 pupils never complete compulsory years due to the difficulty in reaching the nearest lower secondary school.

This project was funded via the Steve Sinnott Foundation with the backing of T-GET (Teachers General Education Trust). The project has been managed from the UK by Manisha UK and delivered by Manisha UK local resources who have coordinated local labour and materials suppliers over the duration of the project. The project is all the more amazing when it is realised that, apart from the lorries and tractors that delivered materials up the steep and rugged terrain surrounding the school, there has been no mechanical assistance available to the workers, everything has been dug, built and finished by hand. An outstanding achievement and testament to the building abilities of the local workers who have earned good rates of pay throughout the project.

From the projects' inception, Manisha UK was determined to ensure that this project not only delivered a step change in educational facilities but also furnished the community with a means of improving the sustainability of the school. To this end, the lower floor of the school is divided into 8 shop units, each capable of being rented out to local retailers to the benefit of the community and the school.

Workers are now tidying up the site and, having demolished the old school building, will be landscaping the surrounding area to provide and safe playground to the new school.



2014-12 ~ Pipaldanda School ~ Business As Usual!

posted 21 Jan 2015, 05:00 by Andy Langman   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:06 by Manisha UK ]

It's business as usual for the teachers and pupils at Pipaldanda school now that their old school has been demolished and frenetic work continues to complete the new school.
The slideshow below captures some of the atmosphere of "Keep Calm and Carry On" during the final stages of building.

Here can be seen the inside and outside of then new building being plastered, electric sockets and lights being installed, window and door frames being fitted. As yet there is no staircase up to the second floor of classrooms, this is due for completion by the end of December.


2014-11 ~ Dan's Latest Post

posted 20 Oct 2014, 03:03 by Andy Langman   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:05 by Manisha UK ]

Read our NQT Dan's latest blog here

2014-09 ~ FAQ: Volunteer Views

posted 26 Sep 2014, 00:05 by Andy Langman   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:04 by Manisha UK ]

Thinking of volunteering with Manisha UK? Below are the considered views of two of our latest volunteers, Elaine and Alan Hewitt, answering what they consider the most likely FAQs that might spring to mind. We'll look to build these, and all feedback we receive, into our main FAQ pages to give volunteers the best possible view of the commitment they are about to make.

By: Elaine Hewitt, primary school teacher.
Alan Hewitt, secondary school deputy head, science and maths teacher.


On retirement, having spent seven weeks in Nepal as Manisha UK volunteers, we thought it may be useful to focus on some of the questions you may be asking yourself.


Q: Why volunteer?

A: We felt that we still had a lot to offer as teachers. We wanted to volunteer in a country where we felt we could make a difference in the development of education.

Q: Why Manisha UK?

A: We wanted to work with a small charity where 99% or more of the money raised went to supporting schools and children. Nepal was perfect for us as we also like trekking and wanted to fit the Annapurna Base Camp trek into our seven weeks in Nepal.

Q: Did you get much support?

A: Yes, both before we went and whilst we were in Nepal. We were fully aware of what to expect in terms of lifestyle and facilities, e.g. toilets, in Tansen and the villages where we were based. Whilst in the Tansen area the Nepali twinned school’s coordinator, Saran, was always around to help and support us, he is such a helpful and friendly man.

Q: How much will volunteering cost?

A: Return flights are generally between £500 and £600 depending on departure time and arrival time in Kathmandu. The cost of living in Nepal is very cheap. Staying in a home-stay as a base in Tansen, making our own breakfast, eating out at lunchtime and in the evenings cost approximately £15 per day. This can be reduced by more self catering and not drinking alcohol.

Q: What would be the best amount of time to spend volunteering?

A: It really depends how much time you have available. We would say you need to allow about 5 days to get from the UK, settle in a home-stay and adjust to life in and around Tansen. You need 2 or 3 days for the return from Tansen to the UK. We allowed for two nights in Kathmandu on the way out and one night there on the way back home. Allowing for two weeks in the schools, it could be done in three weeks. However, the longer the better as most of the expense is in the airfare. We added on time to do a couple of treks which were so much cheaper to arrange out in Nepal – we would be happy to recommend who we used as they were excellent).

Q: Is it true that transport and the roads are bad in Nepal?

A: Transport is varied from local Jeeps, local bus (where you see Nepali life as it is) and tourist buses (between the main cities). Transport costs are very low, e.g. £2.50 per person, for the local bus from Tansen to Pokhara. You can fly between major cities. Once off the main roads (there are not many of these) the roads are really tracks of varying quality and windiness – they are quite exciting and you do get used to them as you go to the village schools.

Q: Would I be alone out in Nepal?

A: From October until the end of March there will be at least one other volunteer in Tansen with you. The schools are closed for long periods of time during October for religious festivals. April to December is generally time when schools are closed for the main holiday period and the monsoon rains hit Nepal.

Q: Having been out in Nepal to volunteer, would you go back again?

A: Yes, we are going back out for a second visit, for five weeks this time (no trekking). The people are wonderful, friendly and appreciative that you are out there. It makes you reflect on what is important in life as you witness the culturally rich villages and their people.


2014-09 ~ Building Progress At Pipaldanda

posted 12 Sep 2014, 02:11 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:04 ]

The rainy season is almost over and work can now begin apace at Pipaldanda again.

Before the rainy season the community really came together to beat the weather and complete the roof on the 3rd floor of the new school. During the rainy season very little building was possible as the roads to the school were impassable. However, and with funding from the government, the school did manage to build two new, and very badly needed, toilets.

There is sufficient material on site to plaster two of the 3rd floor classrooms and the school is now preparing an estimate for the completion of plastering of the 3rd floor.

As can be seen from the pictures below, great progress has been made since the project started but there is still some way to go to complete a fully functioning and safe learning environment or the children of Pipaldanda. Our agreement with the community of Pipaldanda is that we will provide funds for well defined and properly estimated stages towards the completion of the school. In this way, we can be assured of best value for money and the community can be assured of our continued support in not only building the school but also in helping raise standards of teaching through the Manisha UK Teaching Programme.


2014-09 ~ New Roof For Batase

posted 12 Sep 2014, 01:15 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:04 ]

In June, we reported the severe damage caused to the roof of the school building that Manisha UK had funded improvements to over the last 2 years. The school, that we know as Batase, the full name is Shree Bhagawati Himalaya Higher Secondary School in Batase community, asked for help from friends and supporters.

Guston Primary School and several individual donors sprang into action to raise funds that we sent to help towards the total cost of repair of the roof. 

In the last two weeks, the roof has been completely replaced and the school building is now back in use.

Many thanks to the children, teachers and parents of Guston Primary School and the other donors who helped Batase School complete this project; working against the poor weather conditions to achieve a very impressive new roof!


2014-08 ~ NQT Final Report On Schools - April 2014

posted 12 Sep 2014, 01:07 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:04 ]

Andy Bridges and Rob Davidson completed their placements at the end of March 2014. Below are the final reports on status of each of supported schools through the eyes of Andy and Rob. 

These reports serve not only as testament to the excellent progress made to date at our supported schools but also of the success of the NQT Placement Programme and the Teacher Training Programme driven through it.

A huge thanks to Andy and Rob for their time and efforts during their placements and for their invaluable feedback and input to the programme for the 2014/15 NQT Placement Programme.

Bagnas

Our smallest school but one that has made great strides forward under the guidance of Ram Lal who has been excellent for the school. The school now has three new classrooms which were completed during my stay. Their focus now is on providing furniture for these classrooms. This would make an excellent twinning project. If it is possible to fund school furniture I would suggest a move away from the traditional benches which are both uncomfortable and difficult to work from for the children.

The teachers at Bagnas were receptive to new ideas and there is certainly some creativity in their lessons. I saw on an unplanned visit to the school the children had made models of animals out of mud / clay. When I brought coloured paper to the school some of the teachers made their own displays. I would have liked to have seen the resources we brought along out more. They did say they would get round to displaying them properly but this had still not happened by the time they left. With their new buildings this school will be in a much better position – the old classrooms were in poor condition.

Dumre

Not yet officially a twinned school, though we hope this will be confirmed soon, I see a lot of potential in this school and they have some excellent teaching staff. They have a room to read library which they must try and use as much as possible. They are doing some good things though for example they have a reading scheme set up whereby books are levelled by difficulty and the children’s progress is recorded. This was excellent to see and something we need to encourage in our other schools. Some of the classrooms are in a fairly poor state with cracks in the structural walls. The school cited security of the classrooms as a reason that they do not put up display work. The classrooms where there is a secure door do have more display work though they are also the younger children’s classrooms so that may also be a factor. The teachers seemed to be interested and enthusiastic in what we were doing and the English teacher, a young man who belongs to the Dalit caste (lowest caste) is particularly strong and enthusiastic. His English was amongst the best we saw. The teachers who attended the training were always willing to take an active part. Whilst there I saw the Year 8’s doing extra studying in the evenings and early morning which shows that the teachers are committed to getting the best from the students.

Okhaldunga

Possibly one of the poorest (financially) schools we work in, in a beautiful but remote setting. Some of the primary classrooms located at the top of the hill were certainly amongst the worst I saw. A couple of them were little better than cow sheds. The lower part of the school actually has much better classrooms, including a new block containing 2 new classrooms, including the nursery. Whilst it is great to see the nursery being put in the best of the classrooms it is also important that they maximise the use of these buildings which at present is not being done. I did advise them that they should get the year 1’s or year 2’s in these classrooms in the afternoon if the room is vacant. Since there is no actual equipment in the classrooms this should not be a problem and would provide them with a much better learning environment.

The English teacher, Manu, spoke a reasonable level of English and it was mostly him who came to see our lessons. We did see some teaching outside which was good to see. A few of the teachers were looking to build a portfolio of pictures and written testaments from visitors in order to potentially attract tourists to come and stay in the village. The money from this would be used to provide funds for the school. It is good to see that they are looking into ways to help make themselves self-sufficient. The village is certainly in a beautiful setting and would appeal to tourists but it may be too far off the beaten track to attract many tourists.

Mahachaap

I was only able to visit this school on 2 occasions (with one visit being only for a meeting). The school’s relationship with Manisha UK has suffered on the back of various promises made by Mahendra which were not followed through. Unfortunately due to his promises the school purchased an area of land behind the school on the understanding that Manisha UK would fund a project to build them new classrooms. Unfortunately this was never cleared with the UK and the land remains completely unused. It is a raised area of land and I did make brief enquiries into how much it would cost to level out the land to at least give them more (much needed) space. I was told the cost for this would be around £200.

It took a long and difficult meeting with the people here to regain some trust and they allowed me to come and teach there for 2 days but they later cancelled another trip there I had planned. This school needs to be visited as soon as possible to re-enforce the message that we do want to help.

The classrooms in this school are small and very cramped and the building is fairly old and not in the best state of repair. There is no library at this school and resources were fairly minimal. A bookshelf was given to this school at the end of my trip and was deliberately an open bookshelf so that the children can see and use the resources. It will be important to check that the resources are out and available for the children to use and enjoy.

Pipal Danda

Pipal Danda was the school I visited most during my trip though with only one day of teaching. Work on the new school building is now underway again and the old building has been completely cleared. At my last visit they were working on a new toilet block and this had been prompted by inspectors coming around. The building work on the main building has also resumed though it has been made clear to them that no extra classrooms should be built.

My relationship with Tulsi, the headmistress is good and she has even sent me an occasional text since I returned to update me on progress. She is very much behind us and has really taken on board the advice given. The school was one of the best I visited in terms of displaying children’s work though there is still much to be done.

On my final visit, one of the units underneath the school was being used for training of some sort and so hopefully the school can make some money from letting out the units.

This is another school that needs to be visited as soon as possible to help reinforce our relationship and check on the progress of the building work.

Jheksang

I was far more impressed on my second visit to this school than on my first visit. They seemed to have really taken on board some of the things we said and they had made some effort with display work. The teachers were responsive to the idea of re-arranging the desks away from the traditional rows but I would be interested to know if this is still being used.

On my visit here the school were using Manisha UK funds to extend the playground area, though the idea of a safety railing at the back of the school seems to have been abandoned.

There is no library in the school but when we visited we did see children coming up and choosing some of the new resources to take a look at them and the staff arranged them promptly so that the children could see them. They are, however in the staffroom and so my feeling is that the children may not feel completely comfortable to come in. They have been given a new bookshelf by Manisha UK and so it would be nice to see that this has been set up in one of the ground level classrooms so that all children can access the materials.

Overall I was really impressed with the attitudes of the teachers here and their apparent willingness to try out new ideas.

Angakhola

One of our bigger schools with classes right up to 10+2. The school has a library and they have done a really good job on display work in the nursery and some of the lower classes. Some of the classes in the main building are quite small but perhaps the worst building is the one opposite the main building which has four classrooms. The walls do not come up to the ceiling and so the noise carries around all four classrooms. Some of these classrooms are also very dark.

The school has spent significant money on levelling out areas to ensure they can have playing areas and have got a volleyball court set up which is good to see. I did not see the tolilets in this school but was told they had separate facilities for children and staff.

The school seemed very willing to take on suggestions with Manisha UK and the relationship with them is very good.

Bhalebas

This is one of our largest schools and one that is doing quite well. The teachers are fully on board with what we are doing and always take an active part in our teacher training sessions. Mr Singh, the head teacher, took a lead role in part of the science teacher training and is certainly someone we will look to in the future in our aim of getting Nepali teachers training teachers.

The school has a good sized playing area, though one side has a steep drop of a few metres, which I consider to be quite dangerous, particularly when children are running around in that area. The school has an excellent library, courtesy of the ‘Room to Read’ foundation. What does slightly concern me is how much books and resources are bought out for children to use – they understandably want to keep them safe but we need to ensure they are being used as widely as possible.

The school has shown some good innovation in their classrooms and there is some good display work up, though more would be better! I was also happy to see that they had moved away from the traditional rows of seating into a way that is more conducive to collaborative working. 

This is one of the schools in which we hope to trial laptop computers and I feel this is one of the schools which is most likely, at present, to gain maximum benefit from this.

Gorkha

This is our biggest and furthest school from our base in Tansen. The school has some good staff, especially in the case of Radhika, who has just had her position made permanent at the school and speaks excellent English. I have good contact with her through Facebook and so can get a good idea of how things are going at the school.

There are a few major areas of concern in terms of the buildings in this school. Firstly the upper level walkway has no safety railing. Staff and children manoeuvre round a corner by standing on a rickety chair and shimmying themselves around the corner. This should be a priority to get finished though as we have recently heard the whole roof of the main building has been torn off by high winds and is seemingly irretrievable. With the monsoon coming this is another real concern.

The classrooms are however in relatively good condition (aside from the roof), though the toilet block was in a fairly poor state when I saw it. There is a large playing area which is great to see and the lower classes have their own area outside their classrooms. 


2014-07 ~ Roof Stage Completed At Pipaldanda

posted 5 Jul 2014, 07:48 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:04 ]

With monsoon clouds gathering, the community at Pipaldanda School came together to complete the rof of the third floor before the rains come down.

Time was short and although the paid workers had done really well to prepare the building in June ready for concreting the third floor roof, more help was needed. Manisha UK was asked if we could fund meals for the whole community to come together and engage over 100 workers in mixing, carrying, lifting and spreading the tons of concrete needed to cover the complete roof of the third floor. We were more than happy to fund this small reward for the hard work the community put in to get the roof completed and beat the approaching rain clouds. 

As usual, the whole process is manual and it took a huge effort to get the concrete mixed on the staff room roof and then lifted up to the third floor roof for spreading.

We are tremendously pleased and proud to see this flagship project back on track again. Well done to everyone in the Pipaldanda community and to Saran, our twinned school coordinator for his hard work to source materials and labourers to make this stage possible.

Work to complete the third floor classrooms and build a new toilet block can now commence as part of the next stages of the project.


2014-06 ~ Pipaldanda Building Work Restarts

posted 5 Jul 2014, 07:36 by Manisha UK   [ updated 18 Jun 2015, 04:03 ]

After an 15 month delay, the work to complete the building project at Pipaldanda School has restarted.

Work on Pipaldanda School was halted in February 2013 when Manisha UK decided to part company with its Nepalese partner charity, MCWFN. Having re-established a stable relationship with our supported schools, this time direct but with the help of the local Manisha UK team, Manisha UK has agreed project responsibilities and accountabilities with the school and community leaders at each school.

At Pipaldanda, this means we can now press on with the next stage of the school rebuilding project, which is to put the roof on the third floor of the new building. The photo to the left shows the bamboo scaffolding in place to support the concreting that will be completed in this phase. 

Regular visitors to this site will realise that the new building is built into a hillside. Therefore, the first floor is actually below ground level in the uphill view shown above. In the slide show below you can see the downhill view of all 3 floors.


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