Canada Foundation for Nepal has released its seventh issue of Concern Nepal. This issue contains an editorial that clarifies the changes that CFFN has undergone in the last year. The annual report discusses accomplishments of CFFN in 2009 as a report from the executives. Here, three projects are detailed: Open University of Nepal, Community Child Care Centre, and CFFN Radio’s Yuba Sanchar program. This issue contains four featured articles, each written by CFFN executives on matters important to the various CFFN initiatives. We invite you to enjoy the reading of our publication and get involved and contribute to Concern Nepal by sending news, views, op-ed writings and research articles.
- Annual Report 2010
- Featured Articles
- Inclusive Education: Breaking Barriers in Access to Higher Education in Nepal – Dr. Pramod Dhakal
- Helping Establish an Early Child Care Centre in Rural Nepal – Michael and Tineke Casey
- The Power of Exposure – Geeta Thapa
- Article by Dr. Govinda Dahal
- Creating Momentum: The Bricks and Mortar for Spreading Ideas – Ben Wood
Former Chair of Physics at McGill University of Canada, Ernest Rutherford, devoted his life to understanding atoms and the atomic model of elements. He was awarded the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and, in 1911, postulated a planetary model of the atom, where positive charges concentrated in a very small nucleus surrounded by huge empty space where nearly weightless electrons dwelt sparsely. Soon, he became known as the father of nuclear physics. Even for a great scientist like Rutherford, these little things called atoms proved to be so complex that neither he nor all the scientists combined have been able to fully understand them. The most primitive of building blocks of matter in the universe proved to be infinitely complicated.
When CFFN launched a series of small educational projects in rural Nepal, we had hoped to understand the problems in Nepal’s education exceptionally well. However, today we realize that problems of education may never be understood fully, even generations from now. We had hoped that we will solve educational problems at the individual child and individual school levels, and then replicate the solution throughout the country. However, today we understand that the problem of educating an individual child may not ever be fully understood.
Well before the conception of a scientific model of atom, Rutherford had concluded that it should be possible for atoms to disintegrate. Well before the knowledge of atom was mature, nucleus of atoms were split and atom bomb was made in a short span of time. In the same fashion, although it may take much time to understand the true nature of knowledge and learning, we saw unprecedented opportunities in breaking barriers to education. This has culminated into CFFN taking ambitious initiatives in breaking barriers to education in Nepal and in spreading the light of knowledge. Today, we say that the problems of education may never be understood fully but it should be possible to build institutions that take world class education to every seeker of knowledge in the world.
Annual Report 2010
For Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN), 2009/2010 was the year when its activities were not as noticeable from the surface as the ones in the past years. However, the organization was not without motion. We were taking significant steps to take endeavors that have substantially higher level of complexities compared to its past activities. In order to focus on critical tasks, we had to give up on our past approaches that were spreading our resources thin among many endeavors. In the past year, CFFN persisted solely in its goal to spread the light of education to the neediest and made some significant inroads.
CFFN believes that education is the most enduring foundation for every individual to develop their full potential. When the majority of a population is educated, the society and economy of a country flourishes. CFFN’s vision continues to be to touch the people at the margins of society through the light of education.
Open University of Nepal (OUN)
2009 was the year when the concept of distance education surfaced and flourished into a full-formed proposal and an initiative for establishing an enduring and ambitious institution, OUN. It was identified as the most desirable institute to spread the light of quality higher education to the masses with the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of money. Since this identification, a number of achievements have been made. Its basic promise has been explained through a separate article in this newsletter and also through another article published in NRNA Souvenir.
- The Open University of Nepal initiative evolved out of CFFN quest to mobilize Diaspora Nepalese in developing educational content and in distribution them using information and communication technologies. This led to CFFN presentation in NRN-Canada program in Toronto and its AGM in Calgary and the idea slowly caught on and reached up to 4th Global Conference of NRNA in Kathmandu held in October 2009. Along the way, series of studies and interactions led this idea drifted towards distance learning tools, technologies, and procedures utilized by many successful institutions in the world. This resulted in a fact-finding mission in December 2009 by a team of representatives of NRNA Regional Coordinator for North-Americas, NRN Canada, NECASE and CFFN to Athabasca University, the best known Canadian university in distance education. This mission not only concluded that Open University is a institution necessary in Nepal, but also established a strong working relationship with Athabasca University. The finding of the mission was presented to NRNA ICC to make a case that NRNA and CFFN could partner to make the dream of Open University of Nepal a reality.
- In December 22, 2010, NRNA formed a NRN Skills, Knowledge and Innovation Task Force (NRN SKI), which formed an Access to Education sub-task force to deal with all NRNA matters pertaining to education in January 2010.
- A team of three people led by Dr. Pramod Dhakal, and comprising of Dr. Ambika Adhikari and Dr. Drona Rasali was formed to advance the Open University initiative. Swiftly, the CFFN flyer prepared in June 2007 was re-developed to present Open University of Nepal initiative as CFFN and NRNA joint initiative.
- Building-up of strong working relationship with Athabasca University and ICDE are key highlights of our achievement. Through these efforts we have made great strides in building networks.
- Subsequently, a workshop on Open and Distance Education in Nepal to be held during NRN 4th Regional Conference was proposed to NRNA ICC and the proposal was approved. Therefore, a workshop is organized on May 28, 2010, which is bringing together institutional thinkers and academic experts of international stature to deliberate on academic, business, and governance of Open University of Neal.
- Immediately after formation of the Task Force, in 20th February 2010, presentation on OUN was made in NRN-USA Annual General Meeting in Louisville, Kentuky, USA. There has been significant amount of interest in Open University of Nepal initiative since then. NRN-Canada and NRN-USA have also taken up the cause.
- Meanwhile several rounds of interactions have undergone with the Ministry of Education in Nepal and a letter of request and a draft Memorandum of Understanding to be agreed among Government of Nepal, NRNA and CFF has been submitted to the Prime Minister of Nepal. All activities are progressing at the moment.
Community Child Care Centre (4C)
Another major project launched by CFFN in 2009 was 4C project “Community-based Early Child Care Centre”, under the initiation and leadership of by Michael and Tineke Casey. 4C project is significant because it addresses one of the previously ignored but high impact initiative. The aim here is to bring cooperation within the villages such that siblings, especially girls, would not have to assume the role of a mother and care for younger siblings while their parents work on the field. The aim is to help communities develop capacity to let children experience fun and be engaged in learning at the same time. More on the motivation and progress of the project is found in an article below. There have been some notable works in this project.
- Site survey, grassroots people mobilization, and formation of a committee to manage the affairs of 4C at a local level.
- Teacher selection through open competition, and teacher training.
- Supply of educational material and training on the usages.
- Successful operation of the first 4C centre.
- Design and construction of physical building, which is near completion.
- Recognition from Ministry of Education and payment of 25% salary of the teachers by the ministry.
- Collaborations flourishing between CFFN and EDWON to advance 4C project expansion.
- Coffee and tourism identified as backbone of sustainability of the centres. Collaboration with other interested organizations is under way.
CFFN Radio and Yuba Shanchar program have been other successful ventures in 2009/2010. Yuba Sanchar Radio was able to enjoy the contribution of two very respected and experienced members, Saligram Aryal and Govinda Dahal. Under Saligram Aryal’s coordination, Yuba Shanchar was able to make huge improvements in News and Interview sections. Additionally, Govinda Dahal brought invaluable knowledge and information on health related issues to Yuba Shanchar through educational and highly entertaining dramas. Yuba Shanchar has evolved from a small group of inexperienced youth’s endeavor to highly professional and educational radio program run by the same youth group with some helpful guidance.
Inclusive Education: A Hope Offered by Distance Education
Dr. Pramod Dhakal
CFFN, NRNA, NRN-Canada
Nepal has made some notable gains in promoting basic literacy considering that some fifty years ago the country was near total illiteracy. Today, the awareness about the value of education is at all time high, exemplified by the fact that education has become the most prolific private-sector growth industry. Nevertheless, this growth remains in and around urban centers where most of the universities and colleges are concentrated. Consequently, the educational bonanza has been largely enjoyed by the urban and relatively well-to-do families. That should partially explain why in South Asia, Nepal has the highest Gini Index (47.3), a measure of economic inequality, as per a World Bank report released in 2009.
Access to education among women, rural, poor and marginalized groups in Nepal remains significantly limited. UNESCO data indicate that 38 percent students in Nepal drop-out before completing Grade 5. Among those who do not drop out, the repeat rate is as high as 20 percent. Only nine percent youth enter into tertiary level education. Further, the attendance of women in tertiary education is reported at dismal three percent. The educational figures for the rural and the traditionally marginalized population are notably worse. According to Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2006, some 14.1% Brahmins attain higher education, while only 0.7% Dalits do the same (about 14% of Nepal’s population is Bhrahmin and 13% is Dalit). These data are indicative of the enormity of demographic divide and the work required be done to educate the population in Nepal. (Continue reading article…)
Helping Establish an Early Child Care Centre in Rural Nepal
Michael and Tineke Casey
One of the facts of life in rural Nepal is that young children – some as young as 4 or 5 – are often called upon to care for their younger siblings. With mother and father toiling in the fields from dawn to dusk it often falls on the very young to be the primary caregiver to children often only 1 or 2 years their junior. To those blessed with being born into wealthier environments this situation appears wrong on so many levels from child safety to the basic loss of a childhood experience for the child caregiver This older child (or, as often, the oldest female child) also loses out on schooling either late in first enrolling at school to being the first to abandon their studies. In some well documented cases the elder child brings the siblings along to school enlarging the class size and disrupting the class discipline with toddlers who are all too young to sit quietly through hours of class work. For an education system already under stress such disruptions are felt by all students and the entire community suffers as the cycle of poverty begins anew.
Now early childcare is an issue everywhere. Here in Canada where we are blessed with so much – even here, early child care is a day-to-day issue with parents – who will look after the young children while mother and father are off at work? So if it is an issue in Canada imagine what it is like in rural Nepal where mother and father work at back breaking work from dawn til dusk at a farm, tending goats or whatever their fate has cast them to. But what to do? What options do these people have? To survive one must work.
So, what to do? Or more specifically – what could we at CFFN do? (Continue reading article…)
The Power of Exposure
In the Year 2008, I took one semester off from my regular Bachelor’s Degree program to re-visit Nepal and I utilized part of this time as a volunteer at Janata Higher Secondary School. As it happens by pure coincidence, there I meet a five year old girl, Ashmita Chhetri. To have grown up in Kathmandu, I had many apprehensions and unknowns in my mind and I had no expectation that I would have a lasting impression from a five year old child. However, a brief conversation with this little girl left a new impression and outlook about people in me. There was something about Ashmita; we developed an instant bond and time after that became different.
Ashmita would hold my hands and take me to the school from my temporary residence at Madi, every morning, at 9am. During the one hour walk uphill in the mornings, I learned that, despite her young age, she has taken on many responsibilities of her household. She woke up before 5am and swept her house while her parents left for field work. Her mother would bring morning meal to start and Ashmita would look after it, controlling the fire in wood burning kitchen, until the food is cooked. The meal would be ready when her parents came back. Such sincerity and the burden of so complex responsibilities at such young age!
Story of Ashmita made me experience awe in appreciation of human potential and the sorrow of not having choices and options even for a five years old child. I wondered if there could be options to harness the amazing creative potential of children without taking away the fun, excitement, and freedom of playing with friends. Older siblings taking care of younger siblings, sisters sacrificing their education so that their brothers can go to school, and very young children looking after cattle is seen so easily in these villages. Things that would be taken for granted by young children of developed societies are mythical luxuries to children like Ashmita.
Conditions of poor families in Nepal’s villages plead for change and improvement in lifestyles where children could be raised in desirable learning environments. If not the change in the whole society, if a project can change the life of even a single child like Ashmita, I would consider it well-worth it. However, looking into the 4C project, which came to fruition from years of experience and long contemplations of Michael and Tineka Casey, I see potential for change at a larger scale. Therefore, I proudly salute Michael and Tineke for their dedication to build a better life for children – one village at a time, starting from Ashmita’s village.
As I reflect, I realize that the power of an exposure can be great in sensitizing our mind about many important issues of society and in changing course of our thoughts. After this encounter with Asmita it makes me think why many well to do people in the cities keep young children as their servants, and why much richer people in the west do not keep servants. Perhaps absence of exposure may be a reason why we remain indifferent about plight of others. And even in volunteering there are earnings of thoughts and reconstruction of our self!
Please visit an informational website http://usha.cffn.ca and learn more about the initiative. The proponents look forward to having cooperation and participation from many generous individuals and institutions for educating rural and marginalized people of Nepal.
प्रवास, रेडियो नाटक र स्वास्थ्य
आदीमकालदेखि आजसम्मको मानव सभ्यताको इतिहासले के देखाँउदछ भने मानव आजभन्दा भोली वा भोली भन्दा पर्सी अझ असल र ग’णात्मक जीवनको खोजीमै तल्लीन छ । यही खोजीकै क्रममा एक देशमा जन्मे ह’र्केका नागरिक अर्को देशमा बसाइ सर्ने र यदि नयाँ ठाँउमै जीन्दगी वढी सहज ह’ने देखिएमा त्यँही प्रवासी भएर वस्ने चलन पनि मानव इतिहासमा नौलो होइन र यो अभ्यास विगतमा भन्दा हालका वर्षहरुमा अझ वढी देखिएको छ ।
जाँहीँ वसेपनि दरिलो आर्थिक अवस्था, स्तरिय शिक्षा, र भौतिक तथा मानसिक स’स्वास्थ्यविना ग’णात्मक जीवन प्राप्त गर्न सकिन्न । क्यानडामा केहि वर्ष अघि मात्र गरिएको अन’सन्धानले के देखाएको छ भने शिक्षित तथा आर्थिक रुपमा सम्पन्न ब्यक्तिहरु विपन्न र अशिक्षित ब्यक्तिहरुको त’लनामा सचेत त छन् नै, तरपनि कतिपय आधारभ”त स्वास्थ्यका लागि आवश्यक क’राहरुमा, यीनीहरु पनि, विशेषगरी प्रवासीहरु, अनविज्ञ नै हँ’दा रहेछन् । जस्को फलस्वरुप दरिलो आर्थिक अवस्था र स्तरिय शिक्षा भएका मानिसहरुलाई पनि निरोगी भई ग’णात्मक जीवन जीउन सहज ह’दोरहेनछ ।
यस्तो अवस्थामा स्वदेश तथा प्रवासमा बसीरहेका समस्त नेपालीहरुलाई नविनतम खवर तथा स्वास्थ्य सम्वन्धि विविध जानकारी दिने हेत’ले हामीले सि.एप्m.एप्m.एन. मार्फत य’वा संचार इन्टर्नेट रेडियो संचालन गरिरहेका छौं । त्यसो त विगतका वर्षहरुजस्तो नभै गत वर्ष देखि सि.एप्m.एप्m.एन. का सवै कार्यक्रमहरु शिक्षा र संचारमा मात्र केन्द्रित छन् । शिक्षा अन्तर्गत द”र शिक्षा र संचार अन्तर्गत, माथि भनिए भैm इन्टर्नेट रेडियोलाई सि.एप्m.एप्m.एन. ले विशेष महत्वका साथ लिएको छ । इन्टर्नेट रेडियो सम्वन्धमा हाम्रा मित्र शालिग्राम अर्यालले सेप्टेम्वर २००९ मा प्रकासित अटवा चौतारीको वर्ष ८ अंक १७ पेज २५ देखि २६ मा लेखिसक्न’ भएकोले यस कार्यक्रम अन्तर्गत हाल प्रस्त’त भइरहेको रेडियो नाटकवारे मात्र म छोटो जानकारी दिन चाहान्छ′ । (Continue reading article…)
Creating Momentum: The Bricks and Mortar for Spreading Ideas
Over the past year, CFFN has radically changed its outlook. Whereas once the organization’s goal was to bring about prosperity, justice, and equality through debates and political means, its focus has narrowed to finding innovative ways of delivering education to the masses. The idea is that a stronger, more educated population can better affect its own environment. This is a much more long-term solution, but it can lead to a country that sustainably changes itself, leading to prosperity, justice, and equality on many fronts.
At the organizational level, CFFN’s challenge is how to take this new mandate and be so successful with it that other organizations, businesses, and even governments examine our methods or ask for advice. How does the message of spreading education reach those who can help do so? How can that message gain enough momentum and reach a critical mass such that the support and resources for CFFN’s initiatives are as wide and diverse as the people they will serve? This is a lesson important for the continued growth and success of CFFN as a whole, and to any other organization looking to flourish and accomplish their goals. (Continue reading article…)
Concern Nepal Year 5, No. 1, Issue 7, May 2010
Articles written by:
Pramod Dhakal, CFFN Executive Director
Tineke Casey, Program Director, Community Child Care Centre
Michael Casey, CFFN Executive Member
Geeta Thapa, CFFN Executive Member
Govinda Dahal, CFFN Deputy Director
Benjamin Wood, CFFN Executive Secretary
Geeta Thapa, CFFN Executive Member
Geeta Thapa, CFFN Executive Member
Benjamin Wood, CFFN Executive Secretary
All Graphics and photos are from CFFN’s library
Contact for further information:
For Open University: Dr Pramod Dhakal, Executive Director
Canada Foundation for Nepal
33 Bellman Dr, Ottawa, ON K2H 8S3