CFFN Concern Nepal Year 6, Issue 1

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Year 6, No 1, Issue 8 - October 2011

Click here to download this edition as a .pdf file.

Canada Foundation for Nepal has released its eighth issue of Concern Nepal. This issue is prefaced by CFFN’s new Executive Director, who reaffirms the organization’s commitment to several education-specific initiatives, namely Open University of Nepal, Community Child Care Centres. The AGM report discusses the key changes in CFFN’s executives, as well as the addition of new positions within the organization. This issue contains featured articles written by each executive member on a range of matters important to the various CFFN initiatives, as well as research papers discussing development opportunities in Nepal. 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.

In this issue

Preface

Dr. Govinda Dahal, Executive Director
govinda.dahal [at] cffn.ca

Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN) is a not-for-profit organization established in Ottawa, national capital of Canada, which aims to (i) make tangible contributions in education and wellbeing, especially among socio-economically deprived communities covering both native and diaspora populations, with primary concentration on Nepal and Nepalese; (ii) conduct scientific research, transfer synthesized knowledge, develop educational content, and organize and participate in programs on issues related to education and wellbeing.

As mentioned in the 2010 Newsletter, CFFN is continuously supporting the Open University of Nepal Initiative (OUN) and Community Child Care Centre (4C) Project. This year, CFFN has been involved in research with the University of Ottawa as a collaborator in the project, “Ottawa Multicultural Media Initiative” to benefit diaspora Nepali populations and also developing educational content to be accessed globally through electronic media.

To achieve our aims as mentioned above, every year, CFFN plans to publish at least one issue with a collection of short research articles written by CFFN associates. The articles will include views, reports, and reviews in the areas of education and wellbeing. In this issue we have included reports on OUNI, CFFN Annual General Meeting and 4C, as well as some brief articles on distance learning including Open University of Nepal: A Mission to Learning and Innovation, and Diaspora Youth in Academic Bridging Programmes; Research Methods; Community Forestry; and Alternative Fuels.

In addition to continuing our tradition of publishing newsletters, CFFN is considering inviting subject-matter experts to write scientific articles on education and wellbeing, focusing on various aspects of Nepal and the Nepalese. We will also priorities those articles and publish them in the form of specialized issues.

On behalf of CFFN, I would like to thank all authors, Michael Casey for the editorial support, Ben Wood and Prashanta Dhakal for formatting and online publishing. I also thank all CFFN friends for their continued and invaluable supports in the production of this issue.  I also want to stress that all views expressed in the articles of this issue are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of CFFN.

2011 AGM Report

Benjamin Wood, Director, USHA
bwood [at] cffn.ca

Canada Foundation for Nepal held its sixth Annual General Meeting on Friday, July 29, 2011 at the Ottawa Citizen Conference Centre. Members came out to get an update on the organization’s progress over the past year, discuss upcoming projects, and elect a new board. The event was emceed by Executive Member Geeta Thapa.

The annual report was delivered by Executive Director Dr. Pramod Dhakal, who flew back to Ottawa after moving his work on the Open University of Nepal (OUN) Initiative to Kathmandu last January. He spoke of the importance of the role that CFFN continues to play in developing the Open University with the Government of Nepal, the Non-Resident Nepali Association, and Athabasca University. Just before returning to Canada for a three-week stay, it was announced that the OUN Initiative would receive funding as part of the national budget, though the amount was not yet known.

Both Michael and Tineke Casey spoke of the Community Child Care Centre (4C) project and its first centre in Madi, which they will revisit this October. The general assembly discussed the importance of sustainability and possible ways the community could raise the funds needed to keep the centre in operation. This will become a key focus for the Madi Community Centre, now that construction is complete, and to continue as 4C grows in new villages.

In the next year, the content development and exchange initiative, titled USHA for Ushering our Shared Aspirations, will take on more of a focus. The initiative, from which OUNI developed, focuses on grade school-level content. Ben Wood presented the idea of using available distribution channels, like YouTube, to deliver video learning content. Using Khan Academy as inspiration, CFFN will create math tutorials specific to the grade 9 and 10 Nepali curricula. A demonstration of how it can be achieved, developed by Wood and Prashanta Dhakal, was part of the presentation.

At last year’s AGM, it was decided that CFFN would transition into a charitable organization. Pradeep Sharma, who also presented the financial and auditor reports, announced that CFFN has submitted all documents and applications in order to achieve charitable status.

During open discussion, ideas that came up included the future of CFFN Radio, Himalayan Heartbeat, CFFN’s cultural programme, and working with other organizations to send children to school. These are all causes that the organization is ready to either revive or explore if the right leaders are interested in spearheading their development.

As the AGM closed, a new board was elected. New positions were created in order to grow the organization, including Directors of Fundraising, Research, Education and Publications. Pramod Dhakal stepped down as executive director in order to focus on OUN. Govinda Dahal was elected to succeed him in this role. Prashanta Dhakal was elected as deputy director.

The following people were elected into these roles:

  • Dr. Govinda Dahal, Executive Director
  • Prashanta Dhakal, Deputy Director
  • Bishwa Regmi, Executive Secretary
  • Geeta Thapa, Treasurer
  • Drona Rasali, Director, Open University of Nepal Initiative and Education
  • Tineke Casry, Director, Community Child Care Centre (4C)
  • Ben Wood, Director, USHA
  • Dr. Ishara Mahat, Director, Research
  • Ishwar Dhungel, Director, Publications
  • Robin Pudasaini, Director, Fundraising
  • Dr. Bharat Shrestha, Executive Member

Open University of Nepal (OUN) Planning Workshop

Dr. Drona Rasali, Director, Open University of Nepal Initiative
drasali [at] cffn.ca

A day-long Planning Workshop for the Open University of Nepal (OUN) Initiative was organized in Ottawa Citizen Hall in Ottawa on 1st August, 2011 as a part of the fourth national conference of Canadian Nepali Diaspora Organization NRN-Canada. CFFN, a partner organization of the initiative, was the main organiser of the workshop. Participants were representing various OUN committees, incoming and outgoing officers of NRN Canada, Canada Foundation for Nepal (CFFN), academic institutions, researchers and community leaders from Ottawa and other parts of Canada.

The meeting focused on consolidation of the progress made to date and planning for pilot academic programs for a possible launch in 2012.  The workshop was organized jointly by NRN Canada and various committees of the OUN Initiative. Dr. Drona Rasali moderated the entire workshop. At the meeting, Dr. Bhojraj Ghimire, Honourable Ambassador of Nepal to Canada emphasized the need to promote the OUN among all stakeholders as the initiative of Nepali Diaspora, which is now supported by the Government of Nepal.

Dr. Pamela Walsh, Vice-President of the Canada’s Athabasca University reiterated the commitment of the University to support the establishment of the OUN. She informed that the University has now received a seed funding from the Government of Alberta to study a pedagogical model for the OUN.

Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Member-Secretary of the Steering Committee of the initiative, presented updates of the initiative, informing that the Government of Nepal through a decision of its Cabinet of Ministers has now formally authorized the Steering Committee of the initiative to implement the initiative for establishing OUN. “The Government has also begun to allocate funds for the initiative in the budget,” Dr. Dhakal said.

Dr. Mohamed Ally, Professor of Athabasca University and Director of Distance Learning, presented a plan of Athabasca University for supporting OUN initiative. Mr. Andrew Martin, consultant to Athabasca University presented updates on funding grant applications for the OUN and Athabasca University partnership. He stated that the OUN Initiative-and Athabasca University will submit jointly a grant application to CIDA to support the OUN’s programs for the coming several years.

Dr. Ambika Adhikari, Chair of OUN Resource Mobilization Committee presented a preliminary strategic business plan for the OUN estimated at $25 million that should come out from varieties of governmental, bilateral, multi-lateral, non-governmental and Nepali Diaspora sources. He gave an update on the current fund raising efforts, stating that USD $135,000 has been pledged by the Nepali Diaspora, out of which some $8,000 has already been collected and deposited in the NRNA OUN account in Kathmandu. Dr. Adhikari also proposed to contact various international financing institutions for possible technical assistance and funding support.

Dr. Drona Rasali, Chair of OUN Academic Development Committee presented specific needs of target group beneficiaries for higher education and various academic program scenarios for the OUN. As a part of the NRN conference, Dr. Rasali also released a promotional song for OUN that he produced in collaboration with Nepali popular singer Yash Kumar.

Dr. Mahabir Pun, Chair of the OUN IT Infrastructure Development Committee, presented a feasibility plan for a wireless Internet network for OUN. He provided the details of the status of the connection of broadband in some remote parts of Nepal, and where the OUN pilot program could be launched in 2012. Dr. Pun also provided a detailed budget for connecting selected areas with Internet connectivity.

Dr. Raju Adhikari, Chair of OUN Research and Innovation Committee jointly with Dr. Benu Adhikari presented from Australia a plan for student enrolments and management. Likewise, Dr. Shiva Gautam, a Nepali Professor from Harvard University provided management inputs for pilot programs of the OUN. Dr. Gokul Bhandari from University of Windsor and Dr. Ishara Mahat from the University of Ottawa provided inputs to students’ assessment plan and tutoring plan, respectively for the pilot programs. Saubhgya Khadka proposed a module of post-graduate curriculum for OUN pilot program.

Ms. Radha Basnyat, NRNA-ICC member from Canada appreciated the efforts by the OUNI workshop organizers, and offered her help and support for the project. NRN-Canada’s outgoing President Mr. Nabaraj Gurung and new president Dr. Binod KC as well as Dr. Govinda Dahal of Canada Foundation for Nepal, Chitra Pradhan (Vice President of NRN Canada) and several other participants of the workshop offered their support for the initiative and provided valuable insights and inputs to the OUN planning. Former Canada Member of Parliament Mr. David Kilgour, who is also an OUN Initiative Steering Committee member, emphasized the need for the Government of Nepal to invest and commit substantially upfront to this initiative for attracting donors’ commitment.

Other attendees of the meeting included Dr. Kalidas Subedi, Dr. Hari Deuja, Dr. Bharat Shrestha, Krishna Homagain, Radha Basnyat, Dr. Neeru Shrestha, Tara Upreti, Maiya Uprety (online from Winnipeg) and Dr. Judy McDonald (from the University of Ottawa). Other CFFN members who attended the workshop were Michael Casey, Tineke Casey, Prashanta Dhakal, Ben Wood, Dr. Bishwa Regmi, Anita Castrence, Robin Pudasaini and Geeta Thapa.

Helping Establish a Community Child Care Centre in Rural Nepal: Project 4C Update

Tineke and Michael Casey, Director, Community Child Care Centre (4C)
tineke [at] cffn.ca

As previously reported our 4C Project concentrates on education in rural Nepal at the youngest ages. Our goal with this project is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend school at the appropriate age. Currently older children are often drafted into child care for their younger siblings as both parents are away working all day. Children whose first arrival at school has been delayed, since they were required to stay home to attend to their younger siblings, have a very high dropout rate. If we can solve the child care issue at the village level then all children should be able to attend at their proper age.


A young child caring for an even younger child

For the past year we have run a Community Child Care Centre Pilot Project in the village of Sarkuwa in the Baglung district of Western Nepal. We met with the villagers and explained our concept of a joint development. The villagers rose to the challenge and we agreed to support their effort in establishing a community-based child care centre. A local Board of Directors was established to help establish and run the centre. (Continue reading article…)

USHA:  Diaspora Youth in Academic Bridging Programmes

Benjamin Wood, Director, USHA
Email: bwood@cffn.ca

Salman Khan did something amazing. What started as a simple idea to help tutor family members has turned into a large, non-profit organization. Around the time that CFFN was starting, so was the Khan Academy, an educational foundation driven to create a “free, virtual school where anyone can learn anything.”

In the past five years, Khan Academy has created and distributed 2,500 10-minute videos of pre-university topics that are presented in a simple way that’s like having a personal tutor or teacher right beside you. The videos are presented like a virtual chalkboard designed to be the simplest, easiest way for someone to follow along, focusing on problems and the methods to solve them. While math was the original focus, Khan Academy has branched off to include physics, chemistry, computer science, critical thinking, history and finance. Ultimately, the organization wishes to have videos on all scholastic topics.

Khan Academy’s results so far have been staggering. The videos have received over 67 million views on YouTube. Salman Khan and the Academy have received numerous awards, been featured on television, in print, at TED… Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are fully behind Khan Academy, and Google is pouring millions of dollars to help translate the videos into some of the world’s most common languages. (Continue reading article…)

Video Lessons for Nepali Math Curricula

Prashanta Dhakal, Deputy Director
Email: prashanta@cffn.ca

Distance education is an effective way of teaching in this modern era. Video lessons for high school will be CFFN’s pilot program to help Nepali students in both urban and rural areas.  To this end, I found Khan Academy Video Lessons as the most effective way of educating people through distance education. I appreciate and admire Khan Academy’s bold initiative in online tutorials. As mentioned in the previous article, Khan Academy is a collection of online tutorials, in various fields of math and other subjects, that has demonstrated itself to be an excellent format for lesson delivery. Each video focuses on one particular concept and can be viewed in isolation from other videos. CFFN is proposing to make similar videos that are tied to the Nepali curriculum. Not only are the videos useful in isolation, they are also treated as a piece of the bigger puzzle.

For someone versed in some level of basic math, it doesn’t take long to spot slight errors in many of the textbooks used in Nepal. For example, in a Grade 10 math book I glanced through, there was a subtle mistake in the third sentence of the first chapter itself. The following was written regarding cardinality of sets: “The number of distinct elements in a set A is called cardinal number of the set.” Here, the subtlety of the language could really mislead the student. The wording suggests that a set could be composed of non-distinct elements, and that the number of distinct elements is the cardinal number of the set. It would be a grave mistake if a student understood that sets could contain non-distinct elements.

Errors like the one above make it difficult for a student to learn the math properly. I believe it is much easier to teach for the first time than to re-teach to overcome disinformation. In part due to the confusion that inexact wording and nuances bring to students, they are forced to memorize the material rather than to understand; furthermore, future learning is impeded by the build-up of subtle inaccuracies in their understanding. (Continue reading article…)

Open University of Nepal: A Mission to Learning and Innovation

Dr. Pramod Dhakal, Member-Secretary, Open University of Nepal Initiative
pdhakal [at] cffn.ca

Before the exploit of modern humans touched my mountain village, we walked barefoot on its trails, forests, and terraces, even to go to Baglung Bazaar for writing School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examination. I felt sophisticated in buying my first toothbrush while taking tuition classes in Painyupata for SLC. Radio and/or wristwatch were off-access even when studying at elite Tri-Chandra College in Kathmandu. It was a matter of status when my brother bought a radio after becoming a clerk of our village school. But no one today walks barefoot in my village, no one wears the worn-out clothes like we did, no one walks for days to go anywhere useful, and almost everyone today carries a mobile phone. Today, our village home has electricity, television, toilet, and tap drinking water. These amenities are coming near the reach of other villagers and young folks know more about technology than my brother, a school principal. The coming of the information age and globalization is changing the face of my village. However, this globalization of new era has pushed us towards greater dependency and vulnerability. Unable to find their means of survival in the country, village youths are taking menial temporary jobs in Middle East and elsewhere. Local production is diminishing and goods are imported, including food stuff. If someone were to block the supply (e.g. fuel) for ten days, most people of urban cities in Nepal would not be able to eat and there would be massive riots turning upside down. Perilous is this magical modern world for a small and poor country like Nepal that is still struggling to develop its capacity to ensure even basic survival of its people in case something unwanted happens. Should not it necessitate us to seek new ways for our survival?

Ways may be abound for the seers but the most readily achievable ordinary opportunities of extraordinary significance at present exist amidst an upheaval brought by science, technology, telecommunication, and the Internet. They have created a medium where information spreads swiftly like virus. If that potential were to be used to propel the entire Nepal into learning and innovation, our children could be competing with the world before we are dead. Some people familiar with the power of Internet often mistake it for Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge. Our awaiting for the Internet, which is governed by the Market-God, to grant us miracles may however be rather wishful. (Continue reading article…)

Congratulations to Manju Adhikari

...recipient of the Canada Foundation for Nepal 2010 Youth Volunteer of the Year Award!

Conducting Research: Rhetoric vs. Reality

Dr. Ishara Mahat, Director Research
imahat [at] cffn.ca

“Research is about asking right questions than finding the right answers”

When thinking about research, we often struggle with identifying the real issues and asking the right questions. More often than not, our research is inspired by the availability of research funds that widens or limits the scope of our research.  But we care less about the grounded issues that are most required to be explored, which can prove highly significant to the mass. In many cases, the research activities are undertaken at a superficial level that fulfills academic and professional needs; for instance, to accomplish a degree or to perform the tasks available for a research project that is funded by different funding agencies. Unfortunately, doing research without a profound attachment on the issues often goes astray because such action hardly goes into the depth of the reality, nor do they fulfill the basic purpose of doing research or have any development/policy implications. The outcomes of such research become by-products merely for the sake of doing research, which, in my view is nothing more than wasted potential. Nevertheless, it is easier said than done; we as researchers should not hesitate to focus on the “purpose” of doing research than an “accomplishment”. (Continue reading article…)

Dynamism of Forest Commons: Learning from Nepal’s Community Forestry

Dr. Bishwa Regmi, Executive Secretary
bregmi [at] cffn.ca

The commons1 refer to resources that are collectively owned or shared between or among populations. These resources are said to be “held in common” and can include everything from natural resources to knowledge to software.

Forests have been and continued to be the foundation for human survival, livelihood and prosperity. Forests cover2 31% of the world’s total land area. As forest can generate large number of products and services, forest users’ interests often contradict, become diverse and competing. The question of who owns the forest, who claims them, who has access and control to the forests have been hotly debated in many forest regions of the world. These are often the main concerns of indigenous/local people who are directly dependent on forest resources. In this context, the aim of this paper is to review contemporary studies about forest commons in particular to Nepal’s Community Forestry.

The common property resources continue to decline3 in size and productivity due to the trend of privatization and commoditization. In the past, in many continents, it was believed that indigenous management of the commons was based on exploitation by all and maintenance by no one. Garrett Hardin4 named this as “tragedy of the commons” where commons as open access systems have no rules to manage resource use, gives opportunity to anyone to exploit the resource as per their wish and that leads to resource degradation and depletion. In contrast to Hardin’s notion of commons, Elinor Ostrom, Nobel winner, articulated for the need of social control mechanisms5 for successful governance of the common forests. Ostrom6, suggested− clear group boundaries, local needs and condition specific governing rules, participation of those affected by the rules, recognition from the authorities, effective community monitoring system, graduated sanctions for the rule violators, transparent conflict resolution process in place, and building an interconnected responsibility− for effective governance of common resources. (Continue reading article…)

Production possibility of Biofuel in Nepal

Dr. Bharat Shrestha, Research associate
Email: bmshrestha@cffn.ca

     

Rapeseed

Jatropha

Algae

Alternative sources of petroleum fuel have always been discussed because of petroleum fuel’s ever increasing price, its non-renewable nature and negative effect on the global climate. Several sources of alternative energy are identified and are in use, such as solar energy, wind energy, hydropower, geothermal energy, biogas energy etc. Global climate change is forcing society to find environmentally friendly energy such that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions can be reduced. Biofuel is considered as one of the environmentally friendly source of energies because of its recyclable nature. Some sources of biofuels are shown in the picture above.

Biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon (C) fixation. Biofuels include fuels derived from biomass conversion, as well as solid biomass, liquid fuels and various biogases1. This is an alternative to petroleum fuels with less CO2 emission to the atmosphere. The logic behind considering it as an environmentally friendly energy is that biologically fixed C (carbon) will be converted into biofuel and the emitted CO2 from burning of this fuel will be captured again by plants through photosynthesis. In this way it will not add more CO2 into the atmosphere like the burning of fossil fuel. Thus, it has been considered as an option to mitigate the effect of global warming.

There are mainly two types of biofuels – bioethanol and biodiesel. Bioethanol (also called Ethanol) is made from carbohydrates produced in sugar or starch from crops such as wheat, corn, sugarcane, sugar beet etc. Cellulosic biomass, derived from non-food sources such as trees and grasses, is also being used as a feedstock for ethanol production (Table 1). Biodiesel is made from vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled greases. Bioethanol is more common in Brazil and Northern America while biodiesel is more common in Europe. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, and typically produces about 60% less net-lifecycle CO2 emissions2.

Most of the feed stocks for biofuel can be produced locally in most of the countries of the world, thus it will reduce one country’s dependence on another country for fuel supply.  Biodiesel is made through a chemical process called transesterification whereby the glycerine is separated from the fat or vegetable oil. The process leaves behind two products, namely 1) methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and 2) glycerin (a valuable by-product usually sold to be used in soaps and other products in cosmetic industries). Thus the production of biodiesel does not only produce biofuel but it also produces raw material to the cosmetic industries. (Continue reading article…)

Concern Nepal Year 6, No. 1, Issue 8, October 2011

Articles written by:

Govinda Dahal, CFFN Executive Director
Benjamin Wood, Managing Director, USHA
Drona Rasali, Managing Director, Open University of Nepal Initiative
Tineke Casey, Managing Director, Community Child Care Centre
Michael Casey, Associate Director, Community Child Care Centre
Prashanta Dhakal, CFFN Deputy Director
Pramod Dhakal, CFFN Advisor, Member-Secretary Open University of Nepal Steering Committee
Ishara Mahat, Managing Director, Research
Bishwa Regmi, CFFN Executive Secretary
Bharat Shrestha, CFFN Executive Member, Senior Research Associate

Editors:
Michael Casey, Tineke Casey, Prashanta Dhakal

Layout:
Benjamin Wood, Prashanta Dhakal

All Graphics and photos are from CFFN’s library

Contact for further information:

Canada Foundation for Nepal
113 Keltie PVT
Ottawa, ON K2J 0A1
Canada

Phone: +1-613-317-1466
Email: info@cffn.ca

Web: www.cffn.ca

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