Friday, February 06, 2015

Dumre

This week I have visited Jandeep School in Dumre. This school goes from Nursery class up to year 9, and I managed to spend at least one lesson with every class. 

Putting the days of the week in order
The younger primary school children really loved having the chance to make some noise and be active in lessons. At many of the schools I visit the children start very shy, but here the children couldn't wait to start playing some learning games! We played a lot of racing games, with some coloured card on the floor and two children racing to the colour I shouted out. At the end of the lesson the children didn't want to let me leave until they'd all had another go! It is certainly a far more effective technique for teaching colour that the rote learning they usually get. In kindergarten I started showing some colours and was delighted when the children started to sing them all with spellings; "B-L-U-E blue, R-E-D, red.... etc", but when I asked them to match the word to the colour on the board not one of them was able to do it. Take note the effect of too many exams (4 per year!) and too much rote learning Ms Morgan!! 

Colouring fun
I made some more animal leaflets for Dumre's twin school with year 5. Once again they loved having the chance to do some creative drawing and use colour pencils and pens. It was hard to restrict them to drawing animals though, they all loved drawing flowers (it turns out this is something they were remarkably good at). So many of the leaflets heading back to the UK are decorated with roses, marigolds and all sorts of other flowers in addition to some local animals. 

I'm on fire! 
While in Jandeep I had the chance to observe some trainee teachers on teaching practice. I'm sorry to say that the standard was quite worrying and the poor training here is clearly a major factor in the general poor quality of schools. Two young trainees teaching a maths lesson spent the entire 40 minutes writing the calculations on the board for the children to copy, but they also gave them the answers, so the children did no work for themselves! There was no modelling or explanation, in English or Nepali and the entire lesson was wasted. As if that wasn't enough, the calculations on the board were covered in mistakes, so any children who were managing to pick up something would have also learnt these errors. I decided to do the same lesson the next day as I would teach it, to show the teachers some different ideas. While they both agreed to this, neither of them were in school the following day. I re-did the lesson regardless as the children certainly needed it (and in teaching it again I could see they certainly hadn't learnt anything the previous day!). The government in Nepal desperately needs to address the poor quality of training and the curriculum. Fighting against these combined forces is certainly not making the task of Manisha UK any easier! 
Playing in nursery 

Working with the secondary school classes I was generally impressed with their reading and writing skills. However, the speaking and listening skills were desperately poor. Again, the Nepali curriculum bears much of the blame for this, as the text books are geared this way. Dumre school is fortunate to have a couple of teachers with exceptionally good English but the pupils need to hear this much more often and have the chance to speak (and chanting / repeating is not the same as speaking) themselves. 

Despite the concerns I had a wonderful few days at the school and was sorry to leave. As always I was well looked after by all the students and staff and I am sad that I won't have the chance to see most of them again during this years training program. This weekend brings a long bus journey to Kathmandu to collect some documents from the British Embassy, 8 hours each way for a piece of paper is quite frustrating!  

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