PHASE education programmes aim to raise levels of literacy and numeracy in remote communities, thereby giving children and adults more opportunities and choices. The focus is on increasing access to education where there is no functioning system, and improving the quality of current education provision.
In 2016 our focus is on:
Alternative classes: These are small satellite schools, where groups of children of all ages are taught a slightly abbreviated curriculum, allowing them to catch up to class 3 of mainstream schools. Alternative classes allow children who have dropped out, or have not been enrolled earlier and are now too old, or for whom the school is too far away, to get a minimal education and carry on to ‘mainstream’ school afterwards. The first set of students graduated from PHASE alternative school in 2010 and a large percentage continued to mainstream school. PHASE accesses and tops up government funding which is allocated for this purpose and the programme involves teacher training, buildings and toilets, parents committees and supplying resources.
Three alternative classes in Sindhupalchok have now been handed over to the government; one in Gorkha is in the process of handover, while one is continuing for at least one more year. This shows the success of PHASE Nepal Education Programmes.
Adult Literacy Classes: Adult literacy rates are very low in our programme areas (as low as 30% for men and 10% for women in some areas), ten to twenty years ago educational opportunities were even rarer than today. Being able to read makes a huge difference to people’s confidence and independence: whether it is reading the instructions on a medicine bottle for their children, the sign on a bus, or a letter from a loved one working away.
Adult literacy classes have been extremely popular with the villagers and in 2015/16 six-month evening courses were running in 11 of PHASE’s project villages, benefiting about four hundred adults, mainly women, per year.
School Infrastructure support: Most schools in PHASE’s working areas were completely destroyed in the earthquakes of April and May 2015. PHASE is involved in rebuilding the infrastructure with support from a number of donors. We also support schools by replacing lost furniture and teaching materials.
In the past, PHASE has supported the upgrade of Jaldevi Secondary School in Hagam to a full secondary school which allows children in this area to take their School Leaving Certificate close to home. By 2016 over 50 students have passed the School Leaving Certificate examination, and the average pass rate has been over 80%, which is excellent for a government school in Nepal (national average is around 50%).
Teacher Training: Since 2011 PHASE has been working closely with NTTI (Nepal Teacher Training Innovations), founded by Ashley Hager. This US based organisation funds and provides technical support to PHASE’s teacher training programme, which is delivered by our highly skilled and motivated teacher trainers. 5 day awareness level trainings introduce school teachers to the concepts of child centred participatory teaching, using techniques like small group teaching, open questions, story telling and project work. Trainings are preceded by classroom observations for needs assessment and are followed up by in post support to teachers to enable them to implement their new skills. They are very highly rated by participating teachers, and post training classroom observations confirm positive changes in teaching methods.
Girls Empowerment: In many of PHASE’s project areas, enrolment rates for girls are lower than boys and many girls drop out when they reach teenage, to help in the household or to be married before they reach the age of 16. In 2013 and 2014, PHASE worked with Her Turn to implement girls’ empowerment courses in remote rural areas of Gorkha. These courses were perceived to be highly effective, increasing confidence and health knowledge of participating girls and reducing school drop out and early marriage. PHASE has now developed its own girls’ empowerment curriculum and is delivering this in our remotest project areas in the Far West of Nepal.
Child Rights Training: As an introduction to the concepts of Right to Health, Right to Education and to combat child marriage, PHASE health staff (with support from education and other staff) conduct child rights orientation workshops in schools, with school management committees and Parents’ associations, and in the communities – often in conjunction with street dramas which raise these issues.