As Jaya Bahadur Shrestha, founder and director at Jhapa Model English School in Damak-8 gained more experience in his profession, he became more certain of the idea that students need more than just text books to develop properly. He stumbled upon the online form for International School Award (ISA) as he was exploring for programs that would help his students. The aims listed under ISA made him feel like it would be appropriate to help his students gain 21st century skills. He sat through the three-day training by ISA and felt like it could help create globally competitive students.
Going by the adage, “If the student hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught,” Shrestha believes in equipping teachers with skills and support. Every week the teachers sit for a meeting to come up with innovative lesson plans. The teachers are asked to start with what they know and further assisted with training sessions. They are also given the liberty to go beyond books.
“We need to strengthen the students’ digital literacy. Out in the real world, they have to work with other global students so collaboration is necessary to give students and teachers a sense of what skills they should be acquiring in the global context,” says Shrestha. Using digital technology, the school has collaborated with schools in Afghanistan, South Korea, Romania, Northern Ireland and Australia. Shrestha adds, “Collaborations bring us out of our little bubbles.”
For the “Child Labour is Inhumane” project, the students gained a local perspective by going to brick factories and social organizations. They researched on why the factories employed the child workers and also shared their own opinions of how it is inhumane and a crime. They further went to social organizations like the Red Cross, Jaycees, Rotary club, and the Municipality office to interview about what they knew of child labourers in the society. They raised questions on why people were unable to stop this phenomenon. The students were able to go out into the real world and interact with people.
They collaborated with Afghanistan and South Korea for the same project to gain a global perspective on the same issue. In Afghanistan, they found that child labour existed because of an unstable government, conflict and poverty. A student shares, “Before ISA, I knew that child labour existed in Nepal but I didn’t know about other countries. After collaborating with South Korea, I found out that child labour doesn’t exist there, but child abuse does.”
For another project, the students understood the elections work by role-playing within their own school. They assigned the roles of different administrative bodies and civil society, some of whom were old or disabled. They elected their school captain, vice-captain, house captains with due process with everyone acting on their part. The candidates even had their own parties and addressed their voters and their concerns. The parents of students came in and shared how their children helped them in real elections.