“Connecting Classrooms is a resource where the progressive pedagogies are explored nationally and internationally to ensure learning and development of core skills in students within the curriculum.”
Sunita Swar Suri, Principal of Gurukul Academy in Dhangadi believes that Connecting Classrooms’ collaboration with the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Centre has been instrumental for the relative ease with which teachers seem to accept the program. The teachers have been trained to integrate ongoing curriculum with project-based learning and Information and Communication Technology (ICT). They were able to design projects effectively to facilitate and complement the courses, rather than view projects, ICT and curriculum as discrete, burdensome entities brought together.
The shift to using ICT has benefited the students and teachers equally. Previously, the teachers didn’t even have email addresses. They weren’t comfortable using online communication platforms. After International School Award (ISA) was introduced in 2012, at least four teachers had to earn Global Education certificate online. It pushed the teachers in their professional development. Now all students and teachers are digitally literate. The students learn through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), exchange projects via email and know more about internet safety, cybercrime and digital footprint. They sat through live classes with students in Aga Khan Academy and learnt about media ethics and parents’ consent for minors before taking their picture.
ISA has helped her school to learn to assess students and their own progress in the global context. After connecting with the British Council, they realized that learning shouldn’t be limited to classrooms. Contradictory to popular practice of assigning set units of subjects like science and social studies for projects, the school integrated project-based learning for all subjects.
For math, they did an internationally collaborative project called “how do you ride to your school”. Grade five and six collected data on the number of students traveling to school in different ways and distance they travelled. They exchanged the data with Linthicum Elementary School in the USA. The project prompted the American students to collect $600 when they noticed the distance some Nepali students had to walk to get to school. The school bought 40 cycles, 20 for their own students and 20 for a neighboring school. The project gave the students a global perspective on the means of transport and difference in lifestyles, in addition to teaching them mathematics.
Anushka Shahi of grade 8 says, her favorite project was ‘Smile Everyday’, where she learnt about menstruation. She says, “I didn’t know anything about menstruation before, but I learnt that it is a natural process and we shouldn’t discriminate against menstruating women and girls. I learnt how to take care of myself and keep myself clean. The school provided sanitary kits and beds to rest to girls of other schools as well.”
The projects using ICT have lasting impressions on students and makes them more socially and globally aware. It has shifted the focus from end results to processes and learning outcomes of students. Without ISA, Suri believes, they would have settled for too less.