Mount Valley English School in Mathagadhi, Palpa was a recipient of International School Award (ISA) in 2016-2017. They were inspired by the progress of a previous recipient, St. Capitano School and have gone on to inspire and work with other schools.
The ISA coordinator at the school, Ashesh Bhattarai says how the program has helped students compare and contrast the different happenings in their own country and around the world, thus helping them develop a fair sense of respect. For an international collaborative project called ‘Let's beautify our surrounding’, they learnt to decorate their surrounding with Dunranta flowers from students of Govt. Girl’s Higher School in Pakistan. In turn, they related beauty with cleanliness and taught the students of the partner school to make dustbins out of old water drums. They beautified their school and also collaborated with the local government ward committee to clean their community.
For a whole school project called ‘Dignity to our livelihood’, the students had an opportunity to rethink and relearn what it means to be a farmer. The students came back from their research field visits with a better appreciation of the hard work that goes into putting food on their plate. They started a kitchen garden in the school to grow potatoes. They made profits out of selling school grown potatoes and bought agricultural tools to continue farming at school.
The innovative project-based learning methodology introduced as a part of ISA has been instrumental in getting students motivated. Ganesh Darlami, a student who was a frequent absentee in the classroom was neither interested in studies nor in household activities. The projects at school gradually garnered his interest. With his newly acquired life skills, he now helps at home too. The school got a grant from the British Council after they successfully completed the Social Action Project, which supported him for trainings in Kathmandu. Darlami later scored the top position in the rural municipality and won many awards. Although parents used to initially ask teachers to go back to the traditional methods, keeping in mind the students’ exam performance, marks have become secondary compared to their learning and skills development.
ISA Coordinator Bhattarai views ISA as a journey to provide the school with standardization and benchmarks. As the country’s education policy is advocating for creating local curriculum, to hold space for its diversity, the program has given the school capacity to create a local curriculum book called ‘Hamro Mathigadi’ (Our Mathigadi). The book became a part of the curriculum in 45 other schools in the rural municipality. The school now works with the British Council and the local government to help 10 other schools in the rural municipality to apply innovative pedagogy in their teaching practice.