The British Council’s English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) programme adapted its learning contents into television programme (Meena Video) and self-access learning booklet (Meena booklet) to continue learning for young girls in Dhading, Lamjung, Parsa, and Surkhet districts as a response to the pandemic which heavily affected the learning pattern of the young girls. The materials helped girls to continue their learning on social, life, and English skills development.
A total of 14 episodes were broadcasted on Nepal Television to support the remote learning of girls. The episodes were telecasted over seven weeks between September to October 2020 and exercises were designed to facilitate girls’ social and English learning. 228 girls had watched the video and participated in the learning.
The Booklet included sets of exercises with speaking tasks to improve English and social skills. The girls were later followed-up by Peer Group Leaders to support them with their queries and understanding from the booklet.
Learning shared by girls:
Aakriti BK, Lamjung
A 16-year-old Aakriti and her family are often ostracised from the community because of their low caste status. Since lockdown, Aakriti has been staying at home but most of her days are spent doing household chores and helping her parents to meet their ends.
“Lockdown has been hard on us. It has worsened our financial condition. Instead of going to school, I’m helping my parents with domestic chores all day,” shared Aakriti.
When the British Council launched a TV programme, Aakriti was excited to continue learning but since she doesn’t have a TV set at her home and her neighbours don’t allow her to enter their home because of her caste, she would end up missing all of the episodes. Without any option, she used to complete the assignments based on the guidance received from her master trainer. Later, when the British Council distributed Meena booklets to EDGE girls, Aakriti was the happiest of all. She no more had to depend on a TV to learn. She could read the booklet during her free time and complete exercises on her own.
Aakriti shared, “I’ve learned a lot from the Meena booklet. It has different topics that highlight social issues around us and spread awareness. The topic I liked the most was ‘Health in your hands’. It talks about the importance of handwashing and staying clean which I found very relevant to the present context of the COVID-19. I also found the exercises in the book really helpful to practice and improve my vocabulary and speaking skills at home.”
Grisma Bardewa, Dhading
For Grisma, Meena from the video became an influential character to improve her habits. The character influenced her to be kind, helpful, and attentive to details while working. One of the best episodes from the Meena video that Grisma closely related to herself was about bullying.
She shared, “Watching the bullying episode suddenly reminded me of boys from my class. Boys in my class used to bully girls. They teased us and made fun. I knew bullying is not acceptable and it harms people which is why I immediately complained about it to our teacher and she talked to the boys. Now, the boys in our class are well-mannered.”
Grisma was proud of her little act against bullying and through the video, she understood more why bullying is intolerable. While the video taught her about bullying, the booklet helped Grisma to learn about vegetables and fruits. She shared, “Reading about different greens and fruits helped me to understand the importance of healthy food for our body and the vitamins it supplies. If I hadn’t read and learned about it, I would be still wasting vegetables on my plate.”
Unisha Upreti, Dhading
Unisha found stories from the Meena video and booklet relatable to the experiences of many of us. Her best scene from the video was Dividing the Mango, where a brother gets an extra piece of mango to eat than a sister does.
Talking about the scene, she shared, “I like the mango episode the most because it reflects on discrimination between a son and daughter and talks about discriminatory gender roles. I have seen such discrimination in reality and felt the worst. We must teach our parents and society to discourage such bias.”
Through the video and the booklet, Unisha has not just broadened her understanding of various topics but also developed her reading habits and improved her vocabulary and English skills. Very often, she reads aloud stories from the booklet to her parents.
Anjali Patel, Parsa
Anjali from Parsa used her spare hours as a learning time during the pandemic. The Meena booklet has intrigued her to explore and understand different social issues that exist in our society.
“Meena booklet has a lot of interesting topics. Among them, my favourite topic is ‘Say No to Dowry’. I knew very little about the dowry before but didn’t know if it was a good or bad system,” shared Anjali. “But as I began to read and do exercises in the book, I understood about the practice. I discussed it with my mentor and realised the system needs to be stopped. Such culture must not exist in our society,” she added.
Ever since Anjali understood the dowry system, she has been sharing about it with her family and friends urging them to abandon such practices. She is also keen to learn about other social issues as child marriage and untouchability from her master trainer.
Anita Budha, Surkhet
For Anita, the best part of staying at home during the lockdown was about watching the Meena video and reading the booklet. The learning materials would rescue her from household chores and allow her some time to rest and learn.
Anita shared, “I would use Meena video and booklet as an excuse to take breaks from household works. I enjoyed watching the video. All the episodes were fun, informative, and covered topics related to our everyday life. I think not just the children, but parents should watch the Meena video and learn from it. Through the video and booklet, I have learned about vital issues of our communities, improved my vocabulary, and built the confidence to share my learnings with others.”
“I want to talk about harmful practices of our community and help others to eradicate it,” she added.