Littered with paper, plastic, and heaps of garbage, the Ranighat stream in Tulsipur, Dang, looked more like a dumping site until the students of Gorkha Secondary School came together and actively participated in a cleaning programme as part of the British Council’s International School Award (ISA) activity. 

140 students of grade eight participated in the activity. The school collaborated with the Government Girls High School, Pakistan and performed various thematic activities together like Skype sessions, activity sharing, questionnaire discussion on issues related to water pollution in their respective country and the solution measures their government adapts to overcome the problem. The two schools met through Pakistan’s ISA Facebook page. The ISA programme requires three collaborative projects with international partners.

“Ranighat and Patu Khola are the two streams that flow in our community. Over the years, Ranighat has become too polluted but none of the community members and local leaders actively came forward to address the issue. Thus, also intending to provide practical knowledge of grade eight science book’s lesson on environment pollution and its impact, we decided to work on this project,” says the ISA coordinator Purna Bahadur Dangi.

Representatives of local government offices including the Mayor were also invited to a formal programme that was organized at the bank of Ranighat after the cleaning concluded. Upon request, the local municipality provided the students with a dumping truck to dispose of the garbage. The school bought the cleaning tools and gloves themselves. The students found that the nearby community was using the stream as a garbage dumping site. They then, discussed the need for an action plan to raise awareness in the community because if the community was not aware and didn’t change their behaviour, their efforts would have been futile. Their attempt inspired the nearby community to keep their surroundings clean. Students leading on local issues inspired the local community to support the initiative. 

The Ward Chairperson, Top Bahadur KC expressed his gratitude towards Gorkha Secondary School for implementing this project and congratulated the students for being role models for the local leaders as well as the local community. 

As part of this project, both schools from Nepal and Pakistan attended a Skype session where students discussed major issues caused by water pollution in their respective countries. They discussed the control measures they used to overcome the issue. The collaboration helped students to broaden their knowledge on water pollution and they realized that even as students they could also make people aware of water pollution and its dangerous impacts. 

The students visited the site again after a month and the stream was found to be cleaner and less polluted.

The British Council’s International School Award (ISA) is a global accreditation scheme that supports and recognizes schools for incorporating an international dimension in their teaching. The accreditation process support schools to develop action plans and deliver lessons according to the plan. The programme encourages partnerships and collaboration between schools – both internationally and locally.  The ISA is a part of the Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning Programme which is co-funded by the British Council and UK aid. This global programme is currently being implemented in 34 countries. Across Nepal, over 60 schools are currently involved in the 2018-19 cycle and over 300 schools will be working on the 2019-20 programme.