British Council Nepal initiates Social Action Projects in schools to encourage students to work closely with their community members and local organisations to create awareness about social responsibility and show effective action. This student-led initiative focuses on tackling issues relevant to local communities while helping students develop leadership and team-building skills. This year, Gurukul Academy from Dhangadhi, Kailalai, Nepal with training and funding support from the British Council, planned the 'An Expedition to Tharu Community’s Cultural Anonymity’ as part of their Social Action Project.
The project aimed to make a field-based interactive learning platform between the students and the local Tharu community and make that community realise the importance of their cultural values and their contribution toward cultural heritage preservation. It also aimed at arising a sense of social and cultural responsibility amongst the students.
Under the project, multiple activities were initiated – a research trip to the Tharu homestay, an exploration of the Tharu museum, inside Bardia National Park, workshop on reimagining the designs for wall paintings influenced by Tharu homes with a focus on Krishna Janmastami Art. The students also visited the Mayor’s office to share the research findings and recommend allocating one day in an academic year as a Tharu cultural promotion day and to design a local curriculum that can preserve endangered cultures as a knowledge bank.
At the end of the project, the students and teachers organised a ‘Tharu Culture And Food Fest’ which included an exhibition of Tharu cultural handicrafts prepared by students using low-cost materials. Students prepared Tharu food together with the community members, which was sold to collect funds to support the project. They also organised a ‘Report Dissemination Program’ which was graced by the elected ward presidents, Tharu community leaders, PABSON presidents, where the student council honoured two resource persons from the Tharu community with certificates and gifts.
The project helped students to hone their leadership qualities, enhanced effective communicative skills and used collaborative techniques to connect with local communities and convert it into a learning platform. The students made the disadvantaged community feel represented and heard. They inspired the community to become the voice of the voiceless.
To continue the success of the project, the school plans to allocate a day each year as ‘Tharu Culture Promoting Day’ and continue the mentorship of the culture club which was established as part of the project. The club plans to continue awareness programmes to follow junior students about the importance of keeping their community aware of different hidden ethnic groups. The student council will continue to bring marginalised culture into the mainstream by communicating with local and provincial government bodies on local culture curriculum development and also will initiate similar research-based projects to benefit the students, school and the community.
Evidence showed that student-led social action projects influence teachers to develop many important skills which made a positive impact on learning experiences for the students and teachers together.
“I am born and brought up in a Newar family. I value cultural identity but I had no idea that Tharu culture is such a powerful and unique culture. My role as the SAP coordinator gave me an immense opportunity to experience the treasure of the hidden and less explored Tharu community. SAP activities have planted the zeal in students to explore deeper and bring all the treasure of the community to the mainstream. This project has not only promoted the culture of an indigenous community but also enhanced the self-directed learning, research, leadership and other core skills in students and teachers equally. " Sabina Shahi Swar.
Social Action Project is being rolled out in Waling Municipality as a part of the Quality Education Quality School project. Learn more about the partnership between the municipality and the British Council - https://www.britishcouncil.org.np/quality-education-quality-schools