Improving literacy and learning in the early years

Getting a good start in reading and writing makes a huge difference to a child’s future learning.

The Himalayan Trust and our local partner, Action for Nepal, are working with schools in the Everest region of Nepal to improve the way literacy skills are taught and learned in the early years.

Working closely with teachers, parents and the wider community, we are building a successful and sustainable model for improving literacy and learning for boys and girls in early grades.

Reading corners and the right resources

A major change that all the schools involved will need to make is the shift to grade or multi-grade teaching rather than subject teaching for Grades 1 to 3 (ages 5 to 8).

The main advantage of grade teaching is that it allows teachers to be with the same group of students all day and to get to know the individual student’s needs, strengths, and interests. The students themselves are also able to build a strong relationship with their teacher, giving them the opportunity to think, learn and thrive in a safe, supportive environment.

Our education team will provide regular, ongoing advice and coaching at the school for teachers and head teachers to help them implement this change.

We will also provide furniture where needed so that each classroom can have literacy materials on display and an attractive reading corner where the teacher will conduct reading lessons and read daily to the class.

We will be working with teachers to develop appropriate literacy materials and to source the best literacy materials produced in Nepal. The team will also support teachers to make the best use of any available resources, such as a maths kit comprised of pebbles, buttons, and other resources found in the local environment. 

The gift of education

Child-centred teaching

All the teachers involved in the programme will have regular coaching in the classroom on child-centred teaching methods and develop a greater understanding of how to inspire learning in their classrooms. Our aim is for children to have opportunities to engage with their teachers and other children in a challenging and nurturing classroom environment.

Teachers and head teachers will also receive in-school coaching in how to monitor and assess student’s progress as well as their own teaching performance. Collaborative monitoring of teacher performance and student learning by our coaches, teachers, head teachers, students and parents will ensure the whole school and the community are involved in the programme.

Head Teacher Biruman Rai told us what a huge difference child-centred teaching practices had made at his school: “In the past, I found children were frightened of teachers but now, the children want to chat with us. I am so happy to see this change in my school and to see parents and teachers working together for their child’s education.”

Local ownership

The project team is also working closely with the local government, the Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality. Lakpa Thering Sherpa of Action for Nepal, our local partner, tells us: “The local government have designed a policy for our rural municipality based on the core principles of our literacy programme – the teaching of 90-minute literacy sessions. This is a huge achievement because lasting change truly happens when local government takes ownership of providing quality education in our schools.”

The whole school approach

The head teachers at each of the schools have a key role to play in providing positive support and leadership to their teaching staff.

The programme will also engage parents and encourage the support of the wider community in children’s learning. The schools will work with our education team to plan regular parent-teacher events at the school where parents can see examples of the children’s work and discuss their children’s learning and progress. Parents will be encouraged to read with their children at home as well – we know students will make much better progress if parents support them at home.

Window of opportunity

Thanks to our supporters, the Himalayan Trust has been supporting education in the Everest region since Sir Ed built the very first schools in the region in the 1960s.

A good education is the window to new opportunities. With your support, we can help more children access a quality early education and help them get the best possible start in life.

Thank you

Pemba Diki Sherpa is a teacher at Shree Himalaya Basic School in Namche. She said:

“I feel there has been a drastic change. Before we were limited to teaching from the textbook.  But now we teach children from lots of different story books. The children are doing creative writing and drama. They are writing about themselves and their families. The children are really growing in confidence to speak in front of others and to be creative.

“I would like to thank New Zealand from bottom of my heart for supporting the literacy programme and schools in the Everest region.”

Thank you to the New Zealand Aid Programme for their ongoing support for the education programme in Nepal.

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