Jugal Rural Municipality school finds way to overcome language barrier
REWATI SAPKOTA Jugle (Sindhupalchowk) March 31 Jammu Sherpa is an office assistant at Tembathan Basic School in Jugal Rural Municipality, Sindhupalchowk, but he also has to teach students as he is the only one in the school who can communicate in local language. “Children enrolled in Grade one do not understand Nepali, so Jammu and students from higher grades facilitate us in teaching them because we cannot communicate in Sherpa language,” Yam Bahadur Shrestha, who recently joined the school as a teacher, told The Himalayan Times. According to Shrestha, there are 60 students in the school, but only half of them attend regular classes in summer (April to August) as they go with their parents in the mountains to herd yak and sheep. “The school sees full presence of students between October and March,” he said. “The village does not have local teachers because no one stays in the village after completing Grade 10 education as they either move to India or Kathmandu.” The only school in Tembathan village with around Sherpa 100 households runs classes till Grade V and there are no other higher education institutions. According to chair of Jugal Rural Municipality Hom Narayan Shrestha, language barrier and ‘seasonal education’ are common problems in mountain villages of Tembathan and Kyangsing. Less number students and lack of enough number of teachers are the major problem in this region, he added. “Things, however, have improved a bit. Although new teachers initially struggle, they gradually understand local culture and behaviors of the local people,” said chair Shrestha, adding, “Earlier, Madhesi teachers used to be appointed and they faced great difficulties in communicating with students.” Lack of specialised teachers, language barrier, locals according low priority to school education, difficult geographical terrain and education budget are other problems in the municipality. Locals have demanded that the education budget be raised by 30 per cent and curriculum that suited the local culture and resource be developed. According to law, 25 per cent local contents can be incorporated in the curriculum. There are 45 schools and 167 teachers in the entire rural municipality. According to Shrestha, the rural municipality has submitted a proposal to the UNESCO, who has shown interest in supporting curriculum development and mobilising specialists. The rural municipality has already appointed a sports teacher to look after all schools. It was prize in Presidential Running Shield Regional tournament. Encouraged, the rural municipality is preparing to appoint a teacher for music and arts too. The rural municipality has appointed 30 new teachers in the past eight months selected through free competition after endorsement of the Education Act and regulation as per constitutional provision. Teaching aspirants are kept on the waiting list and they get the opportunity once the post of teacher becomes vacant in any school in the municipality. According to chair Shrestha, the rural municipality has so far appointed eight teachers out of 29 on the waiting list. Half of the teachers out of total 167 are from the municipality itself. Twenty years ago, villages such as Tembathan, Kyangsing, Gumba, Lidi and Sanchagau did even have a single teacher to run classes for senior citizens. “We have tried to save our education system which was in coma,” said Shrestha, who was the first ever diploma holder in Pangtang. “We have given priority to investment in the education sector.” According to local government rules, female teachers get leave for 100 days each for two childbirths and can be replaced by alternative teachers from the waiting list. Earlier, female teachers got 45-day maternity leave and the post used to remain vacant for the period. “We are planning to prepare our own curriculum,” said Shrestha. Note:A version of this article appears in print on April 01, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.