RBF works closely with Rato Bangala Partnership in Outreach Program (RBPOP), the charitable wing of Rato Bangala School. In the first five years of its operation, RBPOP selected five districts—Dhading, Dailekh, Lalitpur, Makwanpur and Myagdi—in which to partner ten school each. All aspects of teaching and learning in these fifty partner schools improved. Working closely with the Department of Education, this public-private partnership emphasized student-centered learning and the empowerment of all members of a school community. After five years of such wide, and therefore necessarily diffuse, support, RBPOP turned its focus entirely on the remote district of Dailekh, intending to have a more profound, concentrated impact. The Dailekh School Project is a one-of–a-kind project. With support from RBPOP, RBF, and the government of Nepal (the Department of Education, NCED, Dailekh District Development Committee, one municipality and 55 village development committees), the DSP strives to lead efforts in educational development across the district.
DSP seeks to overhaul teaching and learning at a scale that will touch each and every household and thus be a catalyst for socio-economic transformation. It aims to improve community school education in Dailekh so that it is at par with national standards for classroom practice but still contextualized to fit the local conditions.
DSP trains school leaders and teachers, provides backstopping activities, fosters the formation of child clubs, offers supportive supervision, and supplies teaching and learning materials for various subjects. As of April 2014, DSP had intervened in 513 schools and reached more than 2,000 teachers and 75,000 students. In keeping with its philosophy that all stakeholders must be actively involved to transform an education system, RBF ran workshops for school management and other relevant authorities. In 2009, 900 heads of schools and leaders of school management committees of each school in Dailekh came to RBF to reflect on the project and to develop individual five-year school improvement plans. School supervisors, planning officers from Dailekh District Development Committee and Resource Persons from the Dailekh District Education Office also participated in the workshop, as did the coordination committee members of various political parties, Village Development Committee secretaries and executive officers of Narayan Municipality.
A little over halfway into the project, 1,849 teachers in Dailekh have been trained. In addition, selected lead teachers from 350 schools came to Kathmandu to undergo a long-term residential training. The DSP is a unique and ambitious project that has changed the way non-state actors work both in teacher training as well as in collaboration with the government.
The launching of the Dailekh School Project has been followed by continuous meaningful activities. The first half of the project is now over, and the project is moving on in full strength having completed the following activities:
- The first activity was to hire and train a group of 12 Field Officers (FO). Each FO works in his/her own community. They were hired several months in advance in order to be prepared for the project. They form the backbone of the program, supporting and supervising between 30 to 40 schools. They work in close collaboration with the District Education Office, and with the Program Manager of the DSP.
- The second activity was a workshop with school leaders. Over 900 principals and school management committee heads from the partner schools came to Kathmandu for the leadership workshop. The school leader workshop was followed by a workshop for community leaders and district level officials.
- The third activity was the training of master teachers. 34 schools, representing all 12 resource centers in Dailekh selected and sent teachers for this training. After completion of the training, 24 teachers were selected to assist in the three week face-to-face component of the five month (STTPT: short term training for primary teachers) training package given to all the teachers in Dailekh.
- Preparation of training material for the five months training went on simultaneously. The curriculum, lesson plans and the reading materials were prepared and printed. The core training staff of the Foundation worked on this.
- Twelve master trainers were prepared. These master trainers were teachers who had completed the one year training from Rato Bangala Foundation.
- The Field Officers planning for the implementation of the training at the Resource Centers. 12 simultaneous training in three consecutive sessions were planned.
- The training was successfully completed over the winter months of 2010. The participants were teachers from each partner school in Dailekh.
- 20 Graduates from Rato Bangala School trained over 2000 youth. These youth worked in grades I – V in all the primary schools of Dailekh while the teachers were under-going the 3 week face-to-face training.
- Lead teachers were prepared by providing the more intensive 10 month training package. The package consisted of two months face to face training in Kathmandu, an eight month practice period with guided material, and face to face training for a week at the district headquarters to complete the training. 350 Lead Teachers from schools that run classes upto Grade III were selected for this training. These teachers have the responsibility of ensuring quality teaching in the classroom.
- Having completed most of the major activities in terms of providing training, the project is now at a phase when continuous supervision and monitoring is the core.
- Field Officers visit one school every day and ensure that planned activities are being implemented.
- Field officers observe classroom teaching activities as well as the development and maintenance of physical infrastructure as well as supporting child clubs and meetings with parents.
- Village development committee (VDC) members are kept continuously in touch with the school and their continued support is sought. VDC provides financial support to the DSP, and this is a crucial component of the partnership.
- The Program Manager (PM) meets with the Field Officers every month for supportive supervision and for planning for the upcoming month. The PM also meets with officials from the District Education office for joint planning and coordination.
- Implementation of the Friday meetings in individual schools as well as within clusters.
- Data collection by FO's and ongoing analysis.
- Mid-term evaluation by an independent body. 9. Annual review of the project with stakeholders both in the district and in Kathmandu.
- School Leader workshop focusing on lessons learnt over the past three years, and development of further plans to improve the school.
- Field Officers and Resource Persons to be oriented to conduct sessions for teachers who will provide parenting sessions.
- Continue the one day one school program conducted by the Field Officers.
- Provide additional reading and teaching material in selected schools.
- Continuous supervision and supportive monitoring by Program Manager.
- Continuous collaboration with various stake-holders at the district level as well as at the village level as well as at the school level.
- Final evaluation at the end of the project period.
The Dailekh School Project provides Rato Bangala students in the senior grades the opportunity to work in schools in Dailekh. This program is open for students in Grade 11 and 12, and recent graduates. Students still in school serve in late December and January, while the graduates work in February through March. Students who take this opportunity get a rich experience a completely different way of life. Going away from home for an extended period is the first experience. Living in Dailekh is another experience, this is made more interesting by having to share limited living space with many of their peer. Communal living, sharing and caring amongst friends is yet another experience. In addition, these students have to walk considerable distances to and from school every day. They also have a serious job of working with students for several weeks.
The first group of students conducted training for youth preparing them to take classes in the primary grades when the teachers were undergoing the three week training in 2010. Students now focus on teaching in the schools. While their mandate is to work with students in the primary grades, they might also teach older students. We hope that RBS students are able to improve the confidence and self-esteem of the students they work with.
Motivated and disciplined students are encouraged to apply, and a selection panel is at work in order to ensure that the project is successful and meaningful to all. Students are required to make a report and a presentation on their return to Kathmandu.
Four groups of students have gone to Dailekh so far.
- In 2010, 20 Rato Bangala School graduates spent 45 days in Dailekh training over 2000 youth who in turn worked in schools with younger children for three weeks when the teachers were undergoing teacher training.
Rato Bangala Seniors and Graduates in Dailekh:
- In the winter of 2011, Rato Bangala School graduates worked in four different schools in Dailekh. They helped primary school children as well as students in the upper grades preparing for SLC.
- In the winter of 2011, senior students from A Levels worked with four schools and supported teachers in the primary grades by doing various activities.
- 17 graduates from Rato Bangala worked in four schools in February 2013. They spent three weeks at the schools.
- 16 RBS graduates travelled to Dailekh in the winter of 2014 and taught at the community schools there for a month. They conducted quiz competions, and held educational exhibitions. The teachers and students all appreciated the work done by RBS students.