Hamro Pathshala
November 2006

Hamro Pathshala

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Hamro Pathshala (meaning Our School in Nepali) is a distance education of Madanpokhara community multimedia centre (CMC) ideally designed for any 13-14 year old disadvantaged Magar ethnic girl from Palpa district in Nepal. The targeted audience will be currently studying in class 8 and appearing for school leaving certificate (SLC) exam in three years time. The main goal of the initiative is to improve the performance of rural poor and disadvantaged students when they appear in SLC exam in three years time

Madanpokhara community multimedia centre (CMC) in Palpa is an outstanding example of rural based community access in Nepal and South Asia. Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) promotes community empowerment and addresses the digital divide by combining community broadcasting (community radio and TV) by local people in local languages with the Internet and related technologies. The CMC here combines community radio in local language with telecentre facilities. The main goal of the radio station is to contribute to local development by promoting public awareness and dialogues, knowledge sharing, good governance, community participation and local culture and positive entertainment. It is run, managed and controlled by the media committee comprising of various community people engaged in development works.

In August 2005, the CMC launched a new educational programme called “Hamro Pathshala” (Our School) using both radio and new media tools. With majority of young people failing in school leaving exam, the programme aims to improve local students' performance over the next three years. Recently the programme completed its first year of academic session. It has become an effective distance learning tool for students in Palpa in western Nepal who face disturbing and disruptive political situations in Nepal hampering the educational progress. Over 99 episodes of half an hour programme have been broadcast between August 2005 and March 2006.

Why a formal course in non-formal mode?

Hamro Pathshala is ideally designed for any 13-14 year old disadvantaged Magar ethnic girl (Magar is the most predominant ethnic community in Palpa with majority of this ethnic girl child failing in SLC) from Palpa region. The targeted audience will be currently studying in class 8 and appearing for SLC exam in three years time. She has an average intelligence level but cannot afford special tuition classes outside school. Her family is completely dependent on agricultural labour and they cannot afford to send her to private school in Tansen, the district headquarters.

According to local District Education Office (DEO), Palpa district pass percentage in 2005 School Leaving Certificate examination was a dismal 26.43%. In 2004 only 38% of the total 2,16,303 examinees managed to pass. An analysis of the figures shows that students from ethnic, dalit and backward communities predominate among the failures. Compared to other South Asian countries, the SLC failure rate in Nepal is very high, the average of five year results in the Palpa district being as low as 40%.

Although the main reason behind the failure is none other than the education policy and programmes adopted by the government have also played a negative role. The shortage of trained and motivated teachers is another main reason, and the others are understaffed and under funded rural government schools. Limited skilled teachers are available in subjects like Mathematics, Science and English of remote areas in Nepal. All this coincided with the Maoists shutting down private tuitions and schools during the conflict and a ban on using government funds for development work. It was a double whammy for a district that placed a premium on education. As the blockade closed highways, students appearing for SLC had to walk to the district head-quarters every day for their exams. Considering all these challenges Madanpokhara CMC came up with the plan to use media for education to improve the student performance, teaching and learning process.

Programme design

Hamro Pathshala is ideally designed for any 13-14 year old disadvantaged Magar ethnic girl (Magar is the most predominant ethnic community in Palpa with majority of this ethnic girl child failing in SLC) from Palpa region. The targeted audience will be currently studying in class 8 and appearing for SLC exam in three years time. She has an average intelligence level but cannot afford special tuition classes outside school. Her family is completely dependent on agricultural labour and they cannot afford to send her to private school in Tansen, the district headquarters.

Hamro Pathshala is run by local teacher who have volunteered from three local high schools and airs three days a week for 30 minutes. Last year the interactive classroom targeted class 8 rural poor and disadvantaged students in subjects like Mathematics, English and Science. This year the programme will reach to class 8 and 9 students. In the following year, the programme will reach to class 8, 9 and 10 students.

The programme planning is done with teacher volunteers and the production team. Four local teachers participated in the UNESCO supported two phase week long training on educational radio concept development and radio literacy. During the training, teachers were also introduced and trained in the application of computer and Internet in web browsing the educational materials, learning and teaching processes. The programme combines actual teaching with school content covering awareness, general information, teaching and learning experiences.

Programme clock

The programme effectively reaches to over 27 village development committees (VDC) and Tansen Municipality covering over 7 lakh potential audience. According to DEO fifteen thousand students of sixty high schools in the region directly benefits from the programme. Madanpokhara CMC has also extended its network with the establishment of four telecentre facilities in the government run schools. The telecentre facilities in the schools are used for basic computing training, digital content production and accessing the educational programme for students studying in class eight, which will be later followed by class nine and ten. The recorded educational programmes are archived in the form of digital library in each of these telcentres. The students and teachers use the telcentre facilities in listening to previous day's education content and discuss about the programme. It is particularly useful for students and teachers who miss out during the broadcasting time. This education programme has become the part of the school curriculum in these four centres. The telecentre facility also helps the programmer get the immediate feedback<

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