|projects & activities
Teacher Training Workshop Hosted by Beacon Education, United Arab Emirates, in Bandipur April 2007
Improving the skills of all primary and middle school teachers in Bandipur and surrounding villages is essential if children are to complete their education. In April 2007 seventeen teachers from Beacon Education in Dubai carried out a very successful teacher training workshop for 140 educators from 24 schools in Bandipur and surrounding villages. In addition, six teachers from UNHCR-administered camps for Bhutanese refugees in Eastern Nepal participated in the training.
Objectives of the workshop were as follows:
Subjects taught at the workshop were mathematics, science, music and drama, physical education, art and creative writing. The emphasis in all sessions was on creativity and innovation, and attempting to instil in all children a love of learning for its own sake. Rote learning techniques, involving mind numbing memorization and repetition, were banned from all workshop sessions. In addition, a highly motivated Beacon Education IT expert dedicated himself to ridding all computers at the Notre Dame campus of viruses, installing the latest anti-virus software, and instructing faculty on simple measures that would reduce the changes of the computers being re infected.
Feedback from participating teachers was universally positive. Ms. Anju Pradhan of Bandipur stated that “I liked the idea of teaching students with drama, music and games a great deal. I have learned several interesting things in this workshop, including the importance of making leaning fun for the children.”
Mr. Chandra Lama of Tanahun District reported that “This workshop has provided me with the excellent ideas and knowledge. I learned different ideas for teaching different subjects as well as the use of inexpensive local resources. Please bring us many new teaching ideas in the future!”
Mr. R.K. Karki of Jhapa in Eastern Nepal wrote “I am planning to hold a day program to share with my fellow teachers from the Bhutanese camps everything that I have learned here in the workshop. For instance, I learned how to tell stories in elementary classes, how to motivate the children, and how to structure the classes to make the best use of our time.”
The faculty from Beacon Education were both inspired and humbled by their time in Bandipur. Wendy McLaughlin of the American Academy for Girls in Dubai wrote a report of her experience in Nepal, emphasizing the contrast between the abundance of resources available to teachers in the United Arab Emirates, and the spartan conditions in the village schools in Nepal:
“Two days prior to the commencement of the workshop, the Beacon teachers visited a number of schools in the town of Bandipur and surrounding areas. Having grown accustomed to the posh, well-resourced environment of the four schools they hail from, the experience of viewing the state of the schools in Nepal could only be described as shocking. In classrooms where space and lighting are limited at best and resources such as blackboard chalk are considered a privilege rather than a readily available teaching tool, the Beacon teachers were quickly made aware of the enormity of the task that lay ahead of them.”
In her report Ms. McLauglin noted the extraordinary commitment and motivation of ten teachers from the Bhutanese refugee camps in Eastern Nepal:
“While the participation in a teacher training workshop during vacation from students and school is a true display of dedication to the profession for any teacher, undoubtedly the most distinguishable participants were the ten Bhutanese refugee teachers who were selected to attend out of nearly 300 applicants. Categorized as illegal immigrants in their home country of Bhutan in 1990, this group of teachers was a part of the mass exodus that sought refuge in their neighbour to the west, Nepal. The teachers work in schools where students are not provided with books until grade three and desks until grade seven. The Bhutanese refugees embarked on a 14-hour bus ride from Eastern Nepal to Bandipur in the hopes that they would be provided with a number of innovative yet applicable techniques to be subsequently shared with the hundreds of teachers back in the refugee camps.”
In her report Ms. McClaughlin commented on the need to move beyond rote learning as the primary method of teaching young children:
“Considering the unique structure of the workshop and the novelty of the teaching techniques introduced, the Nepalese teachers and students alike made a concerted effort to approach the 2-day workshop with a display of open mindedness. Hailing from an educational system where rote learning is considered the norm and corporal punishment is often employed as a standard method of discipline, these teachers were actively engaged in the lessons presented and appeared to capitalize on their instruction while simultaneously enjoying themselves. “It was exciting to see the students so involved with drawing, cutting and painting,” said Wendy Harris, one of the three Beacon art teachers at the workshop, “They attacked the tasks as if it was their first time – as undoubtedly it was. I hope the experience remains with them and the teachers are inspired to include art in their curriculum.”
Given the extremely structured, limited-resourced educational environment they stem from, the student participants demonstrated an impressive dedication to the workshop and a willingness to engage in teaching practices completely foreign to them. As Angela Arneson from the American Academy for Girls reported, “Although it was abundantly apparent that the students were in need, their hearts were big, and they had an eagerness to learn.” Rosemary Warhurst, a music teacher from Dubai British School, discovered quickly how universal the language of music truly is: “I found the Nepalese to be such a musical culture who really enjoyed expressing themselves with their own folk music but were also eager to learn new folk music and children’s games from around the world.”
Beacon Education of the United Arab Emirates has agreed to provide guidance for future teacher training sessions in Bandipur.