Mondo has been working with schools in the Himalayan region of India since 2005. Our support is wide-ranging including funding new buildings, subsidising salaries, training teachers and organising inter-school activities, competitions and sports events.
The small schools where we work are often flimsy constructions built in local wattle and daub, precariously located on hillsides and vulnerable to monsoon mudslides. Others, more solidly built, have been rapidly outgrown by increasing pupil numbers; a positive trend following the success of our education programmes.
Over the years we have helped to add classrooms to some schools and to put up entirely new buildings where needed for others, as well as provide much needed books and science and IT equipment to allow staff to teach subjects efficiently and to national education standards.
The slideshow (left) shows the progress of some of these fantastic schools.
Sharing techniques and tools for teaching and evaluation
Many of the teachers at the small village schools we support are passionate about educating young people in the region, but in many cases they have not received formal teacher training. Brought up with a ‘chalk and talk’ method of teaching, whereby the teacher writes on the board and the children copy into their work books, learning by rote and chanting in unison, few have experience of proactive teaching, asking questions and involving pupils in the learning process.
Mondo supports the development of teachers through our training courses co-designed with Nico Bashford, a UK trained Primary School teacher with wide experience of teaching in India with the British Council. Nico’s initial courses were a great success and have since been run on a regular basis, with follow up visits to schools to observe the teachers putting the new ideas into practice.
Building on the teacher training and follow-up sessions at the schools, Mondo’s Education Improvement Programme is the next step on our ongoing journey with the schools to provide an excellent level of education which is sustainable for future generations of staff and students. See below for more information about the Education Improvement Programme.
Inter-School and Extra-Curricular Activities
Enriching the school experience for students and staff
As the number of schools we support has grown, so too has the opportunity for staff and students to engage in inter-school activities.
The spirit of competitiveness between the schools we support is nowhere more evident than on the sports field. Athletics is something all children can take part in, whether it be an egg and spoon race or a 220 yards sprint. Pupils from each school take part. Competitors wear their school colours and begin the day with a march past and drill demonstration for the various special guests. Then the sports begin with pauses only to enable winners to mount the special podium to receive their medals.
The growth in our programmes means the events now take place separately for the schools closer to Darjeeling as well as for those nearest to Kalimpong.
Another highlight is the general knowledge quiz at which 3 representatives of each of the schools compete fiercely to secure the prize. A recent addition has been a creative writing competition which is divided into age groups so children from all classes can participate.
Some of the schools have also developed varied extra-curricular activities, including Cubs & Brownies, as well as tree planting initiatives.
Programme for the Improvement of Quality Education
Striving for Excellence
This is a new initiative launched by Hirsh Cashdan and Ruth Worswick, both Mondo trustees. Hirsh has extensive experience of the education system and the challenges faced by schools in the regions where we work. Ruth is a UK headteacher who, during the summer of 2016, introduced a simple evaluate-plan- review cycle.
The areas of focus were decided by the headteachers, who identified key aspirations for the Mondo-educated child for when they leave school and from these, what provisions the school needs in place in order to achieve them.
Initial results are positive and we are now extending this system to Nepal in 2017. The school evaluations will help to develop self-sustainability in the leadership of our schools, inform us of what further teacher training is most needed, and improve the quality and effectiveness of our support.
For many years Mondo has provided funding to each school in the form of a subsidy towards the cost of teacher salaries. In that way every child benefits, as the level of fees is reduced which makes the schools more accessible for poorer families and enables the schools to subsidise the very poorest children entirely.
As the schools we support are all based in rural villages, there are few income possibilities other than small scale farming or work on the government quinine plantations neither of which is very lucrative. The schools we support near Darjeeling or Kalimpong towns thus support needy parents whose income is very limited.
By providing such general support to the schools rather than encouraging individual child sponsorship, we avoid the dangers of rewarding those few children who are adept (or whose parents are adept) at persuading individual western visitors to the region to support their education at the expense of more needy children who may be overlooked.