When the aftershock struck midway through the training session, I could see uncertain faces sitting around in the room. Located on the second floor, the training hall had a single door for entry and exit and the walls had multiple cracks. Nervous but resolute, the participants decided to continue with the session we were facilitating. The determination shown by the teachers to continue was praiseworthy. However, the 5-hour session, initially planned to be 7 hours long, had not started with the same zeal.
Assuming that the sessions would start at 10:00 AM, we reached the school at 9:30 AM, only to be disappointed with a locked training room. With only a couple of local teachers and no administrative staff from the school, we had to wait for over an hour before the training finally started. Accountability was a serious issue, with the trainees showing up only around 11:30 AM. And it was even more surprising to see familiar faces from the local tea joint (Chiya Pasal) later join in on the session. Such incidents was not limited to just this particular school, as trainers in other schools had similar problems. One training center had a herd of goats locked inside the training hall and had to be cleaned before the session started! Although, I must admit that some of these these incidents can be attributed to the recent earthquake.
My fellow trainer, Ramesh Ghimire and I finally got the session started with the program’s objectives as more teachers were joining in. After the first couple of activities, there was a prominent change in the teacher’s participation. Once a few teacher’s opened up, many others felt comfortable to share their stories. Also, the session had been designed so as to model what the teachers had to do with the students rather than just telling them to do stuff. The training were not just focused on post-quake trauma relief but also to introduce new methodologies for better teaching practices. It prompted a lot of discussions; some were healthy and idea generating. A challenge was to persuade them to plan exit plans for possible emergency situations. Although we had to cut down on the contents for the day, the teachers felt they had extracted value out of the program at the end of the day. We were pleased to see teachers not only sit through the aftershocks but also engage actively till late in the evening even though they had to walk hours to reach home. The teachers who had been indifferent to our presence in the morning showed appreciation for the program and the lesson plans by the evening.
This was the first of the multiple training sessions I facilitated at Dhading over the course of 10 days. The other sessions had similar experiences and has been beneficial for my personal development as well. Nepali hasn’t been my strongest trait and working with a colleague with a better control over the language helped. I have grown more familiar with education practices around the country and can now work further on improving it. The stark difference in the way Karkhana operates and how we facilitated the training sessions pushed each one of us to new boundaries. Collaboration with experienced institutions like Rato Bangla Foundation(RBF), Kaasthamandap Vidhyalaya, Nisarga Batika and other educators provided us with the confidence to take up this program on a massive scale and directed us a step closer towards the impact we hope to achieve in Nepali education.