Updated: Jul 25, 2019
The questions arise: Who will teach at the schools? Are we creating long term dependencies?
Tikapur has colleges and some well educated people who have attended good schools in India and Nepal. It is not the kind of place that would normally attract people from Kathmandu to come and teach. International grants are flowing to the government to increase teacher salaries, but the teachers are of varying quality.
Among the young people we work with, there is a growing number of motivated people who can teach what they know, which is what they were taught in schools. Salaries in our schools are low.
There are two needs: To equip our teachers with experiences and learning that they can then pass on, and to support them with supplies for an extended period of time, until the students graduating from our schools are better educated and can fill the ranks of future teaching staff. This will take about ten years. During that time, we expect that community incomes will rise, and the families of the students will be able to pay more for their education. The impact of the volunteers who have visited the schools and taught for a few days at a time in the last two years has been considerable.
A newly built guest house will be completed by January 2011. The guest house is meant to provide some basic comforts for volunteers who may be able to visit for at least three months at a time to provide some depth to teachers and students. The two guest rooms will have clean water, clean bathrooms and toilets, screened doors and windows, comfortable beds, and a shared kitchen and living room. Students from several US and Indian colleges have expressed an interest in extended stints in Tikapur.
Grace School, started in 2008, now has 135 students from Kindergarten to Grade 4 and will add Grade 5 in 2011. The teachers are motivated and have developed a strong attitude of excellence in the school. Fares from the zip line across the Patriya River, a mile away, provide a large part of the funds to run the school.
The new PremNagar School will have eight classrooms and take children to Grade 10. This school is only 2 miles from the guest house on a newly paved road, so it will be convenient for volunteers to teach here. The new school will be completely private. The first four classrooms of the new school are planned to be ready for January 2011. About 150 children attended the PremNagar school, but some have drifted away in recent years as the facility got overcrowded.
In August and October 2009, massive floods struck the Tikapur area. Just south, a border town called Simrahine was seriously damaged. Houses and the school were destroyed. Many from that town now live on government land near Tikapur. To serve the kids there, we started a school under tents and tarpaulins. A mud building was then built and donors contributed to purchase a tin roof for the new school building. This school with 100 children is called Karnaleshwar, after the river Karnali which washed away much of their town.
A fourth school has been started in a village called ShivaNagar. A group of 400 families of former slaves settled on government land in Tikapur. Because they do not own title to the land, they have not been able to get any kind of aid for schools or public works. The community is well organized and ready to pitch in when there is a common need, and they rallied to build a mud building for their 110 children. They now have a metal roof for the school, and the community provided three teachers.
West of Dhangarhi is the village of Kichahi, home to 400 former slave families. In June 2010, we finally succeeded in bringing drinking water to this village. Now the children (primarily the girls) no longer have to walk for hours to bring water home. A family has donated land, and we will build a school. This project will be started in October 2010.
Apart from the private school, none of the schools will be self funding for a long time. Grace School will perhaps be the first to pay its way, with the revenue from the zip line, parents of students slowly increasing their income, and tuition being increased on children from wealthier families.