Computers come to rural Nepal: Changes in learning methods
BAGLUNG, Oct 18: Baglung Bazaar’s Ganesh BK, 13, is now used to using a laptop. His fingers have become familiar with the keyboard, now accustomed to the letters spread out.
The class five student, having only heard of a computer before, is happy that he can use one now. His parents, who crush gravel for livlihood, were not the ones who managed a computer for him. Most children from poor families attend Rudre Peepal Secondary School where computers have been integrated in the teaching method. The students’ learning process has undergone change.
A grade six student, Sujan Bhandari says that learning his lessons through a computer has increased his confidence.
“When my friends who go to boarding schools talked about computers, I would just listen,” Bhandari laughs. “Now whenever I encounter problems in my books, I use the laptop to find answers.”
When students of class two to six of Rudre Peepal Secondary School found things they don’t understand in their syllabus, they use their laptops. The laptops have curriculums of Nepali, English, Mathematics and Science subjects in them along with audio visual ‘e-library’ from which the students gain extra knowledge.
For those students who did not have the opportunity of using computers, this is a big relief. Through the Ministry of Education’s ‘Common Education E-Slate’ program, the District Education Office presented 45 laptops due to which the students gained this opportunity to learn. In the competitive market today, providing government school students with computer knowledge has increased their capability.
A teacher helps a student to use the laptop provided by the District Education Office at Rudre Peepal Secondary School in Baglung. According to the Principal of the school, student’s learning process has undergone change after introducing laptops in the classroom.Photo: Dilip Paudel
Principal of the school, Mamata Sharma, says that this has increased the capability of the students.
“Computers were out of reach for students with low financial status,” shares Sharma. “Now they can learn the present-day technology from the primary level. This has helped the plan for integrated education.”
Initially, Barsha Pradhan, a student of the same school, was uncertain about the use of the computer but now she says that she has a lot of fun with it.
“Practice comes when ‘exercise’ is clicked,” she says. “If a mistake is made, then the computer itself informs us that it’s incorrect.” With both Nepali and English languages in the computer, learning has been made easy.
“We can see a plant’s growth in the computer when we’re studying about it,” says an excited Barsha.
Along with the syllabi, there are extra 20 icons like music, library, songs, magic, art, recording and games. Since the computer points out mistakes, it checks whether the additions and subtractions are correct or incorrect, and it also gives scores according to the answers, the students can do it on their own and also work hard and study at the same time.
Students from lower classes recite their lessons along with the computer. Teachers have also taken up computer lessons to make sure that they are up-to-date, too.
“I got the opportunity to learn even though I’ve grown old,” says teacher Laxmi Devi Sharma. “While students have some difficulties in the beginning, they learn things easily now.”
The District Education Office of Baglung informs that through the government’s ‘One Child, One Laptop Campaign,’ they intended to improve the quality of education by providing laptops.
“Laptops increase the facility of learning,” says Under-Secretary Kusmaraj Upadhyay. “There have been changes in the student’s learning pattern.”
Though the laptop just has the syllabus for class two till six, the school has managed to make laptops available for students till class 10. Internet access has also been made available to the students of higher levels in case they want to search for reference materials online.
Parents are also happy that their children now have the opportunity to learn their lessons from computers.
“We can’t afford to buy a computer,” says Tara Devi Sharma who works as a laborer. Now even students from private schools have started coming to the school, says Bhojendra Bahadur Khadka, chairman of the school’s management committee.
There are 350 students in the school, which has now also started teaching in English.