English speaking students are community school hero
POKHARA, Feb 9: Fourteen years-old Tuphan Thapa studies in Nepali medium school but his skill of speaking and writing English language has made him the most popular student of his school.
The ninth grader boy of a public school named Saraswati Higher Secondary School, Ahale Gorkha much confidently delivers speech, shares experiences in English and leaves all students behind in study which has been possible for him after being enrolled in the English Access Micro scholarship Program (Access Program), implemented by Nepal English Language Teachers Association (NELTA) in support of the US Embassy since 2011.
“I have always been a best performers in all subject except english which left me in a temptation learn the language but there was no one to guide,” Thapa shared his feeling in the recently organized five days camp in Pokhara. He counts his improvements in vocabulary, speaking skills and grammar through the access class he attends three days in a week which is held after school hour. He has also learnt to use multimedia which was far from knowledge before.
The students enrolled in access program generally belong to the lower middle class families and the marginalized communities who can´t afford to the private schools, the organizers claim. The two years curriculum has basically targeted the good students in community schools who are generally weak in English.
The program currently covers four districts Kathmandu, Gorkha, Rupandehi and Parsa which would be extended in Lalitpur and Kailai this year, according the program coordinator Shyam Pandey. Some 200 students were benefitted in the first batch while 160 students enrolled last year.
Another student, Ganga Shrestha, the 15-years-old girl of Nabin Audhyogik Kadar Bahadur Rita Higher Secondary School, Rupandehi says that the last 11 months have been special for her as she has now dared to express her feelings in English.
“What I have learnt from the class is we must not hesitate to speak even if it becomes a jumble words,” she expressed. “I have gained knowledge on leadership skill and understood my role for the society apart from the program which gave me an exposure to American Culture and an opportunity to inform the guest teachers from the US about our cultural values.”
Shrestha, is also considered among the best students in the public school she is studying where around 1000 students are taught in Nepali medium.
Those students who were struggling to score pass marks in English subject are now easily achieving distinction marks after they enrolled in the Access classes, say the organizers.
“When we selected the best students from community schools for access class, they were unable to speak even a sentence in English,” said Shyam Pandey coordinator of the program adding “They would question us back if we asked their own or father´s name.” The students would start saying flowers´ name when asked to tell their full name in initial days, he added.
The statistics available at the Office of the Controller of the Examination shows that the maximum numbers of students fail in Compulsory English in SLC exam followed by Mathematics.
In addition to a 40 hour Leadership Development Winter Camp organized in Pokhara, students also learnt to take care of their personal health, social services and child rights. Similarly, utilizing an innovative technology, story writing student leadership and disaster preparedness techniques, mentioned the program coordinator Pandey.