KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Ram Rijal has many interesting ideas. Currently in the offing are the Nationwide Math Olympiad and Bloom Nepal School. A Mathematics graduate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, Rijal is now working with the World Bank as a Junior Professional Associate. For the 25-year-old, returning to Nepal was always the plan and says that the ideas generated when he was still a student.
The Nationwide Math Olympiad is scheduled to take place on February 23, 2013 and will be held in Kathmandu, Biratnagar, Pokhara, Butwal, Surkhet, Bharatpur and Dang. The competition will test the Math skills and abilities of students from class 11 and 12 where in the students will be solving six questions in three hours. The questions for the Math Olympiad were set by MIT graduates. Rijal says, “The questions will be very hard, but we want the participants to try their best and even if they manage to answer one question correctly, it’s great.” More than 700 participants have been registered for the competition, and considering its novelty, he is happy with the turnout.
The ultimate goal of the Nationwide Math Olympiad is to give a platform to the students and be the innovator by sending participants to the International Math Olympiad. Nepal doesn’t fare too badly in the international Math scene, believes Rijal and this competition is aimed at bringing out dormant talents and providing them direction and opportunities.
While the top three from the competition will be taking home a cash prize of Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000, the rest of the top 10 will be benefitting too. As Rijal explains, “Those who will get the 10 best scores in the nation can definitely get into the best schools in the world. They just need the necessary guidance and support, and that’s what we will provide. We’re going to connect them with our network in America who will help them in the application process from preparing for the SATs, compiling essays and selecting colleges that are right for them.”
This, however, is no guarantee of admission to the colleges abroad. That depends on the capability of the students, but the admission process is made easier and hassle free.
According to him, the Math culture has always been important in the international field. “It’s said that quantitative skills is very important for sustainable development. But in Nepal, Math has been limited to teaching capability. Through the Math Olympiad and then Bloom School of Mathematics, we hope to start a positive vibe for Mathematics,” says the Math enthusiast.
Based on the principle of providing a holistic education, Bloom Nepal is designed to be a network of schools that will offer the students a chance to pursue and polish their passion. To be inaugurated on April 28, later this year, the school at Ekantakuna is to be the first of 18 schools that Rijal is intending to set up all over the country within the next eight years.
The schools are proposed to be established in Butwal, Biratangar, Pokhara, Dang, Nepalgunj, Jumla, Syangjha, Birgunj, Dharan and Narayanghat. Accepting that this is rather an ambitious plan, he says, “We will work towards the goal, but will, of course, be flexible along the way and work accordingly.”
An hour of the elective subject of their choice after a regular day of school will do students a lot of good. Rijal’s plan is to establish a School of Mathematics, a School of Computer Science and one for the arts and the elective subjects will be conducted to meet the international standard. The school will have classes from four to 12 and will follow the International Baccalaureate structure.
Rijal says, “It’s my experience from having met brilliant students at MIT that if the interests and passions of the children are sharpened from a young age, they will continue to develop their skills. And that’s what we are trying to do in Bloom Nepal.”
Volunteers will be tutoring the students initially, but as it’s not a sustainable plan and he has already come up with other options. Toppers from Tribhuvan and Kathmandu University will be hired and trained in order to be able to provide quality education to the young minds.
For someone who’s always intended to return to his country, Rijal’s enthusiastic beginning could be an example for many.