Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sherpa Heritage Model School

Sherpa Heritage Model School By Pasang Sherpa

The key to cultural and economical development of a country is through making education relevant to the local people in terms of their economy, culture, and language. This is especially relevant to a country like Nepal which is made up of more than 35 ethnic groups with a diversity of languages and distinct cultural practices. Because of its relevance to the local culture and language, basic education will become meaningful to the people and will help safeguard & intensify the ethnic identity of the disadvantaged section of the population. Also, making education relevant to the local economy such as through vocational training will meet the needs of upgrading the local socio-economic conditions of the people.Currently, there is still a substantial variation in the educational achievements by gender, geographical regions, and ethnic groups throughout Nepal. In the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal for example, although Sherpa women enjoy a greater level of freedom than Nepali women from other ethnic groups, all women in Nepal have low social status. Young girls are often needed to work in the fields and do other chores at home. So, they are often taken out of school at an early age or are kept from attending school on a regular basis. Sherpa women play a bigger role in farming, keeping the house in order, looking after lodges, and participate in various social & cultural activities than are the men. Therefore, securing Sherpa women's long term participation in education is vital for developing the agricultural and other local economic activities to ease their lives.

In terms of educational relevance to the geographical regions, the national curriculum alone in the Solu-Khumbu schools does not prepare the Sherpa children to embark in local employment or to create service programs and businesses that will contribute to local development. Agriculture and tourism are two major sectors in the Sherpa economy in the Solu-Khumbu. Training is urgently needed in these two areas in order to uplift the local economic condition. But the national curriculum does not take these needs into account.Furthermore, there is an increased risk of Sherpa language and culture lost in the younger generation because of the increase in Sherpa children attending schools in Kathmandu where the culture and language is predominately Nepali and Hindu. This is due to the belief that the level of local education doesn't prepare the young people well enough to participate in the wider political, economic, and cultural aspects of Nepali society. Therefore, for the sake of their children getting a quality education, the parents have no option but to send their children to the schools in Kathmandu.The building of a boarding/day Sherpa Heritage School in the Solu-Khumbu village and the implementation of an alternative Sherpa curriculum would give the community an option to send children to a quality school near home, thus allowing children to stay in the village to socialize with their families and peers for sustaining their culture and language. The Model School curriculum will give emphasis to Sherpa history and culture, thus instilling a strong sense of cultural identity in the children. In addition, vocational training will start at grade 6 for students to acquire the skills and training needed for local jobs and business developments. In addition, there will be an increase in the number of girls' attendance in the school and efforts will be made by working with the families in the community to secure their on-going participation in the school. As a model school that serves to be flexible enough for education to be meaningful and relevant to the local peoples, it will aim to have a positive impact on the practices of teaching, learning, and the curriculum in the surrounding public schools. Through its learning and teaching resource training and sharing component in the model school, teachers in the model school and the rural schools will share resources and embark on useful discussions for making education relevant to local cultures and economy.The development of a strong teaching and management team is essential to realizing these Sherpa Heritage School goals. That means, great emphasis will be placed upon on-going teachers' training and resource sharing and long term local community participation.
Source: International Organization of folk Art

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