for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fulfilled a Fulfilling Endeavour

~A report on Literacy Status Appraisal byUNESCO club

       The 18 members of the UNESCO club of Samtengang MSS, along with the coordinator embarked on           an important journey on 21st April, 2013. It was a sunny Sunday while the club started off to conduct a Literacy Status Appraisal in the two nearby villages. We were to cover at least 30 households under the survey wherein general questions on education will be answered. The main aim of the survey was to discover the educational status of our immediate community and create awareness based on our findings. (The analysis report will give a deeper insight into the technicalities of the study)
All members were up by 6 in the morning. The first task was to prepare our lunch and the deed was done within no time, with all hands busy. Two curries and steaming rice found their way into the lunch boxes. Then we moved to the mess for breakfast.
After which we gathered and the coordinator briefed on the day’s task. Everyone was grouped in pairs and the forms were distributed to each group. Everyone was excited to their fullest… energetic and wearing broad smiles.
Then we marched, walked and strolled. On the way, laughter filled the air and Birds chirping amidst was an added adventure. It was so enthralling to be out of our normal routines.  Some were busy with sweet melodies plugged in their ears whilst few sang. We stopped occasionally and enjoyed the breathtaking view. Photo sessions were always interesting with some girls shying away from the camera though some gave their broadest smiles. We saw wide spread of fields filled with varied crops and we were greeted by the overwhelming fragrance of nature.
 An hour went by and we reached a small clustered village called Gyelekha. It was then that we started to get busy. In our respective pairs, we spread across the village and interviewed the villagers. The response from the community was encouraging. Some even offered tea and lunch. Few of our friends found the task difficult as they had to literally translate the questions. But it was fun and knowledge filled all the way.
Upon completion of our tasks in the village, we gathered near a chorten (stupa) below the village. The view from the spot was enticing and it was a treat after all the heat and sweating. Photo sessions and refreshment constituted the much deserved break.
A good rest taken, we moved towards the next village. After climbing some slopes, crossing few brooks and strolling over numerous terraced fields, we reached Nyishokha, the next village. The members did their best to get answers and yes, we were done.
The coordinator collected the data and found out that we were done with 40 households. We didn’t have more households to do owing to time constraint and absence of villages in the immediate vicinity.
Satisfied and relaxed, we started our return journey. We stopped in a shady oak forest to feast our much awaited lunch. We were all hungry and exhausted. The meal was awesome. We stayed for a while and resumed our trip. The lunch compelled us to stay longer or even take a good nap.
Though rejuvenated, we were feeling sluggish to walk. This led to a snail’s pace on our return journey. There was less laughter and talking.  But the tables turned when we saw our school, which meant something rewarding. The coordinator discussed and started yet another activity. We decided to clean the path as we walk- a cleaning campaign. Few picked up their first waste after much convincing from the coordinator and friends. The cleaning slowly gained momentum and everybody was busy filling the empty sacks. It was sad to see the filthy heaps of garbage here and there among the green beauty of our environment. The amount of refuse was so much that our sacks were not enough for the garbage in the wild occasionally used forest trail.  We had no choice but resort to leave the papers and just pick the plastics and other non-biodegradable. We had five overflowing sacks when we reached our school. We wondered the amount of pollution in the other parts of the society as it was more than shocking to see such amount of waste in a secluded and less travelled surrounding with very less population.
Thus we reached our school at 5 PM. We had various experiences- exhausted, fulfilled and “I need a refreshing shower” … feelings were all we had with us.


Analysis Report: Literacy Status Appraisal

UNESCO ASPnet Club: Samtengang MSS
Analysis Report: Literacy Status Appraisal
Global Action Week 2013
Every child Needs a Teacher

1.      Background

The Global Action Week around the corner with the broad theme- Every Child needs a teacher; the UNESCO club of SMSS also took responsibility of participating in the global awareness program. Among the various activities aligned with the theme, we dedicated much effort towards conducting a literacy status appraisal which would give us facts and figures that would enable us to sensitize on the global theme of Education for All (EFA). The appraisal is conducted among the households of Samtengang village which is aimed to figure out the literacy status of the community along with their knowledge on teaching profession and other educational aspects. Through the appraisal we aim to bring out a comprehensive literacy status so that we can create awareness campaigns on EFA.

Create awareness on Education for All (EFA) and the role of teachers in a child’s life.

Through the appraisal we aspire to:
1.      Collect figures on literacy level in the community
2.      Gather reasons for dropping schools or not being in school
3.      Find out the status of teaching profession in the community
4.      Figure out people’s knowledge on child right and quality education
5.      Analyze and use the information to create awareness on EFA, right for education and teacher importance/gap

The Appraisal
Ø  The questionnaire consists of 18 broad items which varies from literacy status, teacher information, dropout cases, quality education and the right for education.
Ø  Each question is targeted towards gathering an exact answer in order to collect accurate information
Ø  The club members along with the coordinator will visit each household and carry out the study. We aim to cover 50-70 households for the study.
Ø  The information would then be consolidated and analyzed by the club
Ø  An analysis report would be drawn out to get a clear case scenario
Ø  According to the report, the club will plan activities on EFA, teacher profession, educational aspects and child rights in the community
Ø  The same report would be submitted to concerned offices and uploaded online so as to spread the message.

2.      Analysis Report
Through the one day survey, we uncovered many unheard and unrecorded mysteries in the  education statistics of our immediate community: Samtengang. The survey gave in-depth answers to our questions related to education and the club discovered a lot of useful interesting facts. Some of the findings were overwhelming yet few disturbed our weaker emotions.  Thus we present our answers with detail coverage of the minutest elements.
The appraisal covered 40 households with the total population amounting to 255 heads, wherein 123 were male and 132 females. We conducted the study in two villages of Gyelekha and Nyishokha.
It was interesting to find out that 61 males were literate compared to 55 females. 15 of the literate populace attended monastic education while the rest went to formal modern schools. The highest qualification attained by the literate body was Bachelors (2 had formal degree).
On the higher scale, 99 of the total population were illiterate, owing to varied reasons. 56 illiterate members are female. 17 of the illiterate were denied their education due to various family obligations and 1 could not go to school due to the distance of school from his home. 15 could not achieve the modern necessity owing to some interesting yet sad reasons. Some of the many reasons include:
a.      Their parents expired or divorced
b.      Monetary reasons
c.       There was none to help in the fields
d.      One was kept home and their siblings were sent to school
e.       They didn’t want to attend school
It was also encouraging to see that 64 children are currently attending school. Sadly 42 children are school drop-outs. 22 of the drop-outs are female. 10 children dropped school due to family obligations whilst parents of 2 children could not afford the expenses. We were demoralized to a large extent when we discovered that 11 children dropped because they failed in schools. Few felt shy to continue school since they felt themselves too big/matured for their class. In paradox, few lost interest in studies and like anywhere some gave in to their weakness and chose marriage. Few said the school location was the reason while few joined the armed force.
In the other phase of the study, 37 people had knowledge on child rights while 3 didn’t have any idea. Much motivating, everyone agreed to the importance of education. They added that education helps an individual in his life and it contributes to building a better nation.
On quality of education, 27 remarked it as excellent though 12 said it is fair enough. 1 tagged it good. We discovered that people however had very less say on quality of education.
When asked the importance of teachers in a child’s life, respectfully all 40 households agreed to the statement. 19 people consider the teaching profession as noble. However 2 said it is a complicated affair and 2 referred it as a boring profession. On the brighter side, the rest thinks teaching is an attractive job.
Moreover, we were happy to unearth  that 24 school going children wanted to be teachers after graduation.
The last and important question was on retaining current teachers and attracting quality graduates. 19 supported salary hike and 4 suggested providing incentives. 5 households went for retirement benefits while 15 people said that support is more important. 2 opted for career advancement opportunities.  Some told that the concern of teachers should be taken seriously and the government should support accordingly.
This was it and the appraisal ended successfully.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Letter That Inspired me to Be More

Exploring the amazing wilderness of Samtengang

This letter was written to me through a mobile 'sms' in February 2012 by a former yet special student. The letter lifted my spirits beyond boundaries. Love, joy and satisfaction filled the air and I pledged to be more. I believed in myself that I too can be an agent of change. Thank you Sherub for making me realize...Sherub, I wish you everything you desire. You were an exemplary student with all the qualities of a WOW student. Keep it up and continue to make us proud!!!

February, 2012
My Dearest Sir,                  

I have always looked upon you as my brother and mentor. You are my Robin Sharma because of the life lessons you have taught me: I look upon my life as a gift, everyday, and I know you have taught me that. Of course, you were simply the best English teacher I ever had. And you made me the more special by your treasurable concern and care for me. Students need more teachers like you, sir. You inspire: I have set my goal on being an ideal teacher for one reason, and I hope that sir know it. And too, I simply value this profession because of the positive motivations you gave me. As I feel every word you have said over the years we have been together, as not just formal teacher-student but also as brothers come true, I do wish you will be my teacher for longer. I know that you have planned to give me all those Robin Sharma books as prizes. Thank you, sir. These books have caused me to change to a better man and a loyalee. You have given me a zeal for language; all those mindless hours we spent together in your office(if that is right), you pouring forth valuable lessons and me listening like a cynic! I will always treasure these times. I know I will, sir.

And it is the same with Madam. I have always looked on her as the sister I never had albeit she was the most understanding and cleverest maths teacher I ever had.

My words are not dry; I have a thousand emotions stirring in me, and it is gratitude and unbridled love I feel as I etch these words on my heart. I know I can't always be dependent and shy as I have been. Sir, your words give me hope, confidence and most fundamentally, humility atop humanity. I sincerely thank you for all what you have done to me. I promise, as your ex-student and as a brethren, that I will always be the Sherub you and madam knew. I know I was not the best student, but more important, you are my best role model of teachers, and an exemplary couple! Pardon my informality, and forgive the offence, sir. My heart speaks; my joy for you is boundless, and most crucial, please do not take my words as dry words. I mean every single one of them, and you can trust me for that, sir. "Just one of your true students. You are a real teacher, and thank you all the more for that. I am really sorry for living below your expectation, but I will never forget the true ordeal you aspire for me. I will try. Thank you for everything, sir.   

Your Student:
Sherub Dorji
Class X, 2012

Tedious, Enduring, Awesome, Complicated, Honorable, Empowering, Respectable, Sensitive… A Profession called Teaching

Dedicated to teachers across the globe who are working tirelessly for the benefit of innocent children and building nations... 

Teachers contribute to the highest group of civil service. The teaching job is different from other professions. To a pessimistic man, teaching is a tedious, hectic and sensitive job. But teaching is all fun and important for an optimistic person. For a teacher… it depends.

Teachers play a very important role in building a nation. The responsibility is huge. Many innocent lives depend on a teacher. It is the teacher who can guide the future populace. So the world needs teachers.

The world is facing a deep scarcity of teachers. It is startling to know that 61 million children are denied their basic right to quality education due to the shortage of teachers. An added disadvantage is that our current teachers are leaving the profession at an ever increasing rate. Globally, we face yet another challenge of retaining and developing our current teachers. The system ought to invent a magic formula to attract best graduates to choose teaching as their first career choice and retain current educators. If a survey is carried out among current teachers, it will be astounding to know that most of them joined the trade as their last option. As a teacher, I feel a small important hole should be filled in the system in order to make the profession a WOW job. Consistent support tops the list. Teachers lack support and career development opportunities. Moreover, the outlook on teachers has deteriorated in the recent years. There was a time when the trade carried the highest honor in the society. The respected title of lopen (teacher) has become the most tedious and widely used scapegoat.

But all the way, we are doing a great job although the environment is breaking us apart. A teacher’s job is sensitive. We have to deal with young fragile minds and if our (moral) responsibilities fail, then the consequences would be large. A teacher should guide the nation into the future. A normal person will feel the load and role only if he spends some time in the classroom. All the blames that comes will lessen. After all, teachers face all sorts of challenges in the classroom and outside the classrooms. Personal sacrifices are huge in the teaching job. We can never postpone our duty because a day’s task must be fulfilled on that particular day. Every single day is imperative. The duties outside the classrooms are always there. Assignment corrections, student behavior improvement, co-curricular activities etc are few from the many outside the classroom activities.
Teach and Taught is a group on Google +
Please join this group to support Education for All
Click Here to visit the group and join

Thus the questions of monetary benefits come in. Teachers feel that they are not paid adequately. With immense responsibility and risk factor that comes along, I totally agree with this. One very important reality is that teachers have to depend on the so called ‘dry’ salary to meet all ends. We rarely get opportunities to generate extra income. Globally, teachers do extra jobs to meet their life expenses (UNESCO statistics). This statement of money matters might be viewed differently by diverse sections of people but the simple truth answers all doubts. The world moves around money… the inflations, the modern demands, and the basic needs all boils down to the materialistic thing called money. 

Teaching is noble. And teachers are important to build a vibrant future. The job requires sacrifices and consistent development. Children depend on teachers to receive quality education. The world suffers teacher shortage and teachers leaving the profession. Education is the most important tool to breed a positive society. Teachers play crucial roles and there is a need to improve the present status of teachers. The ways and means to attract the cream of graduates to join the trade is vital. Even more, we need to retain our trained teachers through regular professional development opportunities and support from all sections of the society. The teachers should be equipped with skills to face/overcome the 21st century challenges.

I don’t write so because I am a teacher. I write so as the world of teachers needs a closer look-to achieve the global dream of Quality Education for All.