Teaching in Nepal

I’ve been teaching for a few months now and in that time have been thinking about education and schooling in Nepal. Here are a few thoughts and observations…

Parent-Teacher Relationship

Tri showed me this comic a few months ago about the teacher-parent relationship in the past versus now.

The way the cartoon describes 1969 is a somewhat accurate (although exagerated) description of the parent-teacher relationship at the school I teach at and (I think) in Nepal in general. When a kid does something wrong or isn’t doing well in school, a parent is called in, there’s a discussion, and the parent often expresses his/her disappointment to the kid. Sometimes it’s more than disappointment. I’ve seen parents get really mad at their kids for not doing well and yell at them for not listening to their teachers. I’m sure that parents get mad at teachers too, and they must have disagreements, but I’ve found that for the most part, parents listen carefully to teachers and respect their opinions. This is pretty different from the model I grew up with in the US. I’ve never taught in the US, but I was a student at a public school. Not only do parents blame teachers for failing students, the government does as well. With new reforms aimed at fixing inadequacies in the school systems, it’s often the teachers who suffer. I don’t think the Nepali model is necessarily the answer, but it’s good to see teachers really getting respect. I think there’s probably some balance between the two extremes that would work best.

Public vs. Private

I like working at a private school. The curriculum is great. Extra-curricular activities are well-funded, and parents are heavily involved. But it has also made me appreciate public schooling. The thing about a private school is that if a kid is a trouble maker or not doing well in school, he/she can be kicked out. The school may try very hard to prevent that from happening, but ultimately they make the decision about it. Public schools, on the other hand, have to accept every child in their district: the studious pupils, the troublemakers, students with disabilities, students who are poor and those who are rich. Of course, many districts in the US are already segregated racially and socio-economically, but at a public school, there’s still a greater likelyhood that students come from a range of experiences and backgrounds. The idealist in me likes to think that this helps to foster tolerance and appreciation for difference.

Attitude Towards Education

One thing that I love about teaching here is the Nepali attitude towards education. The students’ families at the school I work at are very involved. Parental willingness to help out at school, go on field trips, organize events, etc. is actually one of the criteria the school looks for when accepting students. The parents there may have particularly strong feelings about the importance of getting an education. However, I’ve met Nepalis from many different parts of Nepal, from different ethnic groups, in different economic situations. Again and again I hear and see a similar attitude towards education in parents and kids: that school is one of the most important things and no matter what, you must try your hardest. Whether it’s the kids whose parents drive them to school every day or the kids who walk two hours both ways to attend. In the US, many people believe that getting an education is important, maybe one of the most important things in life. And I think that the great majority of people want their kids to attend school, but there’s no wide-spread push to do your very best and to attain the highest degree that you can.

A New Perspective

Becoming a teacher has given a new perspective on schooling. Being in Nepal and getting to know how education works here is one thing, but I think just being a teacher has given me a new perspective on how teaching and learning work and also on my own education. It’s definitely made me more empathetic towards my previous teachers. Teaching is not an easy job. I come home exhausted from work sometimes, but I find it immensely satisfying. There’s no “best way” to teach a child because students vary so much, but I am learning that some methods work better than others. Although I don’t think I want to continue to be a classroom teacher in the long run, I think I’d always like to teach in some capacity. The process involved in learning is so fascinating, and I’d like to continue in a career that allows me to explore and understand it better.

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15 thoughts on “Teaching in Nepal

  1. Pingback: Low Class = Low Scores = Repeat Cyle « Padmini's Svorga

  2. My mum will so agree with the cartoon you posted. She has been teaching in public school for 30+ years. She always mentioned that time has changed so much in last decade that teachers are scared of students these day rather than students being scared of teachers . Despite that she loves her job and will be doing that few more years to come.

    I was teaching Diploma students in university in Sydney before this job and I just loved it. I know it is not same as in Nepal but I had lots of international students from different walk of life. It was so good to be part of their education and was really a fulfilling career. May be I will go back one day to be a teacher again as I enjoyed being a teacher more than being a Business Analyst.

    Happy Teaching Zoe !!!

  3. During my last time in Nepal, my friend and me we were in his village in East Nepal in Khotang. There we visited the public and private school too.
    I saw all the children were so happy to have a chance to learning. Some children have a way about 3 hours to go to the school every day.
    I think children in Nepal they know better thet learning the basic for the live it, then the most children here in Germany.
    Whit that topic, I think, children our society can learn more from Nepali society.

  4. How about the difference between education system in Nepal and that in the US? By that, I mean the process of teaching and learning, expectations, outcomes etc. Do you have any perspective on that? I find myself comparing between these two systems and often have a lot to say. I think it could be a nice blog topic.

    • That’s definitely an interesting topic. I don’t know too much about the process of teaching and learning in Nepali public schools or more traditional Nepali schools, except that I’ve heard there’s a lot of rote memorization. The school I work at is very different from the traditional Nepali model (I think) and is more similar to the education I grew up with. They recognize that children are intelligent in multiples ways and they try and promote creativity and independent thinking, rather than just the recall of information. It’s really a great school.

  5. This reminds me of an article I just read about the educational system in Finland, and how they don’t focus on standardized test scores at all and they respect teachers much more than in American society.

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