Saturday, November 7, 2009

And then there was a Computer...

On Friday I was at the school, thinking that it would be a normal day, when I was told by one of the other teacher's that Conserve Nepal, a group who helps children in Nepal, was coming today with a new Computer. After I had taught four of my usual five classes I went out to the school yard and saw a large group of children gathered around one of the small tables from Class 1. I was busy taking photos of different kids, most of them would come up to me and say "Miss, one photo, one photo", when the Headmaster called me over to take some pictures of the Ceremonial passing of the computer mouse and keyboard. I took many pictures of the man from Conserve Nepal shaking hands with the Headmaster and giving a short speech about how useful the computer will be to the development of the children's technical skills. After all of the speeches had been made we all piled into the Library to watch the men plug in the computer and set it up. The main issue with this seemingly simple task was that the school, which looks similar to a prison, did not have power that day.

I should describe the school to give a good idea of why this computer is probably one of the few things that the school does not need. Each of the five classrooms does not have proper windows, there are shutters and metal panes to keep the children from falling out of them. All of the classrooms are grey walled and concrete floor to ceiling. I have one blackboard and a piece of chalk in each room, and that is just about it. The Library however, is a different story. The Library is mostly locked up and the children are allowed into it once a week, and for how long I am not sure. There was a project to build and make the Library by some foundation in 2006, and there are many books, for all levels of readers, there are four coloured walls, and nice mats for the children to sit on. Walking into this Library is like walking into a different school altogether. You would never imagine that this school would have such a place, and I think it is amazing that is does.

My problem, or not problem but thing, with the computer is that I think the money that was spent purchasing the computer could have been put toward many other needed things. My students often, at least 5 children in each class, do not have pencils, or paper. They sit at the back of the class, usually, and do not say a word, they just sit and watch as the other children are writing and forming sentences and getting check marks. Often I will come to class with extra paper and pencils or make sure that the students are at least watching the board to see what to learn. It is so frustrating at times because it is such a simple thing to have pencils and paper to provide to the underprivileged children, and yet it is such a luxury that is not provided.
I spoke for awhile with the man from Conserve Nepal and he said that there were three schools which they felt needed the computer the most, ours was one of them. I told him how grateful everyone was that they received the computer, but I wish I could have asked him how many crayons, coloured paper or paint for the school walls this computer could have bought instead. I held my tongue, because it is not my place to dictate what the donations should be. I think while they were giving the speeches to introduce the new computer, the man spoke in English to me at one point to say that "the children will benefit so much from using this computer, it will enhance their English IT skills". I thought to myself that these children need to learn how to form proper sentences and be able to hold a conversation before their IT skills are honed.
I hope that in the coming weeks, while I am still here, I can help introduce more time with the books in the Library, and more time with the computer. I would love to start teaching the children how to use the computer to the best of my ability, and I think that is a positive way I can turn this situation around. On another note, I will also be taking steps (financial) to hire people to paint the walls of our school white, because at the very least the children deserve a space where they can imagine their bright futures and appreciate the education they receive within those walls.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Liz,

    Do you think I could get the boys to organize a drive in their school or at least their classes for the things you think your students need the most? We could collect either cash or the stuff and give it to you to take back over after Christmas. Just a thought. Be sure to bring lots of photos home for us to see. I will be sure to get them to read this post and see what they think.