Junior Officer, Media and Communication
December 7, 2015
On my first day in Achham, a hilly district in the far west of Nepal, I landed in Santosh's grade 3 classroom. Filled with many colors and drawings displayed along the walls, the classroom looked like an indoor playground decorated with teaching materials, most of which were made by students and teachers.
As I sat down to learn how the teacher ran her classes, I spotted Santosh, sitting and listening to the teacher while also managing to laugh and smile quietly with his classmates. He looked a bit mischievous. However he would raise his hand to answer questions and participate actively in the group learning activities.
I spoke to his teacher to know more about him. Santosh had been known as a boy who picked fights with his teachers and friends in school. Due to his lack of interest in his studies he had to repeat grade 2, while all his friends progressed to a higher grade. I became more curious about him.
When I had the chance to ask him some questions, I asked Santosh about his experience in school. He shared that initially, he disliked coming to school because he was having a hard time understanding what was happening in the classroom. When he was unable to complete the lessons being taught, he was often punished.
In Santosh’s school, teaching styles gradually changed after the implementation of the Active Teaching Learning method, which encourages teachers to use locally available learning materials and to allow children to become an active element in the learning process. In an active teaching and learning class like Santosh's, teachers and students are on the same level, discussing, drawing, singing, dancing, taking turns asking questions and answering them, and laughing as they spend time in class. Santosh excitedly told me about the ways he learns in class, using balls, blocks, colorful charts, songs and even natural materials like stones or sticks. He proudly showed me a car he made out of mud and sticks.
Santosh looked happy in the classroom, finally able to understand what his teachers taught. For him, school has become fun because his teacher is now more like a mentor or friend and less like a disciplinarian or authority there to punish him.
Speaking to Santosh took me back to my own school days, when the only way the teacher taught was through textbooks and us repeating whatever was being taught. Being unable to memorize lessons completely had landed me in trouble many times and I too was punished. I remember how much it discouraged me and instilled a sense of fear.
Spending a day in Santosh's classroom reminded me that things have changed now, even in this remote part of my country. Now classrooms are playgrounds where you learn through play.
As a part of the Basic Education program, Save the Children provides training to teachers and school staff to help them make classrooms more interactive and joyful. We are proud to say that with the help of our dedicated sponsors, the program has now reached sixteen districts in Nepal. Thank you for your support!
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.