Young change makers

Environmental pollution is not Nepal’s only problem. Citizens around the globe share social, economic and developmental problems. If our situation is the same, our destiny is also the same. So, we have no choice but to unite and solve our problems together. We have to think beyond our surroundings and become global citizens.”

These words are not from an environmentalist or a politician, but from Ankit Sangroula, a Grade 8 student at Mount View School in Bhaktapur. Speaking at Hotel Yak & Yeti, his speech left the room full of adults awestruck.

Sangroula is one of the students mentored by Connecting Classrooms, a joint initiative between the British Council and the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). The program is designed to cultivate knowledge, skills and values in young people so they can live and work in a globalised economy. Working off the beaten track of academic system, the initiative connects students across the world to foster national and international friendship.

It also inspires young people to make positive contributions locally and globally. For example, in Baijanathpur, Morang, eight toilets were built by students from Makalu School without any support from donors or local banks. They gave an alternative to villagers who previously used riverbanks as a bathroom where they were sometimes bitten by snakes or chased by the police, but now they have an alternative. The local village council and the rest of the villagers followed their steps by constructing more toilets.

The Open Defecation Eradication Project was one of the Council’s successful Social Action Projects conducted in Nepal’s schools. The projects are student-led initiatives focused on tackling community issues and inspiring leadership and team spirit in students. The Social Action Project has been collaborating with 100 schools from 24 districts, involving 16,200 students and reaching out to around 17,000 community members to solve social problems.

The project results have left many impressed. “When these little students came to us to talk about building toilets, we were so proud of them. All of us here are really thankful for this initiative,” says Jhameli Rishidev of Baijanathpur.

In total, British Council has reached out to more than 250 schools in Nepal through International School Award (ISA), integrated with a curriculum that focuses on digital literacy, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, student leadership, collaboration and communication and citizenship.

The event where Sangroula gave a confident speech was ISA, one of the key programs of the British Council under Connecting Classrooms that recognises schools showing strong commitment to enriching students’ lives and inspiring interest in international cultures and global issues.

“Through ISA, I have learnt to use the knowledge we get from books to solve problems around us. Before, we just read books and listened to our teachers. But now we learn by doing,” says Sangroula.

Nineteen other schools were awarded and four schools were re-accredited for the year 2017/18 during the event, out of 42 schools from 14 districts. The award, into its 6th edition, is endorsed by the Department of Education.

Connecting Classrooms has reached out to students, teachers and school leaders in over 30 countries to improve teaching and learning experience through school partnerships and policy dialogues, recognising and awarding progressive schools and encouraging students to lead initiatives. It also provides core skill training to school leaders and teachers on how to make the profession more effective and impactful.

Dhani Ram Sharma, a teacher from Nepal Rastriya Chandraganga Secondary School in Surkhet says, "ISA brought dynamic changes in our teaching staff as well as students. Students got golden opportunity to interact with international students through Skype and email. We, teachers learnt about ICT and brought changes in our traditional/ lecture teaching approach, developing innovative techniques."

Schools receiving International School Award 2017/18

1Nepal Rastriya Chandra Ganga schoolSurkhet
2Orchid SchoolChitwan
3Celebration Co-ed SchoolKathmandu
4Vidya Sagar English Secondary schoolKavre
5Nabin Audhyogic Kadak Bahadur Rita SchoolRupandehi
6Sanskriti International SchoolKathmandu
7Him Rashmi Secondary SchoolKathmandu
8Pragyan AcademyJhapa
9KK International SchoolDharan
10Mount View English Boarding SchoolBhaktapur
11Traibidya Sikchhya Sadan AcademyKathmandu
12Sudesha High SchoolLalitpur
13Eureka SchoolDharan
14Jhapa Model SchoolJhapa
15Babylon SchoolKathmandu
16Shreejana Higher Secondary Boarding SchoolPokhara
17Ambika secondary schoolPokhara
18Gorkha Intl Public SchoolDang
19Eurokids school ChhauniKathmandu