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Athabasca University

Building a Dream: Nepal Update

Dr. Susan BainbridgeThis is the third in a series of occasional letters from Susan Bainbridge to The Insider (AU newsletter) by Susan Bainbridge, an AU doctoral student in distance education, who teaches at the Higher Colleges of Technology in the United Arab Emirates and has been working in support of the Mansingh Dharma School in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Over the past two years, due to the interest and generosity of readers like you, progress at the Mansingh Dharma School has been steady. During the past few months, the universe has begun to unfold in miraculous ways, and I thought an update might interest those of you who have already helped and encourage others to join us.

Mohamed Ally in NepalAs many of you will know, AU has been working with the Government of Nepal and other interested parties to found the Open University of Nepal. As the first open university in the country, it would help many Nepali citizens to further their education. This development was extremely fortuitous for me personally, as my doctoral research centres on Nepal and e-learning.

While working through EDDE 804 with my cohort and Dr. Marti Cleveland- Innes, Tony Tin, Sze-Kiu Leung and I presented a project on Nepal and its educational and leadership needs. As a result of this project, and thanks to Tony Tin, James McLeod, Kelcey Carlisle, Paige Jensen and the powers that be at AU who assisted, we managed to set aside 48 used laptops to donate to the Mansingh Dharma School.

During the first week of January, Dr. Mohamed Ally and I went to Nepal to work on a research project related to the Open University of Nepal initiative. Dr. Ally also brought over the first of the 48 used laptops to present to Mansingh Dharma School.

We visited the school with the prime minister’s wife, the minister of state for education, ministry officials and other high ranking Nepali officials on January 5. We knew that these computers represented a significant donation to the school, but it was not until we arrived that we truly understood the magnitude of AU’s generosity in the eyes of the people there. Over 700 parents, students, community leaders and school committee representatives were waiting to greet us. Dr. Ally and I were smothered in garlands of flowers and greetings of ‘Namaste.’ Grandmothers, children and parents were hugging us and expressing their gratitude. It was extremely emotional and difficult to put into words. We were told that Mansingh Dharma School will be the first public school in Nepal to have a computer lab.

The doors that this facility will open for the school’s students are innumerable. The Internet is truly the great equalizer. Suddenly, these children will have access to information that has, until now, been accessible only to the children of wealthier nations. The students, teachers and citizens of Nepal may become future students of AU or the OUN.

Dr. Ally pointed out to government officials that e-learning and m-learning could be the solution to education problems in Nepal. Despite the mountainous terrain, the limited transportation facilities and the lack of infrastructure in the country, the existing learning technology and additional innovative technology being developed daily, can allow Nepal to jump into the twenty-first century.

Our work in Nepal is just beginning, but this donation of 48 used laptops is a significant step forward. Thank you to everyone involved for this magnificent gift.

Although the students will be soon working with e-books and online material, from a pedagogical point of view, their primary-age students still require real books at this time. Hence, my book campaign continues. You can find details on my Facebook page. I hope some of you decide to send a book or two to the school so we can begin the process of developing in their primary students the love of reading and learning.

You can follow the instructions on my Facebook page or simply send books directly to the school principal: Binod Pandit, GPO 12719, Kathmandu, Nepal. The cell phone number is 977-9741126650 (If you send by Amazon or courier they require a cell number).

Listen to an interview of Dr. Mohamed Ally about this donation on The Eyeopener, the morning show on CBC Radio Calgary.

By Susan Bainbridge

 

Last updated by MK May 21, 2014

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