One of ICRI Nepal’s most exciting projects is the National Center on Learning Resouces. Housed in ICRI’s office in Kathmandu, the project provides innovative education training programs for pre-primary and primary school educators. NCLR’s mission is “To transform the dull, rote memorization-focused, un-stimulating and teacher-centric Nepali school education system into learning environments that are joyful, meaningful, creative, and child-friendly.”
How does NCLR take on this admittedly huge task? Through providing off-site trainings to teachers, led by the country’s best and brightest early childhood educators, as well as going on-site to work intensively with teachers and school administrators to literally transform their classrooms. In later posts I’ll show some of the results of these amazing on-site transformations. But for now I want to focus on the off-site training that is critical to NCLR’s success.
During my trip to Nepal, I had the opportunity to participate in a half-day training session led by three esteemed early childhood experts. This training was one of just many attended by a core group of nearly 50 early childhood educators from Kathmandu, the majority of whom work in extremely resource-challenged schools serving low-income children and families.
As one participant shared during the session, “We come here to these trainings because we get something we haven’t gotten anywhere else- the message that learning should be joyful! Teaching should be joyful! Before, I thought my students learned best when they were quiet, passive. Now I realize that their excitement and activity is a sign that they are actually learning and developing.”
Although side-by-side on-site training in the teachers’ own classrooms is a critical part of NCLR, in Kathmandu I realized just how important these off-site trainings are to achieving the project’s mission. Even after a classroom has been transformed into a child-friendly learning environment, in that space a teacher must still be a teacher: the leader who is responsible for the wellbeing of her students. But by taking teachers out of their classrooms, by allowing them to be students themselves, to have an opportunity to personally experience the joy of creative learning, an even deeper level of transformation starts to occur.