In rural Nepal, many students have difficulty passing the SLC exam (School Leaving Certificate). This exam, taken at the end of the 10th grade, is crucial for higher educational opportunities. Private school pass rates are 93%; public school pass rates are 30-40%.
Many teachers cite the lack of proper English instruction as a major barier to passing the SLC. Many rural schools do not have libraries and many schoolchildren do not read books outside of their classbooks, like in many other 'developed' countries. Smartketi felt that one way to help children improve English literacy and conversational skills was by creating a library at Manthali Higher Secondary School.
In 2016, smartketi established the smartlibrary with help from teachers, volunteers and schoolchildren. It painted a mural of the world on one of its walls to teach students about the world beyond Manthali. It set up cushions on the floors to provide a place for quiet reading. It set up bookshelves to store an increasing number of books and other classroom supplies.
The smartlibrary's main goal is to encourage English skills in a fun, interactive way with English-speaking volunteers. It hopes to accomplish the following goals:
The smartlibrary is open every morning while school is in session. When we have English-speaking volunteers, they teach a short lesson to the eager students. Sometimes they teach more formal English skills like similes, synonyms and antonyms, writing stories and poems. Other times, they hold a conversation circle where they help students practice their English. Each session ends with some sort of fun game or activity.
If there are no volunteers available on a particular day, the smartlibrary is still open. Instead of being taught a lesson, the children quietly read books, look through magazines or work on drawings or stories that they had previously learned.
The students love to spend time in the library.
The students at the smartlibary range from Grade 8-Grade 10. They are vey eager to interact with all volunteers. Many students invite volunteers to their homes after school to share about their lives. Rachana Bhurtel (left) invited volunteers to her house. Her family owned several goats and chickens. She was the youngest of three girls. Both of her older sisters married at young ages and already had families of their own. Rachana did not want to marry young like her sisters; she spoke of her desire to study to be a nurse.
There is no set curriculum; volunteers have been very creative and have taught a variety of lessons including learning similes, writing poetry, and writing and illustrating stories. Volunteers have come up with various ways to teach children English in very creative ways.
Since its inception, numerous volunteers have spent time at the smartlibary. Some stay for a few days; others stay for a few months. All enjoy their time at the library. Here are what our volunteers say about their time.