Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Article excerpt

This Nepalese headteacher's school was destroyed by devastating earthquakes. Six months on, learning continues in a temporary bamboo structure, bringing a sense of normality to students' lives

I have been a teacher for 20 years and began teaching at Parewanda Lower Secondary School six years ago. It is a rural school in the Sindhuli region of Nepal with 141 students aged 4-15. My father was also a teacher and he inspired me to join the profession. He used to say: "Education is the light of knowledge and wisdom."

My day starts at 5am, when I begin doing household chores such as gathering leaves and grass for our cattle, sowing seeds and cultivating the fields. I have breakfast - or morning lunch as we call it in Nepal - at about 8.45am. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to school and I usually arrive at about 9.20am.

My routine changed when the earthquake struck on 25 April this year. It was Saturday afternoon and I was working on our family smallholding. Suddenly the ground started to shake. I put my arms out to steady myself but there was nothing to hold on to. My wife and daughter were working in an adjacent field, but my son was at home watching television. I ran back to the house as fast as I could and saw him emerge through the front door - unhurt, but with a look of shock and disbelief.

When I made my way to the school, the building was totally destroyed. It had been reduced to rubble with desks and teaching materials poking out through the mounds of rock. My staff and I salvaged as much as we could. The school incurred losses of more than 600,000 rupees (almost £4,000, which is 30 times the salary of an average secondary school teacher).

Incredibly, seven of my students turned up the following Monday but we had to send them home because the school was in ruins. The greatest damage was to the children themselves: many were reluctant to leave their temporary shelters, traumatised by what they had experienced. …

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