October 5th marks World Teachers’ Day. It’s a day to celebrate teachers worldwide, and to reflect on the challenges that so many of them face. Adara supports teachers in various regions, where their task is often very difficult, yet also very rewarding. One such area is Humla, a remote district in north-western Nepal. For this World Teachers’ Day, we spoke to one teacher, Sarita, about her experience.
Hi Sarita, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been teaching in Humla?
My name is Sarita Sharma and I am from Maila village, southern Humla, four days walk from Simikot. I am married and I have three kids. I have been into the teaching service for the last 19 years. I was a temporary teacher in the beginning for about eight years and it has been eleven years now since I became a permanent primary level government teacher through the teachers’ service commission.
How has being a teacher in Humla changed over time? Have there been any major changes recently?
Compared to the past, a lot of things have changed and improved in the education sector in Humla. In the past, we teachers had no teacher training and had very limited teaching materials available which made it hard to deliver effective teaching to our students. Since I lacked good teaching techniques and confidence, I used to feel embarrassed and uneasy when monitoring teams from the district education office or from other offices that visited my school. Things have changed a lot over time though. I have received a lot of teacher training for things such as teachers’ performance development, child friendly teaching methods, early child development teaching methods and such. We now have basic teaching materials available in our school. There has been change in the overall environment of education in Humla. However, we still have long way to go in imparting quality education to our kids in Humla. We still don’t have enough classrooms, playgrounds, teachers or teaching materials in our school.
The whole country of Nepal has entered into a new federal structure recently which will have a huge impact on the education sector; how schools are being governed, how resources are being allocated and how teachers are being managed. The whole country is in confusion right now.
What are some of the challenges you face working in such a remote location?
Being a mother with young kids, it’s very difficult for me to work in such a remote region like Humla. Due to remoteness with no road access and harsh weather, books for kids and teaching materials are not delivered on time. We couldn’t open or run schools effectively. Kids, especially girls, are often engaged in household work, such as working in the field, grazing cattle, collecting fuel wood etc. which is affecting their education. Food and everything we have here are being transported by planes which become too expensive for us to afford. I am lucky, my school is not very far from where I live, but many teachers in Humla have to walk several hours back and forth to teach at their schools. They don’t get to see their families often.
What is your favourite part of being a teacher in Humla?
Despite all the changes I have to face here, I am proud of being able to fulfil my duty and have good relationship with all my students. I have the opportunity to teach them, guide them and shape their future to be successful people to change Humla. And this region is beautiful with fresh air, clean water and beautiful mountains.
How do you expect education in Humla to change in the future? What do you hope the next few years will bring?
I am very optimistic. More and more kids are being sent to school. Due to various support and awareness programmes from government and non- profit organizations, the people of Humla are realizing the importance of education. Humli people have been deprived and lived in poverty for generation after generation. We now have begun to realize that education is the key to break this vicious cycle of poverty. I don’t think we will realize this dream in few years’ time, but over time this region will definitely overcome hardships like hunger, illiteracy, poverty, deprivation and what not.