15 days ago
What to expect from our students when we are not giving them proper environment to study?
Ever since I joined Teach For Nepal my days went by, by thinking about the school, students and the community. I am placed at Shree Terse Secondary School, which is surrounded by serene mountains and the river, which keeps on flowing reminding me of good old days that I spent with my friends. It is located in Talamarang, Sindhupalchowk.
It took me few days to adjust in the new school and the environment that I was in. Slowly I was able to gain the trust of my students and had become one of their favorite teachers. But I was cunning like other teachers and would scold them when they wouldn’t do their homework. I asked them to give me the reason behind not doing it and they would say, “Sir, I didn’t get time to do it.” I took it as their excuse of not doing it and kept scolding for telling me a lie.
Days just went by until one day one of my female students –Binita; invited me to visit and stay at her home. I was hesitant to go but she insisted. I asked, “Did you ask your parents regarding it?” and she said yes. I asked her few more questions. Will your parents be comfortable to let me in your house as I am a male teacher and was concerned of how the community might take my visit and stay at her home for a day? She said nothing would happen. Then I became ready to go. As I stay at the school – I locked the doors of my room and went with her.
There were other students too, to go to the same place – Panchakanya– as there was their home. The serene wind touched my skin. I could see the hair of my students moving. Some were talking and having fun. I too talked with few students while we were climbing uphill. I am not used to climbing mountains so I was breathing heavily. They looked at my face and teased me. Soon the crowd was getting thin as they reached their house. Binita was ahead of me and would look back to check on me. Finally after walking for one hour we finally reached her home.
Her siblings had already returned from the school and were waiting for her to make and serve snacks. “Didi, bhoklagyo, khajabanaunusna?” She placed her bags on the corner and put the pan on the stove to make Chamre –sweet and spicy rice. In between she hurriedly went to her room and changed her clothes. While she made the food, she asked me to come inside and sit. I talked with her siblings and found that they were good in their studies. Binita served every one of us. It was delicious. Later, there was stack of utensils to be washed. Her mother arrived from the work and greeted me. “Namaste Sir.” “Namaste Didi,” I greeted. Binita took the stack of utensils and went far away to the tap and washed it.
It was getting dark. Her mom asked her to prepare the dinner. She then went to the kitchen and started cooking rice. Her mom went to the farm and brought some farsikomunta. She started to peel. I took some and tried to peel but couldn’t. She laughed and said, “Pardaina sir kelauna.” I said I can do it but had to leave at the end, as I was unable to peel. In between we talked. I asked her about Binita and her sibling’s studies. Also about their family’s situation and so on.
Binita asked her mom from the kitchen, if she is done with peeling farsikomunta. Her mom said yes. Binita washed it and took it to the kitchen and cooked. After an hour the dinner was ready. I washed my hands and ate it. It was scrumptious. Binita ate at the last after serving everyone. By the time we ate dinner, it was already 8:00 pm. Her father had still not arrived. He came at 9:00 pm. As he was on the door, her mom went to him and said that sir had come. He came inside the room where I was in and greeted me. I greeted him and we talked for a while. He was thin. I could see him tired. Also, I could see the dust on his body as he said that he carried the cement to concrete his neighbor’s house the following day. He went by saying that he needs to take a bath. As he came after freshening, Binita served him dinner. It was 10:00 pm. After serving her dad she came to her room. I was helping her siblings with their studies. She opened Math book and tried to solve math problems. I was tired and feeling sleepy. Binita sensed and arranged the bed for me to sleep. I just laid down on my bed. Also Binita felt tired and left her books on the floor and went to sleep.
In the morning, I heard a male voice. It was of her father asking Binita to wake up. For few minutes she ignored but not for long. She woke up, put the toothpaste on the toothbrush. Carried the unwashed utensils of the last night and went to the faraway tap. Her mom prepared the morning tea and served us. It took 45 minutes for Binita to do her morning rituals. By the time she came to the room it was 6:40 am. She hurriedly drank tea and got dressed to come to the school, as she had to attend the extra class.
Then I realized why my students don’t do their homework and don’t get time to study. The excuses that they said were not the excuses, it was their compulsion as situations made them do so. It takes an hour or more for most of my students to come to the school and the same time to return. For eights hours they spend their time in school and when they reach their home they have to do their house chores, so can you even think of when do they get time to study? It’s a challenge for them.
I wonder who has to blame for their condition? Is it the situations – if yes, till when we should blame it? Is it not time that the family members, communities, government, school and teachers take the share of the blame and work towards giving them the atmosphere where they could freely study without any fear of doing other activities? What to expect from our students when we are not giving them the environment to study?
The writer is an English Fellow from Teach For Nepal teaching at Shree Terse Secondary School, Talamarang, Sindhupalchowk.