Agreement between ISDRI Nepal and highly marginalized Chepang community school

A three-point agreement has been signed between ISDRI Nepal and Sayapatri Primary School based in Dandagaun of Aanbukhaireni Village Council – 6, Tanahun district, to appoint teacher for the school from Chepang community. Volunteer Margrit Leuenberger, at her personal initiative, has established a project titled ‘Direkthilfe in Nepal – Highly Marginalised Indigenous Ethnic Community School Support Program’ to collect fund for hiring Chepang language based teacher.

 Chepang community is highly marginalised ethnic community and is at the brink of extinction. Nepal government has not been able to take necessary steps to protect this community and provide basic needs for this community. This community has its own language, culture and lifestyle. Most of the people from Chepang community have been deprived of school education. Now it is really important to make the members of this community literate. For this, it is vital to create an environment to ensure the Chepang community children’s access to school. With the support from Margrit Leuenberger and her friends, ISDRI Nepal has been making endeavors to give lease of life to the school as part of its education initiatives in a small Chepang village. Margrit is the chief of Switzerland-based organization, ‘Nepal Mit Genuss.’ She is also associated with several welfare works. She has shown interests to spread educational awareness in Chepang settlements of Dandagaun. She has not expressed her willingness to not only appoint native speaker of Chepang language but also to make arrangement for providing salary to the teachers continuously. In order to turn her dream into reality, her friends have open heartedly shown readiness to support. They are spontaneously enthusiastic to raise the fund.
In the initial phase, a local of Dandagaun, Mangal Chepang, was appointed as teacher with an agreement to provide a monthly salary of Rs 7,000. Thirty-two-year-old Mangal had studied up to only grade 10. He has won the hearts of school family and the community because of his contribution to the school as a teacher during the establishment year of the school. But the district education office made him inactive citing lack of minimum education according to the government rule. According to Teachers’ Service Regulations, one should have completed grade 12 in Education faculty and has to have teaching license to become eligible for teaching. Even before the formal establishment of the school, Mangal had served as a teacher for four years since 2007 when the school got permission to run class one for a meagerly minimum salary. Mangal Chepang was unanimously appointed as the teacher because he was from the Chepang community, had a teaching experience and no one in the village was as qualified as him.
“In the current context, though my salary is less than a basic minimum monthly earning of a labor, I am grateful to those people and the organizations because of whose support I got the opportunity to teach in the school again,” said Mangal, expressing his happiness. “Along side the responsibility to make the Chepang students literate, we have additional challenges to think about non-Chepang students of the school. My commitment to accept the teaching service as volunteering is the indicator of my success.”
This past 18th May an agreement was signed between by Chairperson Sukmaya Chepang on behalf of Sayapatri Primary School and Mohan Gyawali, on behalf of ISDRI Nepal.
In a speech after signing the agreement, Sukmaya Chepang underlined the need to improve the physical infrastructure of the school. She shared the school’s obligation to teach the students up to grade 5 in only three classrooms. She urged the organization to extend support in view of the students’ need for dress and stationery. Sukmaya added that, though arrangements have been made for the students’ school uniforms, their guardian have not been able to buy alternatives clothes. It has not been long enough since the Chepangs began to adopt outside life leaving behind their nomadic forest life. They are still living by eating forest fruits. Along with lack of knowledge about agriculture profession, they have a strong faith in forest foods. The slopes and meadows nearby forest are still their major choice. That’s why they have been deprived of education. They have been slowly realizing the importance of education today’s world.
As a result, some of the Chepang leaders have come in contact with ISDRI Nepal. With the initiatives of Chairman Mohan Gyawali, local leader Sukmaya Chepang has connection with the organisaiton. Ironically, there has not been expected outcome from the school, established and run by Chepang community, because of language problem. There is a situation whereby the children have to be taught by teachers from other community. Considering this fact, there was an indispensable need to bring in at least one teacher from Chepang background. It will always be a challenge to increase the capacity of children without a teacher who speaks their mother language. Realizing this factor, Mangal Chepang from the local community had been appointed through private resource. “The appointment of a Chepang teacher has been highly beneficial,” said social leader and committee chairperson Sukmaya Chepang, heaving a sigh of relief. “It will not only make the future of our children brighter but now there are rooms for us to feel proud ourselves. We are always indebted to the supportive person and organization.”