Guernsey Supplementary Education Centre
In 2011 Learning for Life began working with our local partner, COSAN, to empower marginalised and impoverished women and girls in rural Nepal. As part of the project, which was established in conjunction with the UK Department for International Development (DfID) we established nineteen Supplementary Education Centres (SECs), in Makwanpur, rural Nepal, which provided education for marginalised children aged 8-14, who had either never attended school or had dropped out. The SECs prepared children to be reintegrated into the mainstream education system for secondary school. The project was extremely successful and was highly praised by DfID and other national and international agencies. However, as the project was drawing to a close and the management of the SECs was being taken over by the Community Action Groups (CAGs) established by the project the catastrophic 2015 earthquakes destroyed twelve of our SECs. These centres, that the communities had started to rely on and use as a focal point of community life, were reduced to rubble. Fortunately, none of the children enrolled in the SECs lost their lives and the emergency aid relief that LfL and COSAN provided minimised the devastating impact the earthquake had on these communities. However, there is still a great deal of reconstruction that needs to be done. Children are currently being educated in temporary shelters, which lack basic facilities and need to be rebuilt urgently, both to provide education for the children and a facility for the whole community.
What We Are Doing About It
With funding from the Guernsey Overseas Aid & Development Commission a new earthquake-resistant school building will be constructed. The new school will include two classrooms, a library, a community hall and toilet facilities (male, female and disabled). As well as providing books for the children, the library will also be a community resource centre, with educational materials raising awareness on rights, health, hygiene. The hall will be used for community events, training sessions and as an emergency shelter when necessary. The project will employ 20 workers from construction firms in Nepal that have adopted earthquake-resistant technologies, to share their expertise with local builders, and the entire community will receive education on disaster preparation at an organised event. The women’s Community Action Group established in our previous project will continue to manage the centre and advocate on its behalf, as they have been doing successfully since the project began. Once rebuilt the SEC will continue to serve as an education and community resource centre for many years to come.
One sustainable earthquake-resistant building is currently under construction. The land used for the building was donated by the local community and members of the local community were fully engaged in determining the site location and the construction process. We did experience a delay of two months starting the project due to local political disruption delaying the land registration process, but once that issue was resolved, construction began in earnest and there were no further setbacks. The project is confident that the school can still be completed by the end of April 2018 as planned.
The project has formed a Construction Committee from the local women-led Community Action Groups (CAG) and construction professionals. These groups will continue to be involved in the ongoing monitoring and management of the building maintenance and school management.
This school will be firmly embedded within the local community, and will be used not just for education during the day but also for other community activities outside of school hours. For example, it will be used as a safe meeting place for a local women-led co-operative which collects funds from members to provide small loans for livelihood activities.
Project staff have been liaising with potential students and their parents and have registered 38 children as potential pupils. It is likely that some pupils will drop out between now and the formal opening of the school but should all 38 wish to enrol we will be able to facilitate this.
Local builders are learning cost-effective earthquake-resistant building techniques. Great emphasis is also being placed on ensuring that sustainable materials and processes are used. The project is confident that the skills that local construction workers learned during this project will be transferrable to other local construction projects and development initiatives.
Project Partners & Sponsors