The Sapana School is located in the village of the Tharu people, the indigenous tribe of Chitwan. This is an ethnic group with its own culture: their own language, religious beliefs, their own festivals and way of decorating their houses. When the jungle in which they lived changed into a National Park and partly developed into farmland, Tharu people had to move and adapt their way of living.
The area of Chitwan, 2.218 km2 and about 500.000 inhabitants, consists of several small villages. Around 45% of the women are illiterate. Only 30% of the children of the lowest casts are going to school.
The quality of education is difficult, with classes up to 80 children. Parents who can afford it sometimes send their children to a boarding school in Pokhara or Kathmandu.
The school system in Nepal at this moment is a frontal and authoritarian system in which many pupils loose interest in learning, especially when their help is needed by their parents in the fields. To keep the attention of the children for their primary education we want to offer them a system of co-operative learning in which they develop their skills, insights and attitudes in a democratic way. We want to join forces of parents, tutors, teachers and school board to form an educational climate of acceptance and insight of the effects of this meaning full way of learning.
The environment of Sapana Village is characterized by farmland and tourism industry. The area offers many possibilities. Yet, many young people are unemployed and not prepared for skilled labour. In particular, this involves young people from underprivileged families. Attending a secondary school is really difficult because of lack of primary education and/or secondary education is too expensive. Some young people are going to find work abroad and leave their families behind.
A bit of history:
Until 1951, the borders were closed to normal travelers. Foreigners were only admitted to enter this country when they were invited to do so. The king and his family lived prosperous and they decided what was going to happen.
In 1952, the king of Nepal, who loved to go hunting, decided to close a part of the forest for ordinary people and the trees in a different parts of the jungle were cut. Then, he could invite his royal guests to go hunting there. This ground was divided in small lots and given to the Tharu people as a payment for the rest of the jungle. Do you recall who the Tharu are?
Right! The original inhabitants of the Terai, in the southern part of Nepal. They used to be a tribe of hunter-gatherers. By decision of the king, they were chased away from their natural territory where they always had had enough food by hunting animals and collecting and preparing eatable plants in the woods. They had not learned to till the ground and to grow eatable crops. They built their huts on a part of the lot and sold the rest of the land to get money to buy food. Now, they work as farmer hands or as stone and wood carriers or in construction companies and all of this for small day wages, very little money.