Author: tristan@astdesign.co.uk

Nidup Dorji – Making positive change in Bhutan

Nidup Dorji

Making positive change in Bhutan

When I met with Nidup at Ashoka University, one of his friends sat down with us and said ‘This guy is going to change Bhutan, you’ll see’. What a wonderful moment, when the words you need to describe someone are handed to you in such an honest and genuine way. It also made me smile, because I have no doubt that it is true.

If you have been a follower of Pestalozzi’s work over the last few years, it’s likely you will have heard Nidup’s name before or have read something about him. The things he has achieved in such a short space of time are nothing short of inspirational.

Nidup comes from a small village in Bhutan where he grew up with his parents, who are both farmers and unfortunately never got to complete their education. Despite this, he strived to study and they encouraged this by sending him to live with his uncle, which allowed him to attend a school on the other side of the country with better educational resources.

In 2016, Nidup was selected for our programme and commenced two years of study in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. After completing his A Levels, he returned to Bhutan for a gap year before being awarded a full scholarship place at Ashoka University, a new yet prestigious Liberal Arts institution in India.

The time spent during his gap year was selfless, rooted in purpose and serving others. After raising £500 in the UK, an initiative that affectionately became known as ‘The Bog Project’ was born. With no toilet facilities having ever been available in his village, Nidup worked tirelessly for three months, alongside his father, a group of monks and villagers, to build a block consisting of four toilets and two basins. He also taught English to the local monks, some of whom had only completed a small amount of schooling and others who had never been educated.

‘English is important for them. There is a western influence in Bhutan, so it’s important for them to learn and to read’. He used his own money to buy books, trying to engage them with comics and graphic novels. He also taught guitar, played football with them and ran singing sessions, teaching ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles, the first song he learnt at Pestalozzi.

‘When you teach you learn more about yourself. I felt happy, because I was trying to share what I had learned with them. Having seen more of the world, I wanted to share that with them too. Learning is not just about school. Pestalozzi has changed the way I see the world. Before I had a fixed mindset, but now I have a growth mind-set and want to take on new challenges. If it wasn’t for Pestalozzi I wouldn’t be where I am today’.

One thing Nidup said that really struck a chord with me was simply – ‘How can I pass on what I learn?’

‘I hope donors can see the differences they are making in our lives by investing in education. If they continue to donate they will be helping students like me from underprivileged backgrounds to pursue further education, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible for many of us.’

For the moment, Nidup’s focus is centred around his Computer Science degree, which he commenced in 2019. His future plans outside of academia are to develop a library for the monks he has been working with, as well as to have read fifty books by the end of the year.

Watching Nidup’s interaction with the people around him at Ashoka made me so proud to know him. His ability to connect and engage is unique and acts as a reminder for people to strive to be better. What a powerful skill to have mastered. For the friend who said ‘this guy is going to change Bhutan’, my response would be, that with the toilet block, the English classes, the guitar lessons and an unfathomable amount of kindness, he already has.

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Please Donate

and help young people to make a difference in the world

Bloom Nepal Win Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020

Bloom Nepal Win Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020

Bloom Nepal is not like any other school I have encountered before. I had known it would be a special place, but as soon as I arrived, it provoked a particular kind of feeling in me that I wasn’t prepared for. The atmosphere is one created with such deliberate intention. The teachers pride themselves on passion based education, which underpins the way the curriculum is taught and is held at the heart of everything within the school. The students, who hail from over 55 different districts, are encouraged to thrive within their talents and interests, no matter what these are.
The school was built by Pestalozzi alumni Ram Rijal, who graduated from MIT in 2012. He returned home to Nepal to establish the school with the help of several like-minded friends and since then they have seen a number of Pestalozzi alumni come through their doors in a variety of voluntary roles.
Whilst Ram is currently in Germany undertaking his Masters in Mathematics, Pestalozzi alumni Chandan Mishra has taken on the role of Executive Director of the school. Alongside this demanding position, he is also the Managing Director of the Telford Institute and Engineering Services, which he set up after graduating with a Civil Engineering degree from NYU Abu Dhabi. Perhaps it is the wealth of knowledge from so many different experiences that has made Chandan so effective in this post so far.

Just three weeks ago, under his leadership the school was awarded the 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize in the Global High Schools in South Asia category . The money from this prize will be used to set up a bio-gas plant, which will be used to generate energy from organic waste. This will be used to meet the needs of the school kitchen and the by-product will go to farmers in the local area to help raise their awareness of sustainable practices. Whilst the winning of this prize is an incredible achievement in itself, perhaps even more impressively is that Chandan designed the plant himself.

Things seem to only be going from strength to strength. When the school was created in 2013 they had only 17 pupils enrolled. Fast forward to the present day and they now teach more than 600 students and were at full capacity immediately upon opening their second school in Itahari. Bloom’s first school building collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, but the possibility of sending students home was not an option because of the destruction of the roads and so students slept and were taught in tents whilst the team searched for a new location. This resilience shows true testimony to the characters of all who have been involved in the school.

Whilst personally for Ram, Chandan and Chandra, the success of Bloom is a fantastic achievement, it is also a nod towards the instrumental role that several Pestalozzi alumni have played in volunteering within the school the school, not only as teachers or working in pastoral care after school, but also in donating books to the school’s library.

‘Pestalozzi alumni have been amazing at Bloom. They understand what we are striving to do here and are very helpful. The kids love them too’.

I was also curious to ask Chandan about whether it had been difficult to make the decision to give up the prospect of a lucrative career, after four years spent studying engineering. He told me, ‘I wanted to give returning to Nepal and also working in education a shot. Luxury can be difficult to give up. I do of course realise things are not as developed here in Nepal, we don’t have good roads or good transportation, but the beauty is in trying to bring about the change in those sectors. At the end of the day, this is our home, it will always be a part of my identity and so if I don’t work towards setting things right here then no one else will.’

It also seems that, with a degree in Civil Engineering, education hadn’t been on the cards as a possible career option. ‘I decided to first set up my own engineering firm because the practices in many firms in Nepal are very conventional. They haven’t moved with time and technology and so I wanted to promote this through my training. But I also wanted to be an educator in order to reciprocate the good educational opportunities I had received at various stages in my life.’

At Bloom, they welcome students into a community of respect and embracing diversity, as well as honour and competence playing key roles in the schools culture. Chandan told me that Pestalozzi had been instrumental in influencing the culture of the school and shaping their learning model to be what it is today.

‘A major part of the learning at Bloom takes place before nine and after five within the student’s residential setting. Our education is based on head, heart and hands and students from humble economic backgrounds are able to attend the school on scholarships. At Pestalozzi we saw the benefits of a multicultural environment; so many of the major conflicts in the world today are because of this, so we’re trying to tackle it at a young age. Nepal cannot always be a developing country – we must develop education for good leaders, in order to make the right framework down the line. Our generation can find the solutions’.

It is clear Chandan leads the school by example in the way he interacts with both the students and the staff. As I see him go about his day and talk with him at various intervals, it is clear that his accomplishments as both an educator and an engineer seem to know no bounds.

Over the next few years, Bloom aims to have one residential school in each of the seven provinces. With two down and five to go, I wonder what else will be next for them and it seems possibilities are wide open when the organisation is led by individuals so clearly invested in challenging and improving the education system of their country.

Often the moments that move us most are the ones we can close our eyes and still sense with such clarity and my time at Bloom Nepal did that for me. I spent only a day visiting the school and wished I could have been there for a month. Their efforts to challenge the status quo and find new and effective ways of making education accessible are ground-breaking and humbling to witness. Bloom is paving the way for a new style of schooling in Nepal and the developments we are going to see from them over the next few months will be nothing short of extraordinary, just like the people who run the school.

It is amazing the impact that one afternoon can have on a person and I am grateful to have stood at the side-lines and been able to marvel at the endeavours of a group of young leaders to change the face of education in a country.

Nancy Anderson

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Please Donate

and help young people to make a difference in the world

Educational support in Nepal during COVID-19

Educational support in Nepal during COVID-19

Those who follow our social media will probably already know a bit about alumni Ram Rijal, Chandan Mishra and Chandra Bhandari (Bloom Nepal School and Bloom ED) who have been involved in the education sector in Nepal for some time. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on education has been vast across the globe, with institutions being closed down and the majority of teaching moved online. Offering this sort of learning has its own challenges, particularly in developing countries, where many students are in remote locations or do not have the resources or facilities available to continue their education in this way.

Alumnus Ram explained:

‘Education has been hit hard in Nepal. The government acted early and closed all schools about fifteen days before the scheduled year end on March 25. Major national examinations, including secondary education examinations (SEE) and School Leaving Certificates (SLC) were cancelled. These are high stake exams taken by about 850,000 students annually.

The new academic year should have started on April 15, however the country has been subjected to a complete lockdown, resulting in severe implications for continued learning. With the exception of a few schools based in prominent towns, who can afford to implement the technology to teach online, the vast majority have failed to offer learning options. Consequently, children remain out of school for now, and it is uncertain when learning can resume.

In these uncertain times, Bloom Nepal School has stepped forward with online classes. We have opened our online classes to all students across the country. Likewise, BloomED has addressed the needs of SEE students to access high-quality solutions to all past papers. The portal, which has been partly funded by the Pestalozzi Development Fund, serves as an intelligent system that can help learners achieve high scores in their final exams. More than 1000 students are already using the system.

Due to the high costs and scant availability of reliable internet in non-urban settings, it has been very tough to engage students fully in the teaching-learning process. The school has reached out to parents to discuss concerns and make learning as available as possible through the provision of offline materials. BloomED, on the other hand, has continued to reach out to more users through the use of social media and also through upgrading the content of the website to best fit the need of learners.’

We are impressed by the efforts of our alumni from Nepal in continuing to offer educational opportunities to as many students as possible in such challenging circumstances, as they themselves know the transformational impact of education.

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Please Donate

so we can continue to support young people like Ram

Pestalozzi is asking for nominations to win £1,000 ‘Movement for Good’ award

Pestalozzi’s chance to win £1000

Pestalozzi is asking for nominations to win £1,000 ‘Movement for Good’ award.

It’s quick and easy to nominate us online. Nominations are open until Sunday 24th May and you can vote for us online at movementforgood.com using our charity number 1098422 and entering your details.

Winners will be drawn at random and the more times Pestalozzi is nominated the more chance we have of being selected.

Pestalozzi is encouraging everyone to use their social media channels to ask people to vote for them to give the charity the best possible chance of winning.

Mark Hews, Group CEO of Ecclesiastical, says:

“We’re delighted to announce the launch of Ecclesiastical’s Movement for Good awards for the second year running. The coronavirus is having a major impact on charities and many are facing financial difficulties. Our Movement for Good awards will continue to help charities at a time when they need it most and we know that for many charities, £1,000 can make a real difference.

“We were thrilled to receive so many nominations from the public last year and this year we are encouraging even more people to nominate a good cause. Ecclesiastical is a unique financial services group. We are owned by a charity which means all available profits can be given to the good causes that are so important to our customers. As a company whose purpose is to contribute to the greater good of society, charitable giving is at the heart of our business.”

Thank you.

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Help young people to make a difference in the world

Donate to Pestalozzi

Pestalozzi alumnus wins prestigious University fellowship

Pestalozzi alumnus wins prestigious University fellowship

igyan Babu Regmi, a Pestalozzi alumnus from Nepal has been awarded a prestigious fellowship to study at the Yenching Academy of Peking University.

This Autumn Bigyan is due to head to Beijing to pursue a Master’s in China Studies with a focus on Economics. Bigyan commented – ‘During my time in Beijing, I hope to develop a nuanced understanding of China, to realize in-depth its interaction with the rest of the world, and garner competencies to contribute to Sino-Nepal relations.’

The University aims to build bridges between China and the rest of the world through its masters programme in China Studies. The Academy’s aim is to shape new generations of global citizens and bring together young people who have demonstrated a talent for leadership and innovation.

Bigyan, who graduated from Pestalozzi in 2016, is currently an economics major at Duke University in the US. He has achieved many things in his time there, including leading the TedXDuke group that organizes the annual TEDX conference at the university, co-founding an organization in Uganda to provide vocational training to unemployed women and moderating a global goals conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

He has always had high ambitions and a drive to bring about positive change in his home country of Nepal. He plans to do this by pursuing a career in policy making. We wish Bigyan all the best for his time in Beijing and congratulate him on all his achievements to date.

Student Selection, Alumni Liaison and Development Fund Manager recalls interviewing Bigyan in 2013, ‘Bigyan made an incredibly positive impression from the outset of the selection process. He was thoughtful, insightful and engaging and definitely had that special quality that we look for in Pestalozzi scholars.’

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Bigyan’s successes wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our donors so please

Donate

Tobgay’s Gap Year Project

Tobgay’s Gap Year Project

Having gained A level grades of Maths A, Physics B and Chemistry B Kinzang Tobgay recently returned to Bhutan for a gap year. Here he tells us about what he has been up to since arriving home.

Bhutan Fablab launched a program to distribute a new modular computer called Pi-top in the four districts of Bhutan, one of them happened to be my hometown, Gelephu. It’s a computer with infinite possibility, using python as its programming language. The youth centre which was tasked with training young people in this technology was desperately in need of trainers so I gladly volunteered to help.
The first two weeks were full of creativity and experimentation. Myself and a couple of other trainers sat down and explored this new technology. We explored various projects and communicated our creativity with one another. It was filled with “ahh” moments as we finally understood the mechanism behind the technology, but more importantly we built a talking robot with an ultrasonic radar. This was truly a platform for creativity as we experimented and came up with an ingenious combination of inventions.
The following two weeks brought a wave of enthusiastic students ranging from high school to primary school age. Each trainer was tasked with 4 or 5 students to train and teach. It posed a challenge as each student had a different temperament and needless to say aptitude to learn. It provided a space for honing ones communication skills as we shared our new found knowledge.

However, the highlight was taking part in the innovation challenge which was put forward by the Fablab. Each district were to put forward a detailed project plan that would bring positive difference to our nation using the Pi-top. As the other trainers could not commit themselves to this challenge, I formed a team with another trainer and stood up to take the challenge. Several weeks passed as we came up with a number of ideas which were then scrapped. On the third week, we had a eureka moment to reconfigure the parking system in Bhutan. We would establish waiter bots, and use smart street lamps, effectively making what we describe as Efficient and Inclusive Community (EIC).
We wish Tobgay all the best for the rest of his gap year. Tobgay will be applying for scholarships to continue his studies at university next year.

Newsletter signup

Sign up to recieve the Pestalozzi eNews every two months via email:

Request a printed version here


Please Donate

and help young people to make a difference in the world

Fundraising Regulator
T: 01424 870444     office@pestalozzi.org.uk
Pestalozzi International Foundation, Philips House, Drury Lane, St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex  TN38 9BA
Registered Charity 1‌098422. A company limited by Guarantee 0‌4797376. Incorporated in England and Wales.
Fundraising Regulator
All material on this website is copyright© Pestalozzi International Foundation all rights reserved. Designed and produced by a|s|t marketing, design & consulting.