Transforming lives on four continents

Teaching children to play in Nepali schools

A new way of teaching Nepal’s children is making its way into Kathmandu’s schools thanks to the increasing popularity of an early education programme.

Cynthia Chadwell outside of Early Childhood Education Centre building
Imagine taking an exam at two years old. Your parents have paid the exam fee and you are instructed to draw the flower in the pot sitting before you. Unfortunately, you cannot produce a good enough replica, so you fail.


Children in a traditional classroom, before ECEC training implemented Imagine having to sit in the same place for almost an entire school day, in some cases wearing your bag from beginning to end. Your days involve little to no play time and if you do not have an hour’s worth of homework every night, your parents think your school is not good and might move you to another one.


Would your two year old want to go to a school like this one? Probably not. Educational practices and settings like these are what BMS World Mission worker, Cynthia Chadwell, and the Early Childhood Education Centre (ECEC) in Kathmandu, Nepal, are trying to change.


Cynthia teaching Incy Wincy Spider song to ECEC classCynthia has been working with ECEC for the last seven years and wears many hats for the organisation. She is a music teacher, administrator and organiser of classroom visits and reflection assignments. At the end of February, she was a proud staff member who watched 26 Nepali students graduate from ECEC’s yearlong course. “The most amazing thing to see is how much they grow in confidence, both professionally and personally,” says Cynthia.


When these students graduate, they leave with a different perspective on education and a certification accredited by Kathmandu University. They are also in high demand. Parents want their children in schools who have adopted the new practices. However, this transition did not happen overnight.


Cynthia tells the story of Genuine Secondary English School in Kathmandu, where the students and parents experienced the transition in teaching practices. Once the changes occurred, young children stopped going home with hours of work, playtime was added to the school day and the curriculum slowed to account for the students’ ages. However, parents did not like the fact that their two and three year olds could not read after the first few weeks of school and withdrew their children.


Class taught by teacher who has completed ECEC trainingThen the most interesting thing happened. Their children began to cry and beg to go to school, even on Saturdays and when they were sick. Parents quickly realised that their little ones actually wanted to spend their days learning in this new way. So now enrolment is high and parents seek out schools, like Genuine Secondary English School, whose teachers have taken a course with ECEC.


With enrolment for this year’s class at 35 and counting, the staff are very encouraged. They are rearranging the schedule to accommodate the increase in students and to cover the sometimes distant classrooms for observations.


“One of the things that we tell them is that us giving training isn’t going to change anything,” says Cynthia. “The only way things will change is when people take what they’ve learned in the training and apply it in their classes.”  


Please pray for the newly enrolled students who started their ECEC studies on 3 March and the teaching and administrative staff who are working to accommodate this bigger class.



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