Today I will outline the details of activities and the exams for the 2017/2018 winter period.
First, sad news: one of the Shree Shelri Drugdra School students died in an avalanche. It is the 5th grade student Sonam. I remember him very well from my visit in April 2018. We all pray for his deceased soul, may his soul rest in peace.
He was a very popular student and boy in the village. The parents are very sad and miss him. They came to school almost every day and mourned him.
As extracurricular activities, the teachers carried out class essays for the older students in three different languages. Various activities were planned for the advanced students, such as reading and listening to stories, simple composition and dictation as well as group tasks. Tibetan teachers often gave lectures on the history of Dolpa-pa and its local tradition, religion, and culture, and taught and explained the importance of prayers that students recited every morning and evening. In addition, new students were introduced to activities such as singing nursery rhymes in three different languages and other games.
In order to analyze and evaluate the progress of the students, the teachers conduct an exam at the end of each winter session. The questionnaires are usually placed outside the text of textbooks asking students to respond in their own words. This approach means that teachers can better assess each student’s current skills and capacities. The students had a good result in the 2018/19 winter session. The other interesting result observed was less variability between student performance within the group. This could be because all the students were from the Saldang school, unlike previous years when one or the other student attended the winter session from neighboring schools. One reason is that the HUMAN Foundation is now supporting the new winter school in the village of Nyisal, five hours from Saldang. Both the teachers and the school coordinator believe that Saldang’s students are making good progress year after year.
The work of winter school management
From the 2017/2018 winter session, both the winter and summer class coordinator, Mr. Karma Dhondup Lama, and Mr. Pema Wangyal decided to organize the winter session together. Karma Dhondup is involved in managing and monitoring part of the winter period. Pema Wangyal is more involved in communication with the government, sponsor and paperwork. The financial part is handled by Karma Dhondup, both with regard to the preparation of the budget and the division of the fund into various expense reports.
The villagers’ contribution to the winter school
Unlike the previous winter sessions, this time the students’ groceries were provided by the parents of each student who attended the winter session, rather than the school administration buying them separately. The parents were later compensated for the food they had delivered to their children during the winter session at a nominal market price. In addition, the parents of each student contributed to the winter school by providing 50 kg of dung / firewood.
The list of foods collected by the parents of individual students was as follows:
1. Firewood / manure – 50 kg per pupil
2. Rice – 15 kg per pupil
3. Wheat flour – 15 kg per pupil
4. Salt – 1 kg per pupil
5. Chilly-1/2 kg per pupil
6. Oil – 3 liters per pupil
7. Lentil – 3 kg per pupil
We spent approximately $ 6,500.00 on school operations, including food and school supplies. We also paid additional funding for coaching and some construction costs that were approximately $ 1,500.00.
The 2019/2020 winter school session is running smoothly. To get a brief impression of the harsh winter months in Saldang, watch a small video of how people have to “clear” the snow between the houses in the upper and lower part of the village.
In Saldang and other villages in Upper Dolpo life in winter is extremely hard. However, about 70% of people stay in the village with most children, while others go to lower areas with their yaks or for other reasons.