Mountain Schools Initiative
In November 2014, an HEF team, local leader Malika Virdi and the Maati Women’s Collective met with a group of educators from remote villages in the Munsiyari region. Their schools are located well beyond the paved roads, in the shadow of Nanda Devi, the highest mountain in the Indian Himalayas.
These educators were representatives of both state and private primary and middle schools from the villages of Sarmoli, Madkot and Darkot.
All of the teachers in these communities share certain challenges: professional and personal isolation, low pay, limited resources, lack of internet access, and limited opportunities for professional training and advancement.
Many of their students come from families with challenging home environments given the struggling economy in this region.
Collaborating with the local educators and the Maati Women’s Collective, we support these isolated communities by strengthening their educational programs.
The Himalayan Education Foundation now provides funding for the Maati Women’s Collective to implement programmatic support for rural teacher and student enrichment programs known as the Mountain Schools Initiative. Among the schools included in the collaborative are the Sarmoli, Nayabasti and Darkot Primary School, and the GIC.
• Stem alienation of local youth from the rural mountain landscape and lifestyle
• Deepen a sense of place, ownership, and pride
• Educate in the outdoors through learning by doing and interactions with visiting subject specialists
• Build youth initiative and community
• Develop long-term prospects of alternative livelihood options
The Bird Festival
In May of 2015, students and teachers from the remote villages attended the Himal Kalasutra 2015 Bird Festival in Sarmoli. A Teachers’ enrichment session provided a special session with teachers on the issue of ‘Conservation Education’.
HEF provided financial support and travel assistance to bring these participants to the event.
Teacher and Student Workshops
Noted birder and the current chair of Green Peace India, Ashish Kothari, conducted sessions with the students and teachers along with a team of local leaders.
They included representatives from the mountain community of Munsyari, the Maati Womens’ Collective, and Himal Prakriti, a Trust for Nature.
Along with walking in the forests and watching birds, the leaders led discussions of issues of conservation and the challenges faced both locally and in the country at large.
The workshop leaders involved the teachers from Sarmoli, Nayabasti and Darkot Primary School, in the workshop to strengthen their role as educators.
This multi-school and multiple community partnership was the first event in what we hope will become a dynamic collaboration.