15 Year Legacy
A child without education is like a bird without wings. Tibetan Proverb
It is hard to know when a random act of kindness will take hold and fly. Mikey and Ali Church’s decision to forgo wedding gifts in exchange for donations to help start the Mikey Medium English School (MMES) in impoverished Far Western Nepal 15 years ago has grown exponentially into an accomplished and admired educational setting for some of the country’s most marginalized students, especially girls. In 2005 Mike was impressed that this school would be a grassroots endeavor. Since the inception of Grassroots Education Nepal (GEN) in 2010, our commitment to local decision making remains with the school community under guidance from GEN. For these reasons, MMES is still growing and is on track to a self-sustaining future. Your donation will accelerate the timeline to independence.
SIX REASONS TO CELEBRATE 15 YEARS OF GROWING GLOBAL CITIZENS AT THE MIKEY MEDIUM ENGLISH SCHOOL
In 2008 we had 48 boys and girls in kindergarten through Grade 3. Most of these students had never been to school and the teachers had never taught.
In 2023 we have 520 students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 8. Our first group is now completing secondary school, progressing into college programs and professional training programs. For example: two former students are teachers at MMES. One student is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in India and another will be attending college in the USA. Several of our alumni are students at the local Technology High School. Others are studying agriculture at the local college.
Lightking – studying in India for his Bachelor of Science degree leading to a medical degree
In 2008 MMES rented 4 tiny classrooms in a small concrete building. There was no electricity and only small windows. There was no bathroom. By 2010 we had 6 classrooms in a building constructed in the traditional manor of mud and lumber walls and a thatched roof which blew off in the monsoon season. We had one outhouse.
In 2023 we have 6 permanent buildings providing 20 classrooms which were built by MMES. The rooms are spacious with large windows and ceiling fans. Each building has indoor bathrooms. Classrooms display student projects and awards. Gradually they are being enhanced with new desks.
In 2008 we had no electricity, and no technology. Children copied a diagram of a keyboard from the board to learn about computers. Teachers rarely prepared lessons in advance. They taught from the texts only using a call and response model of instruction.
In 2023 we have electricity for ceiling fans, internet connectivity, computers, laptops, Chromebooks and Apple Mac minis. The students and teachers participate in Zoom sessions with others in the USA. Education is grounded in on project-based learning and a strong commitment to challenging curriculum in English.
In 2008 of the five teachers: only one had studied to be a primary teacher and only three spoke English. These “teachers” had a 10th grade education.
In 2023 we have 20 teachers, many with formal teacher education certification past high school. Most of them are accomplished in reading, writing and speaking English. We have 4 non-teaching staff supervising recess and maintaining clean classrooms and grounds.
In 2008 there were few opportunities for exposure to the world beyond Bauniya. Barbara and John Church were the first Americans to visit this region after Mike and his bicycle companions arrived in 2005.
By 2023, 16 English-speaking volunteers have lived with families and worked at MMES. The Church Family has made 8 journeys to teach classes and build school managerial capacity. Balraj Bhat, the current Principal, has been to the USA three times to learn new educational strategies. Many of the MMES teaching staff are members of NELTA (Nepali English Language Teachers Association) and receive ongoing professional development.
In 2008 the Principal of MMES had no experience in school management or teaching. The teachers welcomed the rare opportunities to learn new strategies.
In 2023 the Principal of MMES is highly regarded for his commitment to the education of all the children of the community. He envisions a place where children are safe and encouraged to learn through positive incentives. He fosters teacher development. He regularly submits rosters, budgets and instructional improvement plans to his parents, teachers, and the Grassroots Education Nepal Board of Directors.
Balraj Bhat and John Church at a GEN Board Meeting in the USA
Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.
Grassroots Education Nepal (GEN) is a not-for-profit organization established to help Mikey Medium English School (MMES) in Far Western Nepal achieve its dream: high-quality education for boys and girls, whether they come from families who can afford tuition or from those who are socially and economically marginalized.
GEN is guided by a 14-member Board of Directors focused on two major priorities: to ensure MMES has the means to educate as many impoverished children from the village of Bauniya as possible and to help put the school on a self-sustaining path. In the past five years, this goal became a reality with the construction of a larger school campus including three new buildings, supported financially by GEN. Prior to COVID-19, the school’s size helped make it financially possible for tuition to cover operating costs and some scholarships. While the school is still recovering from economic impact of COVID, GEN’s financial support helps keep the scholarship level at 50 students out of the total of 500.