How is technology transforming the Nepali government schools? The story of OLE Nepal

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Open Learning Exchange Nepal (OLE Nepal) is a benefit organization focused on providing free online education in the schools of rural villages. Established in 2007 it has spread its service in 225 schools over 34 districts. OLE Nepal partnered with Nepal’s Department of Education to launch laptop-based integrated learning initiative in 2008, and has gradually expanded its programme. It has designed and developed digital learning materials; trained teachers to use technology and digital content effectively to enhance student learning; installed appropriate infrastructure in schools to enable learning using technology; and built local capacity and raised awareness about using technology to improve learning.

It all started with an idea among four friends to provide education service in a different way. But it was not only about an idea but making that idea happen. Executive Director of OLE Nepal Mr. Ravi Karmacharya, who was working in a software company named Himalayan Techies thought of utilizing his skills with his friends Bryan Berry, Saurav Dev Bhatta and Upni Sharma. To get support for their idea, they went from door to door convincing people and companies. Many companies rejected their proposal and some even said, “There is no stable political system, neither proper supply of food and electricity in the rural areas. Do you think your idea will work?” And the only answer they gave was, “Peace, Food, and Electricity are equally important, but we don’t need to wait until there is peace. We don’t need to wait until the electricity reaches their homes.”

Using laptops in classroom

Finally, while wandering from door to door, the Embassy of Denmark accepted their idea and provided support for it. The year 2007 was an experimental year for them so they started-off the project with one of the schools in Lalitpur. In 2008, they came up with the idea of laptop based integrated learning where the children can learn from laptop known as E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya. It is not about scanning books, it is about providing offline access to the educational resources including over 7500 e-books, thousands of educational videos and learning software modules, reference materials such as Wikipedia, interactive maps, etc.

E-Paath​ is a collection of education-centered digital learning activities that are aligned with the national curricula. These subject and grade specific learning contents are distributed free of charge. The interactive materials are designed to OLE Nepal Organization Profile engage students, and make learning fun and meaningful. Its contents have been approved by the Curriculum Development Center of Nepal’s Ministry of Education whereas  E-Pustakalaya provides free and open access to thousands of e-books, educational videos, audio books, reference materials, learning software etc. This digital library provides an easy way to distribute a wide range of digital resources to schools and learning centers across the country. The digital library can be accessed online at www.pustakalaya.org.

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Their team of educators, designers and programmers work together to create interactive digital content on various subjects such as Mathematics, Science, and English. They turn ideas and concepts into interactive lessons and activities that can run on any platform that supports web browsers and mobile devices.

Focusing on low-power, low-cost, durable equipment, and suitable for various locations, they import the laptops from the USA. In a single school, each child has their own computer so that they can learn at their own pace. They have a main computer which includes all the files of E-Paath and E-pustakalaya and with the help of Local Area Network(LAN), they connect with all the other computers.

They have also developed training packages to enable teachers and resource persons to apply technology tools and digital content to enhance the teaching-learning process. Instead of providing a one-off training, they work with teachers over many months, delivering training and support in various stages so that the teachers can gradually build both the skills and confidence needed to successfully apply technology in classroom settings.

Started with just four team members, OLE Nepal has now grown to a 20-member team. Added to this, the organization also provides internship and volunteering opportunities to the youths who are interested to be a part of the movement.

By Suweksha Shrestha