December 3, 2016:Â For the children of the remote reaches of the Karnali region, quality education is seldom a viable option. In a region that is bereft of basic infrastructures and is often struggling to meet everyday resources, education remains difficult and distant dream, even today. However, for the children of Dolpa District, that dream has fortunately been attainable for the past two decades.
The Tapriza Secondary School in the Shey Phoksundo National Park, with an enrolment of more than 200 students, trades adequate education for food. Running on the principles of a barter economy, at Tapriza, parents and guardians can pay for their childrenâ€™s schooling in certain amount of staple foods.
To be precise, the cost of a childâ€™s education in this residential school equals to 70 kg of rice, 10 kg of buckwheat flour, 10 kg of corn flour, and a nominal Rs 1,200 fee per year.
What also distinguishes this school from others in the region is its inclusion of â€˜culture as curriculum.â€™ Along with the regular courses and syllabus prescribed by the Nepal Government, the school offers extra English tutorials and courses in the local Kham language. The students also learn BonnÂ buddhist culture from a local monk at the school, which also employs 10 otherÂ residential government teachers.
The schoolâ€™s administration is run by Tapriza Association Social Help in Dolpa (TASHI-D) with funding from a Swiss and an American NGO, in collaboration with the Department of Education. A great working example of a public-private partnership, Tapriza has edified how innovation and enthusiasm can be channelled for social change, despite limiting circumstances. These are the snapshots I made of the school on a visit earlier this year.
By Kaushal Sapkota
The writerÂ is a Kathmandu-based freelance photographer. His photographs can be sampled at www.kaushalsapkota.com