With schools being closed due to the spread of COVID-19, alternative teaching methods are the only option to continue students’ learning. In September 2020, UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme in Nepal organized a training session to enhance teachers’ ICT tools skill and to guide them on how to deliver lessons through online platforms, as well as via radio and TV.
“These alternative teaching and learning methods are useful in this situation with the COVID-19 crisis; we teachers need to be familiar with these methods so we can provide education to our pupils in any situation,” said Prem Narayan Bhandari, a teacher from Shree Resunga Secondary School, Gulmi, one of the 155 participants, a third of whom were women, who completed the 5-day training and received a certificate.
The effectiveness of distance education largely depends on the facilitation of teachers. The importance of tackling teachers’ capacity gaps on distance teaching was one of the identified challenges that came out of UNESCO-led consultations carried out in the context of the UN’s framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19.
Prior to the training, CapED provided technical assistance to the Centre for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD) to develop teacher and parent guidelines on facilitating remote learning. This guideline, which the Government has adopted, has been the basis for CapED’s teacher-training.
The teachers who participated in the event were selected based on their diverse geographical locations to ensure Nepal’s districts were well represented. Since so many teachers were interested in the training, UNESCO expanded the initiative to benefit more teachers than initially planned. However, there are still many teachers who would like to benefit from this type of training.
“It’s [distance teaching] one of the best ways to facilitate the students not only in the pandemic period but also in our regular classes. It’s an economical and effective way to engage students and develop their creativity. This training provided us with new pedagogical skills. However, I think the training should be provided to all, at least the secondary level teachers,” said Shyam Sundar Parajuli, a teacher at Himalaya Secondary School in Banepa.
Feedback gathered after the sessions showed that participants are motivated to learn and develop their skills and that they consider the training to be highly beneficial. Participants suggested that focus also needs to be on parents and how they can best support their children’s learning at home during the pandemic.
The training was one of the several activities organized by UNESCO, through CapED, in response to COVID-19 in collaboration with CEHRD, the Confederation of Nepali Teachers, and the Women Teacher’s Society. To support the continuation of learning, CapED has also helped launch an educational radio programme – Radio Pathshala – in May 2020. In collaboration with the Government and Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal through its 200 radio stations, the programme is now covering 77 districts throughout Nepal.