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NEW VIEW

Anthroposophical journal (UK) Summer 2014


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STEINER-WALDORF EDUCATION IN NEPAL
Eric K.Fairman
Worldwide over 1,000 Steiner-Waldorf Schools and more and more schools in
international areas of conflict and deprivation are the proud balance of an
international school movement. However, especially in developing and newly
industrialised countries, Steiner-Waldorf initiatives which are struggling for their
day-to-day existence, need support. Ultimately, these are the organisations which
often enable disadvantaged children and youth to find access to better and more
humane educational opportunities.
Friends of Waldorf Education
Freunde der Erziehungskunst Rudolf Steiners e.V
Waldorf One World (WOW)-Day: Engagement for a better World

For Steiner-Waldorf education to make any impression upon entrenched and archaic
views on how a child should be educated, requires that there be Master Teachers
available to venture forth from the comfort zones of their schools and neighbourhoods
into the challenging environments of the mean streets of the industrialized world; to the
favelas of Brazil; the war-torn regions of Africa or to the remote parts of the Indian
Continent, such as Nepal, Listed amongst the Worlds poorest Third World countries,
the average daily income in Nepal for the majority of the population does not exceed
Euro 1 (or most Euro 2) per day, or in local currency, Rs130 260 per day. Just enough
to feed the family the daily meal of dhal-bhat (rice and vegetable, with a thin lentil
gruel). There is little, if any, money left for a childs education.

It is in such struggling communities that there is an emerging interest in Steiner-Waldorf
education. A search by educators for something new, something child centred to replace
the archaic educational methodology inherited from the British Raj of Victorian times
and still adhering to such child abusive methods of teaching through ROTE learning
enforced with the bamboo cane or other physical or psychological abuse.

The requirement for teachers to be formally trained or to hold a teaching qualification is
not viewed as a necessary prerequisite for standing in front of a class of impressionable
students. Teachers rely solely on their own experiences gleaned from their own years in
the classroom and dutifully replicate the methodology that they are familiar with. This
means that generally speaking, teachers have no idea of how to create a vibrant learning
environment that encourages student participation in an active and creative learning
process. Lecturing and memorization is the universally accepted norm.
2.

The role of education in Nepal is to prepare students for the national examinations that
are a pre-requisite for further study. The teachers role is therefore to continually
enforce the drill and practice mode of learning. The memorization and regurgitation
of facts is the sole aim of education in Nepal so as to ensure a good pass mark for
further learning in the same style. The end result is that students have paper
qualifications, but scant knowledge of how to apply, let alone understand, what they
have so diligently learnt, to the solving of problems.

The majority of schools (private businesses generally) use the English language as the
medium of instruction, as it is the accepted international language for business and trade
in Nepal. On the surface, this would appear to be good, sound judgement. But closer
examination reveals that the teachers are far from being fluent in English themselves,
having only a very basic knowledge of the language and frequently with very
questionable pronunciation. The obvious outcome is that students have little
opportunity to expand their own knowledge of English, let alone develop far enough to
be able to fully comprehend what they are reading and learning!

Nepal has a population of approximately 30 million, with the majority living in abject
poverty, children dying from malnutrition and illiteracy at over 50%, it is glaringly
obvious that there is a crying need for some meaningful help in the form of educational
reform, especially when children as young as 3 years old are already being exposed to
unrelenting pressure to succeed in school, even to the extent of having termly tests.

In an educational environment such as this, there is an enormous need for a change of
direction. A need for new ideas and approaches to education, not least in creating a more
child-centred learning environment. Steiner-Waldorf educational philosophy and
methodology has a lot to offer in this area.

I am a long-retired Steiner-Waldorf teacher having had the honour of teaching in schools
in the UK, Canada and Australia (and as an itinerant teacher for one year in the US and
NZ). Despite retirement, I wish to continue promoting Steiner-Waldorf education
wherever I happen to be. In this instance, that where is Nepal where I have been a
regular visitor for the past 4 years, involving myself in a variety of voluntary social
activities, including education. (see: References) Most recently I joined forces with several
Steiner-Waldorf and aspiring Steiner-Waldorf teachers in Nepal, to make the educational
methodology more widely known and accessible.





3.

In 2010, it was requested of me to look at the Nepali Department of Educations Nepali
Early Childhood Curriculum and the Nepali Primary School Curriculum with a
view to integrating them with the generally accepted Steiner-Waldorf early childhood
and primary school curricula. I anticipated a mammoth task ahead, but was very
pleasantly surprised when on reading the Nepali curricula, to find that both were most
compatible with the aforementioned S-W curricula. It was thus a relatively easy task to
integrate the two, the results of which are freely available on the internet (see: References).

With any school trying to introduce a new, alternative mode of teaching, there is the
inevitable clash with the traditionalist who cling to the known-and-proven despite its
drawbacks. This fear of change is most strongly felt by the parents and thus an
approach, such as Steiner-Waldorf, is met with resistance and apprehension! It takes a
strong individual to step outside of the comfort zone and try something so radically
different, such as is offered in a Steiner-Waldorf learning environment. It takes equally
a strong individual to promote such an alternative. One such person was Meyrav Mor
from Israel.

In the late 1990s, Meyrav spent time in Kathmandu that resulted in her helping to
establish the very first Steiner-Waldorf inspired kindergarten at the large state orphanage
known as Bal Mandir, located in an old royal palace which had long since fallen into
disrepair. From these first humble beginnings, Mayrev was inspired to go further and
was instrumental in founding Nepals first Steiner-Waldorf school in 2000, the Tashi
Waldorf School. Both of these projects continue to thrive close to the city centre and
the Tashi Waldorf School has this year (2014) added its first class four. (see: References)

Round about the same time, a second Steiner-Waldorf school initiative was being created
to the north of the Kathmandu city centre in Budhanilkantha. The Shanti Waldorf
Inspired School was the founded by Marianne Grosspietsch as representative of the
German INGO Shanti Leprahilfe that since the late 1980s had been financing the
NGO Shanti Sewa Griha, a centre for individuals with leprosy and/or other physical
challenges. The new school was primarily set-up to offer a Steiner-Waldorf inspired
education to the children of adults supported at and by Shanti Sewa Griha. The school
has two kindergartens and offers classes up to middle primary level. (see: References)

There are other schools within the Kathmandu metropolitan area that are desirous of
offering a Steiner-Waldorf curriculum. One such initiative has even gone so far as to
register the name Steiner Academy and launched a very impressive webpage that gives
the enquirer an in-depth overview of what the school hopes to aspire to and achieve in
the indeterminate future!


4.

Moving out of the city, the challenges become greater through significant resistance to
change, augmented by a culture based on the antiquated caste system. Krishna Gurung
of the Kevin Rohan Eco Memorial Foundation (KREMF) is the driving force behind the
first initiative in the small village of Khahare, south of Kathmandu. This
anthroposophically inspired project, in memory of Krishnas son Kevin who died from a
tragic accident aged seven, was established in 2008. Apart from numerous other
activities, KREMF now hosts 55 children in two Steiner-Waldorf kindergartens in the
beautiful new sustainable building, with discarded wine bottles from the city embassies
incorporated into the structure as bricks! Through Krishnas work, especially
biodynamics, there has been a fairly rapid expansion of interest in not just biodynamics,
but also Steiner-Waldorf education and as a direct result, anthroposophy. (see: References)

Through Krishnas outreach, there have been and continue to be, regular advisory visits
from the respected New Zealand biodynamic farmer, Hans van Mulder who generally
visits Nepal accompanied by his wife Ineke, an experienced Steiner-Waldorf
kindergarten teacher.

It was during one of these visits to KREMF that Ritman Gurung from the northern city
of Pokhara, attended a biodynamic course organised by Krishna Gurung and conducted
by Hans van Mulder. Through this introduction to biodynamics, personal studies and
attendance at further biodynamic courses held in Pokhara, Ritman also heard for the first
time about Steiner-Waldorf education and was inspired by what he heard, leading to him
investigate the educational philosophy and methodology further.

A working group came into being with the intent of establishing a small Steiner-Waldorf
school as part of the biodynamic farm (Worldganic Farm). Apart from serious study,
the group also set about building the school from the ground up, so that in early spring
2014, there existed a school building with classrooms, an assembly hall and separate
volunteer/guest accommodation.

A clear blue sky announced a special day in Nepal. The date was 21st April, 2014 and
the day of the formal inauguration and opening of the first Steiner-Waldorf kindergarten
to be established in Nepals second largest city of Pokhara, situated at the feet of
the mighty Himalayan mountains.

The excited children, parents, teachers and guests assembled in the new, purpose
built assembly room to mark the occasion with the lighting of a candle
accompanied by the soothing sound of a beautiful Tibetan singing bowl.



5.

The teachers were delighted to be able to welcome experienced Steiner-Waldorf
kindergarten teacher Sarita Sanghai from India who had helped so much with the teacher
training. The gathering was also honoured with the presence of Michal Ben-Shalom,
a very special guest and Steiner-Waldorf teacher Master teacher from Israel.

Forming a large circle, everyone listened attentively to the speaking of a meditative verse
and call for blessings on the new initiative. The singing of a song, some finger games
and a story ensured that the youngest of those assembled were fully involved in
the occasion.

Moving to the new kindergarten, the children explored their new environment and played
with the imaginative toys and objects at their disposal, whilst parents and teachers
had the opportunity to share thoughts on the Steiner-Waldorf curriculum and
methodology; an educational philosophy that is so totally alien to those only
familiar with the well-worn, tried, tested but archaic ROTE learning system that
is so detrimental to a childs overall development. These are brave parents who
take a bold step into a new educational future for their children. The two available
classrooms can each accommodate 30 children, so the hope is that enrolments will
increase as word spreads of this unique new approach to education in Nepals second
largest city, Pohara.

The greatest challenge now, apart from the education and care of the beautiful
children entrusted to the care of the dedicated teachers, is for management to
generate a steady income stream to support this social initiative. Expenses are high
and income extremely low! The children come from the poorer families in the
community and thus struggle to even afford the minimum fee of Rs500 per month (less
than 4). It should be borne in mind that the average income for such Nepali
families is in the range of Rs200-300 per day at most!

Maitreya Pathshala has excellent new accommodation for the use of volunteers or
guests, at between 5-10 per day including three healthy meals! But for
management to benefit from this potential income, volunteers and/or guests are needed!

Please make it known amongst friends, acquaintances and especially Steiner-Waldorf
graduates contemplating a gap year, that Maitreya Pathshala welcomes volunteers for
shorter or longer periods of time to participate in the work on the farm and/or to
assist with practical duties at school, such as cooking the midday meal!




6.

This wonderful truly social initiative also relies greatly on the generosity of
supporters and well-wishers. Please consider helping the Maitreya Pathshal Waldorf
Inspired School in their truly social initiative to bring a new and enlightening form of
education to the children in Pokhara, Nepal, especially those who otherwise would not be
able to afford an education at all.

Donations can be made to a PayPal account via socialendeavoursnp@gmail.com (this is
administered by Eric Fairman) Please identify any donation as Maitreya

Or alternatively directly to the Maitreya Pathshala trust at:
Bank: NIC ASIA Bank Ltd
Mahendra Pool, POKHARA, Nepal
SWIFT: NICENPKA
Account: Maitreya Pathshala
Account No: 16213 16865 24007

Receive the Child with Reverence ;
Educate them with Love ;
And send them forth in Freedom.

Dr. Rudolf Steiner

References:

1. Integrated Nepali and Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Curriculum
www.scribd.com/doc/554673/Integrated-Nepali-and-Steiner-Waldorf-Early-Childhood-
Curriculii

2. Integrated Nepali Primary Steiner Waldorf Primary Curriculum
www.scribd.com/doc/55200267/Integrated-Nepali-Primary-Steiner-Waldorf-
Primary-Curriculum

3. Tashi Waldorf School
www.childrenofnepal.org

4. Shanti Lepra-Hilfe
www.shanti-leprahilfe.org

5. Kevin Rohan Eco Memorial Foundation (KREMF)
www.krmef.org

6. Maitreya Pathshala Waldorf Inspired School
www.maitreyapathshala.wix.com/maitreya

7. Social Endeavours Nepal (Eric K.Fairman)-
www.facebook.com/papasendeavours