Kopila Valley School
“We are the Kopilas, blooming every day. We are the Kopilas, learning every day.” -Maggie Doyne
BlinkNow traces its history back to one simple act of helping one young girl go to school. That act, rooted in hopes and dreams, triggered a series of others that led to the opening of Kopila Valley Primary School in 2010, the construction of a new high school and the groundwork for countless hopes and dreams in between – and moving forward.
WHY WE BUILT THE KOPILA VALLEY SCHOOL
The relationship between education and opportunity is clear worldwide: More of the first equals more of the second. In Nepal, the stakes are higher than ever. There is an incredible demand for higher education and job security thanks to post-civil war economic development. And yet:
- Adult literacy rate is 66%.
- Unemployment rate is 40%.
- Dropout rate is 59% after 8th grade (39% after 5th grade).
In Nepal’s remote villages, the numbers are worse. Unemployment is near 80% in Surkhet, mainly because so many adults are uneducated. And yet in regions this poor, this isn’t just about finding a job. Nearly half of all the five-year-old children in Nepal are malnourished, so school can provide at least one healthy meal each day. For girls, school promotes gender equality and helps delay the age of marriage (11% of Nepal’s population marries by age 14), which improves the rates of HIV, maternal death and suicide (the number one killer of women in a country where many girls list early marriage as a cause of mental distress). Around here, the impact of education is literally life altering.
WE BELIEVE EDUCATION CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
LEARNING FOR LIFE
At Kopila Valley School, we are dedicated to creating an environment that fosters mutual respect and working together, deep learning and boundless creativity. To developing joyful, compassionate learners and innovative thinkers. As part of our vision, we were the first school in Nepal to outlaw corporal punishment, a decision that stands in stark contrast to nearby schools but is key to our students’ success.
Our gates open bright and early at 7:00 in the morning and don’t close until 6:00 in the evening. The program is divided into four schools and offers a diverse curriculum – math, science, Nepali, English, social studies, computers – for nursery through 9th grade (with more to come soon).
Our students are at their best when their creative energies are stoked. They thrive at science fairs and theater performances, art month and poetry slams. They love dancing and moving, reading and learning. Kopila Valley School focuses on Montessori methods over teaching to a test. On helping students become doers – and future leaders.
MORE THAN A SCHOOL
Most of our 350 students come from poor socioeconomic backgrounds. Living in mud huts, abandoned or lacking access to education. So as much as our school serves as a place to learn, it is much more than that. It is also a day program where students enjoy a nutritious meal, basic medical and dental care and after-school activities like sports, music, crafts and cooking classes. The campus includes a Mental Health and Counseling Center, the Kopila Valley Health Clinic, tutoring room, computer lab, stage, and small library. We provide school uniforms and books for each student.
During school hours, you will see our students taking pride in everything they do. They line up for class. They wash their faces and brush their teeth. They sit quietly for meetings. All of our students speak English in addition to Nepali, which is a big step up compared to their peers. But the goal of our school is not just literacy and learning facts. It’s about shining a light on each student’s potential and inspiring a belief that they can lead a better life.
EXCELLING BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
Kopila Valley School is currently ranked one of the top schools in the region, setting a precedent for the quality of education provided to children in rural Nepal. A big part of our success is the dedication and excellence of our teaching team, a group of local teachers that are truly second to none.
We work alongside the Ministry of Education, the Women’s and Children’s Welfare Organization, the local municipality and district administrators to meet government standards for education, while also supplementing our own curriculum through guidance from visiting educators and other sources.
Our 8th graders spend months gearing up for the D.L.E., a national exam to graduate and move into high school. Our students prepare by taking extra classes before and after school, and doing practice tests on the weekends. In 2013, every one of our 8th graders placed in first division, and ten students were awarded with distinction. Even though we don’t focus on teaching to a test, the D.L.E. is a good measure for the kids and our young school. We’re all so proud of this incredible accomplishment. Not just for the high marks, but also for all the hard work and studying our students did to achieve something so big, together.
ACROSS THE OCEAN
Nisha, one of our first students, recently attended Peck, a coeducational day school in New Jersey, as part of a cultural exchange program. She loved her experience and learned more about the world than she ever imagined.
GRADUATING INTO HIGH SCHOOL
Construction is under way on three acres of land that will be the future site of Kopila Valley School, spanning from nursery through 12th grade. Our goal is to expand on both our primary school and our vision of providing the children of Surkhet with a nurturing and safe environment in which to learn, grow, develop leadership skills and become future leaders and change-makers within the community.
We believe that Kopila Valley can become a role model to other schools in our region, collectively raising the standard of education in our area. Our primary objectives:
- Continue to offer nutritious food, clean water, medical care, clothing and housing, if needed.
- Provide a multidimensional educational experience that both reaches beyond the traditional classroom, including art, music, world religion, sustainability and human values.
- Provide vocational training skills to develop self-sufficiency, including sewing, cooking, gardening, husbandry, community outreach, computer skills, business and entrepreneurship.
- Teach students how to grow and develop in an age of globalization while instilling a strong sense of cultural identity and connection to their land, environment and heritage.
- Establish a relationship with the local community to raise local awareness and stress community influence.
- Conduct programs and scholarships for girls and socially vulnerable young women within the community, thus encouraging women’s welfare, empowerment and gender equality.
By providing our students with secondary education, entrepreneurial, leadership and vocational skills training, we aim to cultivate a generation of good, caring and compassionate citizens who will bring innovative ideas and positive development to Nepal and the world.