Ramesh Ghimire: Improving teachers’ performance in Nepal
Posted: 5 September 2022
Australia Awards alum Ramesh Prasad Ghimire is integrating his Australian experience, knowledge, skills and academic rigour as an Officer of English (Teacher Trainer) at the Education Training Centre in Dhulikhel. In this role, he plans, implements and monitors professional development programs for teachers in Nepal’s Bagmati Province.
Ramesh completed a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) at Flinders University in 2021 with the support of an Australia Awards Scholarship. His work is important year-round, but holds special relevance to International Literacy Day, which is marked each year on 8 September to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.
“I am passionate about my work as a teacher educator because education is an essential infrastructure of development,” Ramesh says. “The only way to improve the quality of education is to improve teachers’ performance and engage them in lifelong learning. That is what I enjoy doing.”
To assist in such lifelong learning, he conducts trainings, workshops and seminars for teachers, school principals and civil servants working at the local levels. He focuses on enhancing the quality of education by improving classroom pedagogy.
Ramesh joined the civil service in 2013 as a teacher trainer at the National Centre for Educational Development and was placed in Surkhet District. There, he trained hundreds of teachers, visited schools and provided on-the-spot support. Two years later, he was transferred to the Curriculum Development Centre in Sanothimi, Bhaktapur, where he developed the school-level curricula and curricular materials, focusing mainly on language subjects. He also quality-controlled school-level reference materials developed by private publishers. He was instrumental in revising the National Curriculum Framework and the Early Childhood Education and Development Curriculum, and in developing an integrated curriculum for grades 1 to 3 in Nepal.
Working in Nepal’s education sector, Ramesh has encountered several challenges. Illiteracy is prevalent among both adults and children. In adult literacy, the key challenge he faces is sustainability: people who become literate through short-term literacy programs are likely to become illiterate again due to lack of opportunities to use the skills they have developed. Furthermore, he believes it is difficult to adapt to the changing dimensions of literacy: digital literacy is important in modern life but is not easy to develop.
In children’s literacy, Ramesh sees two main challenges: firstly, supporting out-of-school children to attend schools; secondly, improving the literacy of children who are enrolled in schools but have not developed essential literacy skills. Many school-level children in Nepal do not have strong reading and writing abilities. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated remote learning in many situations, making digital literacy a prerequisite for access to education; children with limited digital literacy are at a disadvantage.
Ramesh believes that providing teachers with professional development opportunities helps overcome these challenges by empowering teachers as mediators of change and development.
On another positive note, Ramesh notes that many factors are working well in Nepal’s education sector. He observes that there are advantages in the current three-tier structure of government, where all tiers work to improve education. With school education management under local government jurisdiction, local governments work closely with communities. Likewise, there has been an increase in good physical infrastructure for education because many schools were rebuilt after Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes. Additionally, increased awareness among parents about education makes them more eager to invest in their children’s education.
Ramesh’s Australian experience has changed his attitude and thinking, specifically in educational leadership and management. He is able to build human capacity to counter current challenges in the education sector and plan professional development programs for teachers through evaluation and design of research in current sectoral issues.
When discussing International Literacy Day 2022, Ramesh says, “International Literacy Day is important because it reminds us to reinforce literacy activities in our communities, which can change the lives of illiterate people. Literacy is a prerequisite for the development of the essential skills of learning, unlearning and relearning needed for the 21st century.”