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Stories From Nepal

Students and Teachers for Digital Literacy

Peace Corps Volunteer Tommy taking English class
Tommy teaches an English class.

Peace Corps Volunteer Tommy serves as an English Education Volunteer at a school with nearly 200 students in a rural community in the Gandaki province of Nepal.

On the first day of school, one of Tommy’s partner teachers showed him the computer lab. The desks and the computers were covered in dust, and four of the 10 computers in the lab didn’t even work. One computer had software from 2007 without an internet connection. The computer laboratory was essentially non-functional and left students and faculty without a critical tool for learning—the internet.

When Tommy asked the school’s principal about the computer lab he said it wasn’t used and had fallen into disrepair but expressed interest in repairing it.

“The internet is the best teacher,” he said, “You can learn anything from it.”

The principal talked with the teachers about the lab, and feedback was positive. Some teachers had been at the school for nearly a decade and had never used a computer before. They were excited to learn.

“The internet is the best teacher,” he said, “You can learn anything from it.”
Old computers at the school being upgraded
Tommy, the school principal, and a local philanthropist found the resources to repair and upgrade old computers at the school.

The principal contacted a local alumnus of the school named Raju, a social worker who knows how to use a computer and had donated playground equipment to the school in the past. Initially, the school planned only to repair the computers that weren’t functional. After examining the lab, Raju had a better idea. He proposed upgrading the entire lab to Windows 10 with hardware to match.

“I was worried that we wouldn’t have the budget to make that happen,” said Tommy, “but Raju said to get what we could, and he’d manage the rest. It was his school, too.”

Technical resources were funded locally, and Tommy applied for a grant to cover software, hardware, and other necessary equipment and labor through the USAID Small Project Assistance Program.

Over a period of four days, Raju, Raju’s technically skilled brother, the principal and Tommy worked to upgrade the lab. When the dust settled, all 10 computers worked well, connected to the internet, and were running Windows 10.

Students using upgraded computer
Students use an upgraded computer.

The school held two training courses for 15 teachers on the basics of Microsoft Office and web browsing. Some teachers attending had never used a computer before. Balu, a teacher who had been at the school for over a decade, said, “I want to learn computers. Now is the time.”

Students use the computers to create graphs in Excel and letters in Word. Every day they ask to use the computer lab. A system has been put into place that rewards student work with time in the lab. The computers have become a teacher and a reward.