Children who live and work in the brick factories have little exposure to an imaginary world.
Some of these children are attending the Navojyoti Primary School nearby for the time being – until they leave to return to their native villages. School in Nepal is generally about learning by rote and sitting for exams, from our observations there is little opportunity for creativity – in any shape or form. Not terribly inspiring by any standard.
We began this project by reading a story about animals to the children – a simple tale in English, easily translatable to Nepali. We are encouraging students to read and enjoy books, to engage in a creative and imaginative world, and to participate in creative and imaginative play. The book we chose was bright, bold and new – tantalising in every way.
Children dramatised the story then we set to creating masks. It is quite a leap for some children in the group who have never used scissors or glue nor have even been asked to make something without copying. It always takes a while for them to settle and to feel comfortable in knowing that there are many ways to approach the task and that they can more or less do what they like within the parameters of the project.
The brick kiln children don’t seem to have a very high status in the school. Their families are itinerant workers who only live in the area for six months, so their children are not permanent members of the school community. Also their lack of education is very evident, and their living conditions means it is very difficult for them to be clean or in clean clothes. We have been told that they are seen as disruptive and wild.
This particular project of ours was just for them – it attracted a great deal of curiosity from the other students and maybe some bafflement from the teachers. It was only at the end when we brought the story, actions and masks together that the project really made sense. This type of learning seems to be completely alien in the Nepali Government school sector – one teacher asked me “what is imagination?” followed by “how do you get it?”
But when our little cats and birds came out of the class room into the play area – the whole school was enchanted. We told the story again, dramatised it, roared, mee-owed, gobbled, clucked and screeched – when the teachers saw it, they laughed, and were amazed. But sadly not especially curious about the many processes involved in this type of learning.
Nonetheless we hope it inspires them to bring the wonderful books out of their library and into the classroom where they are used and enjoyed and to see the potential in combining story with drama, learning language, creativity, fine and gross skill motor development, and social interaction and development through creative play.
Artists in Community International’s objectives are creativity, education and wellbeing. We received most of the funds for this project through the generous donations of many supporters through our crowd-sourcing campaign. But this is an unsustainable method of funding our work. We are looking for donors to contribute funds to sponsor future programs – are you or do you know anyone in a position to help? Please contact us.