Himanchal High School has become the center point of community development in Nangi village, offering basic education and vocational training to students from grades K through 12.
Currently, Himanchal High School is a K – 12 school with about 350 students and 18 teachers. Four of Nangi’s neighboring villages have elementary schools and one has a middle school. After completing the schooling that is available in their villages, the students come to Himanchal High School for further study. Here students in Nangi study subjects such as English, Math, science, education, economics, social studies, accounting, business management, computers, Nepali and physical education.
While we know that formal education is necessary for the students to enroll in higher education programs, for various reasons, not all students will be able to complete the highest levels of schooling. With this in mind, equal emphasis is given to practical and vocational education for the students. We are hoping to start carpentry, sewing and knitting, electrical, papermaking and handicraft training in the school. Such programs will also be connected to income producing programs to increase the school’s independence and sustainability.
The students of the Nangi are also working very hard to promote the school’s development. When they are not in classes, students are asked to do different kinds of work such as carrying stones and other materials for building construction, digging and leveling play ground or construction sites, planting tree saplings around the school compound, and helping with fund raising activities.
We don’t know about other communities, but our village can be a good example of village participation in Nepal. Our success over the past decade has proved that the villagers are really serious about making the school program successful. In ten-year period, the villagers and students have worked hard to build a library, a computer lab, a health clinic, two houses for the volunteers, a camping ground, and new classrooms for additional grades. The villagers are always ready to provide their free volunteer service in the form of manual labor as much as it is needed.
Our Effort As a Unique Approach for Community Development
The Himanchal High School Project is not only about starting a school and providing students knowledge from textbooks. It is about a holistic approach for the development of a community. No matter what we do or say, a community cannot survive if there are no economic opportunities. In Nangi, we are working to motivate people to work for the development of their mountain community by creating both educational and economic opportunities for villagers. We also believe that it is a community’s responsibility to become self-reliant by using and protecting its natural resources. Protecting these resources while using them at the same time is not an easy task, but we are trying to find ways make this possible.
We know that a model that works for one community and area does not exactly work for others. Nevertheless, the village hopes to create a development model that can be applicable in some way to similar mountain communities in Nepal.