Humanist Society members are contributing five scholarships for students at this Humanist School in Kathmandu. The school originally founded in 2004, was purchased by SOCH Nepal and associates in February 2012. There are 189 students and 23 staff members with many teachers part-time. SOCH Nepal was founded in 2005 and is a Humanist Organization devoted to promoting the ideals of Humanism according to the Amsterdam Declaration 2002. SOCH’s working areas are promotion of Secularism, Humanism, Secular Education, Critical Thinking and fighting against Kuriti – Kuriti are bad cultural practices, including Witch Hunting, Dowry, Temple girls, Child Debt Slavery, Caste, and Gender Discrimination. SOCH have identified 57 Kuriti practices which they want abandoned. Establishing a school seemed an avenue through which to educate children, at an affordable cost, with high-quality Humanistic, Ethical, and Scientific Education, that will lead the students to re-evaluate these many practices which are woven into the warp and weft of Nepalese society. The school faces many challenges. It is difficult to recruit high quality teachers, some teachers are working without pay, there are infrastructural problems and to retain students the staff need to teach what parents want. Nepal was a Hindu Theocracy until 2006 and introducing Humanist principles will be a slow and careful process.
The school year begins in April in Nepal and Kuldip Aryal, a school manager, is at present selecting students for whom sponsorship will be most helpful. Student selection will be based on financial need, participation in school life and academic achievement. The cost of sponsorship is NZ$280 per year. The Scholarship will include Tuition Fees, Examination Fees and Field Trip Costs. Members sponsoring a student will receive a student profile, updates on their student’s academic progress, a letter from their student and there is the possibility of a Skype meeting. Families attending the school come from the lower middle class and parent occupations include domestic workers, street vendors, small shop owners, and tailors. The monthly income of families is about NZ$55.00 – NZ$71.00. This is 5000-6000 Nepali rupees per month. Families have a yearly income of about NZ$600 – NZ$850. An illustration of monthly expenses is: Rent 3000 rupees, Food 2000 rupees, Water 1000 rupees, Gas 1500 rupees. This has already reached a total of 7500 rupees without including school tuition fees. As already indicated a family’s total monthly income will only be up to 6000 rupees! Tuition fees are between 1000 rupees and 2400 rupees per month depending on the age of the child. Although there is a public school system in Nepal, in Kathmandu, the public schools have very high student/teacher ratios and they do not teach English. Private schools are very popular because they teach English and student/teacher ratios are lower. Ambience International School teachers a wide age range of students. There are preschool classes up to Senior classes where teenage students sit their Senior Leaving Certificate,(SLC). In 2013, 100% of Ambience International School senior students received their SLC. In the school year, just beginning, students will be able to enjoy a school library which was set up in early 2014. The Library which started with 142 books contributed by The Humanist Society of NZ now has 300 books with other books contributed by teachers and pupils. Our Society has also helped with infrastructure repairs. Kuldip has told us that maintenance work on staff facilities, for which our Society contributed funds is underway and nearing completion.
More sponsorship opportunities for Ambience International School students would be very welcomed and greatly appreciated by SOCH and the school management team. Humanist Society members are providing five scholarships for the new school year. If other members would like to contribute to this sponsorship programme please contact us. We are planning to put up an Ambience International School page on our website, where we can post new information and news of school activities.