Nima Dolma Tamang is the proud mother of Sher Bahadur Tamang, a student receiving pre-vocational education at Devi Secondary School in Sindhupalchok district whose attitudes have changed towards learning and life.
“Sher, the youngest in our family of 5, was a late starter in school and overage for a class VIII student,” she explains. “As a teenager, he would not listen to what his father said or follow instructions. He would not help his father with his carpentry work. In this new activity [doko basket making], he is different – he listens to the expert’s instructions and then is at all day!”
Dokos, baskets made out of bamboo, are always needed in a farming family to carry mud, dung, and water; a family goes through two dokos per year on average. Bamboo groves are local to Sher Bahadur’s home area, so the materials are available free of cost. Through World Education’s Naya Bato Naya Pailo program, Sher’s school has incorporated pre-vocational activities which teach children a useful skill integrating elements of business management and accounting and make the curriculum more relevant to the students’ lives.
A shy and reserved Sher Bahadur listens to what his mother says with a quiet smile. When asked specifically what it is he has learned from the pre-vocational activity, he explains the challenges of doko-making. “It is easy to weave the bamboo in and out, so the body of the doko is relatively quick to make. When it comes to finishing the top and the fine work, it takes more time and dexterity. If left incomplete, it could all unravel, losing all your previous work.”
His school’s head teacher feels that 15-year-old Sher Bahadur has a knack for doko-making. He explains that Sher is not the best student academically, but he is showing a high level of interest and talent when it comes to pre-vocational education. Sher Bahadur’s mother too commented that he would often spend time doing nothing before, but now he is actively and happily engaged in an activity that is useful and productive. She says, “It is like he had this creativity inside of him, and when the pre-vocational activity started, it was unleashed.”
In April 2012, Sher Bahadur passed his class VIII final examinations and moved on to class IX. He will continue doko making and learn additional business skills and how to produce other bamboo products through the pre-vocational education program.