The Academy is a community run school in rural Nepal. It was set up by the local community in 2008 to improve the standard of education in the area (the state run schools having a very poor reputation and are subject to political interference) and is run on English school lines. In Nepal 50% of pupils in the state system drop out of school altogether before they get to year 10 and in Nalang 90% of the adult population in was either illiterate or very poorly educated. It is a very poor community made up mainly of subsistence farmers. This makes the local community’s desire to set up the school even more remarkable. Nalang is a small town with 2,200 households. 11,000 people either live in Nalang or within 2 hours walk.
In 2014 the school started providing sporting activities and training and immediately found a dramatic improvement in school attendance and dropout rate (in state schools attendance of only 3 days a week is quite normal). Unfortunately, the school does not have any playing field facilities and all sporting activity takes place on the small area of land which serves as an outdoor assembly area. In spite of this the school has provided 5 former pupils for the National Under 19 Football Squad and 1 for the Under 19 cricket squad. There are currently no playing field facilities available within an accessible distance from Nalang although the Trust will soon be launching an appeal to raise the money to buy the land. The school firmly believes that sport helps to develop teamwork and is an essential adjunct to good all-round education
In 2015 the area was hit by a major earthquake which killed nearly 10,000 people and destroyed or severely damaged 90% of all buildings (including the school). Luckily the earthquake struck when most people were outdoors working in their field otherwise the death toll would have been considerably higher. Undaunted the community immediately acted to rebuild the school with minimum disruption to pupil’s education.
A small fee (under $80 per annum) is charged to parents of pupils but no pupil is turned away if they cannot afford the fees, a significant proportion of the pupils are provided with free education including all pupils with special needs. The school particularly encourages equal opportunities with special emphasis on the education of girls. This is in a country where traditionally girls were not educated and were married at a very early age.
Around 80 pupils are classified as “far pupils”. This means that they have a walk of around 2 hours to get to school across rough and hilly ground. During the monsoon season this means that due to unsafe ground conditions (flooding, landslip etc) up to 35% of pupils cannot get to school.
Before the earthquake the school had a hostel where these children could stay during the rainy season – thus no disruption to their education. However, the earthquake destroyed the hostel. Now The Yearley Trust has financed the purchase of land and financed the building of a 56 bed hostel for the school.
The Trust has also financed a new toilet block for the school, new school kitchen, glazed toughened glass windows for all the school windows, a 400,000 water reservoir to store water for the dry season and the building of a new second floor on an existing single storey building to create a Medical Centre for the community together with a large Multi-Purpose room for use by the school and the community after school hours. The Trust has also donated the equipment and furnishings for both the Medical Centre and the Multi-Purpose room
The school has also been keen to extend science education to years 11 and 12 (pupils could only study these subjects if they could afford to study in Kathmandu and pay for the costs of boarding there) The Yearley Trust has provided a fully equipped science laboratory to enable the school to provide the best possible science education and the first pupils studying science are due to complete their Year 12 exams in April 2020.