Presidential Address: Fifteenth NELTA International Conference
Ganga Ram Gautam
Rt. Honourable Chair of Constituent Assembly Mr. Subash Chandra Nembang,
Honourable Member of National Planning Commission and Founding President of NELTA Prof. Tirth Raj Khaniya,
Past President, Current Advisor and Chief Editor of NELTA Journal Prof. Jai Raj Awasthi,
Prof. Abhi Subedi sir,
Secretary, Ministry of Education,
Paula Middleton and Ewan Davies British Council,
Amanda Jacobson, the US Embassy,
Founder Principal, Little Angels’ School,
Distinguished Guests on the dais,
Key speakers, Presenters, participants from home and abroad, publishers,
NELTA colleagues, media persons, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning and a very warm welcome to you all. This morning I feel very honoured and privileged to be here as the President of an association which we co-founded with my seniors 16 years ago. On this occasion, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all my seniors and all NELTA members for entrusting the current team to lead this wonderful association.
NELTA now serves through its 26 branches across the country with over 1300 life members and thousands of general members. Our members include English teachers of all levels of education, materials writers, ELT practitioners and experts working both in government and non-government sectors.
Now NELTA has established itself a truly voluntary professional organisation. NELTA members contribute to the framing of ELT curriculum, training packages preparation, their delivery and trainers’ preparation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
NELTA operates through its strategic plan and in the last one year we have achieved a lot. The details of the accomplishments have been presented in the conference booklet and it will also come in the General Secretary’s report at the AGM tomorrow. To highlight the key achievements, we have made some progress in the ELT survey in which NELTA works with the National Planning Commission, Ministry of Education, British Council and the US Embassy. We have done the preliminary work and detailed discussion is being carried out on its size and modality. David Graddol, a world renowned expert in this kind of research, has kindly accepted our request to contribute to the design of this survey and we have him here at this conference as one of the key speakers. NELTA and other key stakeholders will have a detailed discussion with David on this ELT survey.
Secondly, B. Ed. and M.Ed. courses at Tribhuvan university have been recently revised. In order to make our teacher education system compatible with the global ELT framework, NELTA and TU requested the US Embassy to make an international expert available to review these courses. As a result, we have Dr. Numa Markee with us here who kindly accepted the request and contributed to the standardisation of the courses.
When we asked Numa to give us his impression about our courses he said, “Overall, I think that the quality of the curriculum you have devised is certainly comparable to that of British, American and Australian universities with which I am familiar”. Numa will also be giving a key speech, plenary session and workshop both in Kathmandu and Surkhet conference. We are very grateful to both David and Numa for their important contributions to NELTA.
Thirdly, we have two key partners working with us since NELTA was born. Currently, we partner with British Council to implement the English for Teaching and Teaching for English (ETTE) project at the branch level. Similarly, with the support of the US embassy, we plan to run a new program called Access in which we will teach English to the youths of the disadvantaged communities and this program will be implemented by the NELTA branch locally. Also, the US embassy has been very kind to supply the ELT Forum magazine to all the life members of all the NELTA branches. NELTA has collaborated with Radio Sagarmatha in the English by Radio program supported by the Embassy and it is very popular.
One of the significant achievements of this year is the outreach program. We have two highly dedicated friends with us who have reached the unreached in the NELTA network. Gretchen Coppege, the English Language Fellow sponsored by the US embassy travelled with NELTA trainers to eight different branches and reached more than one thousand teachers. Similarly, another untiring friend Kate Miller from the UK who has been with us for the last four five years at different times voluntarily travels to the very remote branches and trains the teachers. This year she conducted teacher training in Baitadi, Dhangadh and Chitwan and she also conducted TOT in Lalitpur. After the conference in Kathmandu and Surkhet, she will conduct another TOT in Surkhet. Gretchen and Kate, thank you both of you for your great contributions.
Capacity building of the NELTA leaders has always been our priority. With the support from the British Council and the US embassy, NELTA members have participated in different international courses and events. We are very pleased with the Bell Centre in the UK for providing NELTA with the scholarships to attend trainer’s development course in the UK. Our warm welcome to Jim Scrivener from Bell who will be presenting here and in Surkhet.
Decentrilisation is yet another key strategy NELTA has included in the current plan. We would like to build regional hubs regionally so that sustainable growth can be observed at the branch level. NELTA Birgunj successfully organised a regional conference and NELTA Surkhet is undertaking a responsibility of organising international conference immediately after this conference. This shows that the branches have built up their capacity to function independently and NELTA Dhangadhi branch has acquired land and they are soon constructing building. I am happy to report that most of the branches have been very active and vibrant and with some support from the centre and the collaborating agencies. We have also had some discussion with the Fulbright Commission in Nepal and we have planned to have six ETAs to work with NELTA next year. We thank Fulbright for their willingness to partner with NELTA in this program.
The present NELTA journal is a historic one as it was peer reviewed and got registered with the ISSN number. The credit for this goes to the highly dedicated editorial team led by Prof. Awasthi. Along with him, Prem Phyak, Ghanshyam Sharma and Bal Krishna Sharma were behind this Herculean task and they have worked day and night to bring the journal in time.
Similarly, the online discussion forum moderated by the journal team along with Sajan Karna and Kamal Poudel and yahoogroups have been excellent forums for our members to connect themselves with the global ELT. Please log on to these sites and enrich yourself through mutual sharing.
In the next couple of years, NELTA should continue the projects that it has initiated and we need to create more space for collaboration with the key ELT stakeholders. Consolidation and capacity building of the branches should remain the top priority and the implementation of the ELT survey project should be our main target for next year. In order to accomplish these ambitious targets, we need your active participation and cooperation from all the sectors including the government. I am sure if we are together we can achieve what we aim.
Nepal at present in undergoing a big political shift. We are going to have a new constitution in a couple of months and the language issue is one of the hot topics. As an association of English teachers, we feel that the new constitution should also talk about the role of English in new Nepal. Since English is now a global language and language of education and business, a systematic positioning of English would certainly benefit our country to keep ourselves abreast with the rest of the world. In this context, I would like to request the Chief Guest of the ceremony Rt. Hon’ble Chair of the CA, to bring this discourse in the constitution framing process. NELTA shall be happy to contribute to this and we will be ever ready to collaborate with the CA for the appropriate positioning of English in the new constitution.
This conference marks the historic one with more than 100 speakers from different countries. I would like to welcome the two key speakers, all the presenters including the representative of our neighbouring ELT organisations like SPELT, BELTA, SLELTA, ELTAI and all the participants from home and abroad. On behalf of NELTA, I would like to express my gratitude to you all for accepting our invitation. I wish all the participants and experts to have fruitful deliberations. I also wish the foreign and out of valley participants a pleasant stay in Kathmandu. Please bear with us the very humble arrangements we, as a voluntary association, have been able to make.
Finally, in order to make this conference happen, Little Angels’ School System has given us a great support without which we would not have been able to carry it out so smoothly. Thank you LAS team. Similarly, for the last few months, NELTA colleagues have worked day and night. I sincerely acknowledge their voluntary contributions and I truly feel that they deserve the credit of the success of this conference.
Thank you very much indeed.