Amid the forest and alluring natural beauty, there stands Maya Universe Academy, a child-friendly school for the children from the poor and marginalized community in Tanahun District of Nepal. It is a model school which offers the children with international standard education free of charge. A youth icon Manjil Rana, who envisions establishing such schools over the country based on experiential learning, has started from his own village.
Let’s watch the video on YouTube, where Rana shares how he started his project of founding Maya Universe Academy.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUNKtrnzEH4]
Rana in his early twenties started his dream project Maya Universe Academy, a free school, in his village in Udhin Dhunga of Tanahu District two years ago. Now he has scaled up the project establishing two more schools as its branches in the remote villages of Syanja and Makwanpur districts too.
Before he started this school, Rana completed his high school from St Xavier’s School in Kathmandu and then University education in India and the United States of America. In the present context of the youths flying abroad for foreign employment and studies, Rana stands as the symbol, who models the youths to inspire to take a welfare initiative and initiate the campaign for a common cause in their community that can make a difference in the Nepalese society.
The curriculum of the Academy meets the international standards. It is practical and based on experiential learning. The effectiveness of the curriculum is reflected in day-to-day life of the kids as they use not only Nepali but also English for communication.
Rana’s initiative has received support from many helping hands and volunteers. It runs with the minimum fund collected from the volunteers from abroad. In addition, the guardians’ voluntary service, and school’s own agriculture and farming have also contributed to covering the expenses.
As a part of community development service, foreign volunteers from different nations are cooperating with the school management by teaching the children. Every month the Academy arranges some volunteers and cooperates with the local teachers for effective teaching-learning.
An American volunteer Aayean says, “I am highly inspired by the school and having great time here. I believe that students are having fun in learning practically and these are the precious days for me too.”
The Academy has its own rules and regulations that have shaped its uniqueness. The best part of the school is reflected in the students’ uniform i.e. Nepali daura and surwal with dhaka cap for boys and skirt and cholo for girls. It can be one of the indications that our children can learn English without losing their cultural roots.
As mentioned earlier, the students do not have to pay any fees for their study. Instead, their guardians should volunteer in the activities of the Academy. It can be farming and construction or even preparing breakfast and lunch for the teachers and staff. The Academy has raised the hope among the guardians. They are happy to have such an ideal school in their community.
“It’s a joy to have such a school in our village. I feel lucky to see my kids learning English happily.” says a guardian Machindar Dulal. Another guardian Mahendra Adhikari shares his views, “School is really a gift for the people of the poor community, who are marginalized and deprived of quality education”.
The support from the local community has added new enthusiasm to the Academy. The regular meetings and gatherings work out and entrust the responsibilities of guardians for the welfare of the school.
Apart from the educational initiative, the school has also initiated in social transformation through various activities. As a part of social initiative it has been working for the production, promotion and marketing of local products. Rana has come up with the idea of promoting local products along with their production and marketing. For example, he has cooperated with the guardians in producing the orange jam in the village and to sell it in the cities. For this initiation he has trained a team with the skill of producing jam. This has really inspired the locals, who were unaware of such potential of the markets and products.
He is determined to translate his vision into reality. However, he sees people’s mindset and lack of communication among themselves as a major challenge. He feels that passion is the driving force we youths should carry and move ahead that surely leads to success. He has a dream of educating the kids from rural parts of Nepal so that they can explore and compete for the global opportunities. Obviously it is English that gives them competence and confidence to embark on the journey from the local to global.
This school is an exemplary one for other schools in Nepal, especially the private ones which increase their fees year by year to provide education to the children in the name of English. Besides, it establishes a friendly relationship among the students-teachers through good communication and interaction.
It’s an inspiring step that can surely bring about change in the education system of Nepal along with social development. Only the thing is that the society should be positive and supportive to help the visionaries put their thought into action. Rana argues that his initiation can bring about change in the education system of Nepal within 20 years. As a promising and aspiring youth, he believes that the schools like this should be set up throughout the nation.
If you want to learn more about the school, click on http://www.mayauniverseacademy.org/
Mr. Poudel is the manager at Radio Bani Network in Kathmandu and teaching English to higher secondary and bachelor’s level students.