DILKUMAR ALE MAGAR, KATHMANDU, Dec 28: After already building his first school in Nepal’s southern region six months ago, Gavin McCormack, a primary school teacher and principal from Sydney has given the children of Thulidar, Kavrepalanchowk, located high in the Himalayas, a Christmas gift they’ll never forget.
During the school holidays for the past 12 months, Gavin has been collecting teaching materials in suitcases and taken the trip to Kathmandu. His mission is to change the education system in the country and he’s doing it one school at a time.
Gavin visited the village of Thulidar, a small isolated village prone to earthquakes and tremors, in September. When he saw the local primary school he knew something had to be done.
“The school was more like a chicken shed” said Gavin.
He then travelled back to Australia and immediately started raising funds to help the community. After running marathons, cake stalls, and even donating proceeds from his own books, Gavin started to get some traction.
Sure enough after a month, Gavin had enough to start the job. But having a full time job as a primary school teacher in Sydney meant he had to have a team on the ground.
After dedicating several months to training Montessori teachers in Kathmandu last year, Gavin had been given the title of Honorary Principal of Kathmandu Montessori Training Centre.
This gave him access to an amazing amount of staff and teachers who operated the build in his absence. When Gavin arrived in December carrying around 1ton of teaching materials, the job was well underway. His vision was simple. To build a school, that was fully equipped with all educational tools and a fully functional library that would be able to grow as the demand grew.
Danfe Primary School, houses three classrooms, a vegetable garden and a chicken coup–allowing the children to grow their own food and make a profit from the eggs. The children of the village were invited to a special art class 2 days before the opening, the painting were framed and used to decorate the classrooms and library allowing them to take ownership over their community school.
“It is important to give children the chance to feel that they were part of the process, they will automatically take ownership over the school.” said Gavin.
The skills of the local villagers came in handy with all the shelves being made locally from unused wood left over from the wreckage of the previous school which collapsed in the 2015 earthquake. Although Gavin is not religious, the opening ceremony of the Danfe Primry School on Christmas Day and was a wonderful gift to give to the community of kavre and the country of Nepal.
The students and teachers were overwhelmed to see their new school. The teachers expressed their happiness through songs and dances during the opening ceremony and the children sat in the library eagerly reading the vast collection of books.
“Two of the greatest gifts anyone can give are time and education, and today we have given our time to give these children an education. “
Gavin was quoted as saying during the opening ceremony. Next year Gavin aims to build a teacher training centre run by women in the city of Kathmandu and hopes that this can help improve the overall state of the education system in the country.