Shivapuri International School Award (ISA) 2020-2023: A Journey of Opportunities and Challenges
ISA coordinator, Shivapuri Secondary School
Shivapuri Secondary School is the one and only “International School Award (ISA) 2020-2023” winner public school of Kathmandu district. This is conferred by British Council Nepal in collaboration with Center for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD).
What is an ISA?
The International School Award (ISA) is a global accreditation scheme recognizing good practice in incorporating the international dimensions in schools. The accreditation process has an action planning stage, followed by compilation of evidence and the submission of an evaluation. It takes approximately twelve months to complete. Successful schools are accredited for three years.
The International School Award (ISA) acknowledges school collaboration internationally and provides a framework for recognizing schools that:
• champion international work and collaboration with partners to build and develop lasting relationships
• benchmark best practice and share professional development in teaching and learning
• engage young people in both the global economy and global citizenship and develop their skills for life and work
• Support whole -school projects that contribute towards school improvement
• enrich education through international work
The projects conducted in Shivapuri School:
The first project was the international collaborative project with one of the schools of Japan. Since Nepal and Japan both countries are situated at the earthquake prone zone, we had conducted project related to preparedness of earthquake focusing the role of school students. There was orientation program from the resource person to the teachers and students in the beginning. Then we conducted earthquake preparedness drill practice at school. That video recording was shared to the partner school and vice versa. Both of the schools watched videos and shared their feedback and reflection via zoom online with the presence of teachers. Both countries students did excellent work. They were so excited to see each other. This task expanded the horizon of students’ knowledge level in comparing to foreign country’s practice. Our students analyzed the difference of school preparedness in management level. Due to difference in time zone and firmed school activities of Japan, it was a bit challenging to manage time for online exchange. I am really grateful to my students that they used to be ready at any time to prepare and present their work. As a teacher it was a great lesson for me, if students are really interested, well guided, motivated and appreciated for their learning, they can do any task assigned to them. Finally students, teachers, parents, partners evaluated and reflected.
The second project was collaborated with a school of Pakistan about our national heritages. Students visited the heritage sites, collected data using questionnaires and observations. They prepared report and models of different cultural monuments too. Their task was exchanged with Pakistan. Students got good opportunity to know each other heritages and their importance for national identity.
Our third international collaborative project was with one of the private schools of Calcutta, India. The project was about traditional skills and technologies. Modern tools and technologies are replacing our indigenous technologies. In this regard, this project helped our students a lot to know how our past society used to survive and how it was in our neighboring country. Most of such technologies are similar between two countries except the names. The most important thing they knew is the base of any modern technology was originated in the past. While doing this project it was too urgent to prepare a document for our partner school. During that time our school was closed due to COVID pandemic. Partner school ISA coordinator called me to send some drawings of students. All our drawings were locked in schools. I recalled the students who were engaged in drawing activities. Immediately I checked my facebook messenger, found those students online at eleven pm at night. I requested them to draw again and send me as soon as possible. So amazing, they did it sent it by 1 am. Meanwhile I was communicating with the same partner, we both became so grateful to the students. Students were also too happy and confident enough when they got positive compliment from us.
It is not easy to get ISA award unless the students’ readiness to accomplish the task assigned to them. I never had to bear any problem from students. Rather I ever found them enthusiastic to get to know the world and do any work at any time at any cost.
We did a project of Newari food ‘Yomari’ for a local curriculum project. This was the project I like most in the school. The project head is active and energetic from beginning to the end of the project. She used to have innovative ideas to shape the project well. Whenever there used to modifications and changes as per the suggestions of BCSA I ever observed positive acceptance on her face and work. That’s why the students were well guided by her. Students’ performance in a mass like in assembly, exhibition was very appreciable. I experienced that there is a strong sense of love and affection towards our identity. If the concerned people are entrusted to those work, their attachment motivates them to feel highly responsible. So what, there, we gain success.
Our next project of public/private partnership was about model SAARC conference. Eight schools were the participants in this project; four schools were private and four schools were public representing eight SAARC member countries. Students took part in orientation program, workshop and finally in model SAARC summit. Two students from each countries (schools) presented in the model summit. Some other students and teachers and some guests were also invited in the summit day. Conference hall was well decorated with the banners, students’ projects, represented countries’ flags and SAARC logos prepared by the students. Grade seven students were the organizers of the program as it was the project of grade seven curriculum. Their team work and work division was admirable. We could observe their volunteer work in visitors’ registration, tea and snacks distribution, hall management, time management and keeping back each and everything after the conference. The agenda presenters were looked smart in their represented countries’ attires and ornaments. First presenters presented the major problems and issues and the second presenters presented their prospects and the ways to minimize those problems. The ways to tackle the problem, ways to know how the real conference are held, the importance of common effort for the commonwealth, planning to the grand program, writing review and reflection of the program and again presenting them visiting the partner schools are the real learning skills to them rather than reading lines from the books, rotting them and writing in exam and obtaining A plus without knowing anything.
We had three in- school projects except collaborative projects. Project of Chinese language and culture was done for grade 1, 2 and 3. Students learned simple festivals’ name, food’s name, dresses’ name, counting numbers and alphabets and Nepal, China and USA comparatively. Project related to the reduction of Junk food and about communicable diseases were conducted in grade 8 and 5 respectively. It is necessary to meet the international dimensions even in in-school projects.
All projects should meet one of the sustainable goals (SDGs), our national curriculum objectives and there must be test items set from each projects in schools’ terminal evaluation.
In a nutshell, ISA is a platform for teachers’ professional development, students’ learning opportunities and school’s international networking and global recognition. It is the mixture of overcoming challenges and grasping the opportunities for educational paradigm shift. Once, we were almost hopeless when there was complete disturbance due to COVID pandemic but again we resumed our task from the same phase where we had stopped. Project based learnings were found better productive to theoretical lecture based learning styles. The schools that benefit the most are the ones that are proactively seeking ways of improving classroom transaction and would like to see some change from traditional methods to more innovative methods.
The following benefits can be achieved:
• support with the development of a strong foundation for internationalism
• recognize internationalism throughout the school
• increase teachers’ and students’ global awareness by doing international collaborative work
• international accreditation scheme
• provides excellent public relations opportunities and media coverage
Since 2012, more than 500 schools in Nepal have participated in ISA and 146 have won the full award. The award winning schools incorporate the international innovative teaching/learning practices in the curriculum. Once the school is connected in connecting classroom program of British Council, there we get many opportunities to uplift our school’s status, students’ exposure and teachers’ professional development. I recommend other schools too to grab this opportunity and have paradigm shift in delivering content.
(Reference: British Council International School Award, ISA Guidance Manual, Nepal)
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