There are a few bleary eyes in the community hall here at 7AM on a recent Tuesday. But Christine Stone is bustling around happily, unpacking boxes of finger puppets, flashcards, and drawing materials for one of her rather unique teacher training sessions.
An hour in, Stone has the 25 teachers, some beginners and others 20-year veterans, blowing and chasing after soap bubbles.
The training is fun, but the lessons Stone imparts are serious. Some are general-why primary education is the foundation of all that comes later, including SLC, and others are specific classroom techniques, like inexpensive and interactive ways of imparting knowledge using flashcards, cassette tapes, finger puppets and, yes, soap bubbles.
The slogan is Education For All By 2015, and most action plans we see are about building infrastructure and supplying textbooks, to maintaining enrolment in schools and developing more relevant curriculum.
But talk to teachers who deal with low attendance rates, frequent failure, high repeat and drop out rates, and disengaged parents, and you wonder how teachers, who get little by way of training and support, remain motivated.
"Teaching needs to be seen as a challenging, exciting, thrilling career. Nepali teachers need a career structure and opportunities to progress," believes Stone, who criss-crosses the country every week with Save the Children Norway and private school associations training mostly primary school teachers.
In her 25 years of working in Nepal, Stone has done it all, from teaching English and math in Gorkha and Namjung to writing textbooks with the Secondary Education Project in Sano Thimi. Stone also works with the Kathmandu International Study Center (KISC) and Room to Read.
The transformation in participants is remarkable. Maya Regmi teaches three to six year-olds in a single class at Mahendra Secondary School in Narathati.She has four children of her own and began teaching 10 months ago just because she needed the money. But now, says Regmi, "I want to teach well now, try new things."
Regmi and her colleagues receive flashcards and listening tapes, and will take home the materials they've made. There could be nothing better for Shailendra Paudyal (pictured second left), who's taught at Ganesh Higher Secondary in Balewa for 20 years.
Today, when Stone put the teachers through listening and action-oriented exercises, Paudyal finally got that English words and phrases like 'point to the window', which he made his students repeat, actually meant something, they formed a language.