SISTEER Nepal Day 8 - Institute of Forestry

Today at the Institute of Forestry (IOF), we were introduced to their academic programmes offered by the school, as well as a brief introduction of Nepal’s environment. Following that, we then proceeded to tour the school compound (research lab/ museum/ classrooms/ dormitory) before having the opportunity to interact with the students of the campus who were very welcoming and friendly. 

By sharing more about the curriculum offered by the IOF, we can infer that much emphasis has been placed in the conservation and management of biodiversity, environment and natural resources. Furthermore, the ease of accessibility to the natural resources in Nepal provides an all-rounded education where lessons are not just restricted to the classroom. By better equipping the undergraduates with the knowledge and skills in this field, this places Nepal in a better position to spearhead new initiatives and effective methods to better conserve and manage their natural resources.

However, while it may be unintended for the session to sound more like a corporate sharing of their curriculum, we felt that the session could have had more emphasis on how their academic programs contribute to Nepal’s current environmental conservation efforts. Based on what we learnt from our prior interactions with other social enterprises and NGOs that deal with environmental conservation, we felt that the faculty staff could have shared more on how their curriculum or projects could address certain issues that plagues environmental conservation efforts in Nepal.

In addition, during the tour of the school compound, we were able to compare and contrast the differences between NUS and their university. Comparing with our own prior experiences working in a laboratory, we are concerned about the safety management of the laboratory, the measures in place to prevent laboratory accidents, and the handling of specimens in the museum. Flammable liquids were readily exposed and the laboratory seems to be insufficiently equipped to deal with various laboratory accidents which may occur (eg. Chemical spills, fires etc.). This was similarly observed in the museum within the IOF, and seeing the condition of the specimens leads us to better appreciate how much effort went into the preservation of biodiversity in the museum in Singapore. From a cultural perspective, we also observed that Nepal holds more conservative views as compared to Singapore. While the dorms are separated by gender similarly in Singapore, people of opposite genders are not allowed to be on dorm grounds and any discussion/project meetings will have to take place in common areas in the school compound instead.

Later in the day, we met up with Winnie and a few of her students from DreamSchool. Unlike conventional schools in Nepal, DreamSchool has a mission to encourage students to be active thinkers of society, pursuing their dreams and ambitions. This is achieved through the provision of a variety of electives to cater to the interests of the students, encouraging them to take a step forward in pursuing their dreams. One example would be the students having the opportunity to take basic classes in Psychology. Some students have indicated their interest in psychology and DreamSchool provides the students with an introduction elective to this field. While this may be a subject that is offered at polytechnic level and above in Singapore, this elective could be offered to students in DreamSchool, to develop their interest at a young age.

Winnie also shared with us the cause behind the establishment of the school as well as the limitations faced, such as the amount of resources and the sustainability of this institution. We were impressed by her courage to volunteer at such an unconventional educational institution despite being a foreigner in Nepal and we were glad to have a glimpse of the work of Singaporeans out of our home country.

With good company, food and coffee, it was a perfect way to end another day in Nepal.

Written by: Gillian and Benjamin