Children of the Mountain was founded in 2009 by Irishman John Matthews. During a visit to a remote village in the district of Ghorka John encountered what he thought was a derelict shed for animals, it was in fact Maitum Primary school. The building was unsafe with dismal dark classrooms void of any color or materials.
John rebuilt the school providing bright and colourful classrooms and committed himself to helping other children facing similar conditions.
John was later joined on his mission by his brother Brian who founded Children of the Mountain Austria. Both John & Brian continue to play active hands on roles but both organisations now have expanded teams with Mike Smith leading day to day activities in the UK and Helmut Neuwirth activities in Austria. Together the two organisations make up COTM International and exclusively support Children of the Mountain Nepal, a charity we registered to implement our programs.
Our aim is to support the poorest children in rural and urban Nepal, providing them with opportunity through access to education and personal development. We actively campaign against gender and caste bias and promote education as a practical alternative to rampant child labour. We advocate for investment and directly invest in child centred education as a critical and effective tool in the fight against extreme poverty in rural and inner city communities. Our programs now include Kindergardens, Primary Schools, Computer labs and Teacher Training.
It is widely accepted that education has a major impact on poverty. All too often children, especially girls, from marginalised communities or so called lower castes are denied the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty through lack of access to a school. This discrimination only serves to prolong the cycle of poverty and hardship from one generation to the next. Our vision is for a Nepal where every child has access to a strong safe and nurturing school environment.
We advocate for and actively invest in school facilities and teacher skills, and promote the values that support and nurture children to reach their fullest potential. We envisage a Nepal where every school has the capacity to ensure that the academic, moral and cultural needs of all students are identified and the curriculum is aligned to reach these goals.
Access to a school is not enough; the education provided must foster an environment of inclusion and strive for equality of opportunity. We believe children from marginalised communities attending public sector schools should have equal school infrastructure, facilities and support as any child attending a fee paying school in the private sector. Our vision is for a Nepal where every child is provided an equal learning experience irrespective of background.
All too often governments, charities and school management compete for limited resources. When resources are made available they are utilised inefficiently with little long term planning nor impact measurement. This creates an environment of competition rather than cooperation, of dependency rather than accountability. We envisage a Nepal where all parties involved in the education of children cooperate effectively to ensure the optimal use of resources to improve access to schooling and quality of education provided.
OUR APPROACH SUPPORTS MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES, ADDRESSES INEQUALITY AND EXCLUSION, ENCOURAGES PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP AND LOCAL OWNERSHIP AND PROVIDES A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION.Read more
Communities located outside urban centers are often neglected due to the geographical challenges. It is often deemed more cost effective to support schools in cities, close to roads and international transport links. This excludes the most marginalized from opportunity. We support marginalized communities.
Any solution should be sustainable. We partner with local community and local government to utilize existing resources. All teachers salaries are paid by the government and the community provides additional support. Equality can be sustainable. We partner for sustainability.
Government run schools are often deemed too difficult to manage. Teachers employed in the public sector are often deemed lazy or unskilled with little incentive to change. This wrongful perception encourages the funding of costly unsustainable private schools. We support public sector schools
All too often social investors lack a strategy for effective lasting impact, delegating the use of funds to local agents and disbursing resources widely across multiple programs and locations. We focus on a One Community holistic approach. We encourage the participation and co-operation of all schools in a community to a long term plan. This approach enables sharing of limited resources and the development of and adherence to a common strategy for quality of teaching and measurable impact. We plan for lasting impact.
We believe that investment in a safe secure inspiring learning environment is vital for lasting impact. Trained teachers will not be motivated in dangerous schools and children will not be inspired by dark dismal spaces. However, as highlighted by the recent Earthquake, far too often schools are built poorly placing children at unacceptable risk. We have always put children first. We build strong safe primary schools.
CREATIVE EARLY YEARS
Our Kindergarten and early Grade classrooms are designed to foster and support creative learning and child centered teaching at the very beginning of school life. They include brightly painted walls, child friendly furniture, age specific dual language books and creative educational toys. Our creative inclusive spaces inspire children, encourage parents to value education from an early age and unburdens the older siblings from child minding duties. We foster creative first steps.
We believe children regardless of their background are born equal and have no limitations to their potential. We teach children that they are unique and valuable, to respect themselves, their community and environment, to nurture and care for others, have integrity and be accountable for their actions, work with others for the greater good, and be compassionate and generous without expectation of personal gain. We teach strong moral values.
LOCAL LANGUAGE LITERACY
Access to schools in rural communities is improving, however reading and comprehension skills remain well below students in the private schools and in urban locations. Due to lack of books and reading opportunity marginalised children are treated unequally from the start. All our schools are provided a library of age appropriate books, and our Nepali literacy program accelerate learning enabling children to read, comprehend and enjoy books to the same degree as their more privileged peers. We encourage and support children to read and understand.
We use international early grade reading assessment to monitor our impact. By the end of grade 3, children in our Literacy Program should read twice as fast and with 75% greater comprehension than their peers in government schools.
We respect the need to protect and promote local language but equality in the marketplace requires equality in language skills. Some parents are able to afford to send their children to fee paying English medium schools. However many children are left behind in schools with no or inadequate English Language teaching. These children are at an immediate disadvantage and are unable to compete for limited opportunities on equal terms. We do not advocate English medium teaching but we do promote English as a core curriculum subject. Our English language literacy program provides marginalised children better opportunity. We promote English language literacy as an instrument of equality.
Educating a girl is the most effective tool in eradicating poverty. However due to economic circumstances or cultural tradition, many girls from poorer communities are not provided access to education or if they attend school, are not supported or encouraged to graduate. Our ‘Girls Chance’ program proactively advocates for an end to gender bias and a change of culture in the school environment, supports girls facing financial challenges to attend school and empowers girls to question the cultural concepts that result in discrimination, lack of advancement and sexual exploitation. We proactively advocate for gender equality and support girls to attend and stay in school.
Many schools in Nepal request computers and many donors respond by donating second hand desktops. However these are of little or no use to teachers and have no lasting impact. Our approach is different practical and creative! Our innovative ‘’Hati Lab’’ solution addresses real long term need and has measurable impact. This carefully designed program combines the use of digital content and teacher training to set students down the path where they embrace the joy of learning and discovery. We foster children’s innate desire to learn, explore, experiment and express.