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Outreach: Abiding Heart Education's Support to other Organisations from 2017 to 2022 

We, at Abiding Heart, have been busy with our own activities, however, we also provided support and services to several other organisations since the beginning of 2017.  Please join us as we take a look back at the last six years and how we supported more than ten other organisations in offering them teacher training, mentoring and advice in pedagogical aspects. We also offered them consultancy services in other related aspects of running an education establishment, such as Human Resources, school organisation and management, and care and welfare of children. We sponsored the cost for majority of these activities, particularly during the pandemic years, thanks to the generosity and compassion of Abiding Heart's donors and supporters.  

May this work be of benefit to all. We dedicate this merit to the enlightenment of all sentient beings. 

Tergar School, Kathmandu
January 2017 - February 2021

We developed the vision and put systems in place, beginning with writing a detailed strategic plan for the establishment of Tergar school. This included: organisational and management systems; finances and budgeting; school project phases and timeline; staffing needs and human resources systems; care and welfare of children programmes; designing and developing the school's grounds; and helping the school's leadership in defining and articulating the ethos of the school.  

Below is a summary of what we achieved in four years: 


Tergar Monastery School's Grounds
Designing the development of the school grounds. This includes:

  • Writing proposals to fund the construction of one of the school buildings

  • Designing the renovation of existing buildings and furnishing them and overseeing that implementation is going according to plan and budget.

  • Designing several new buildings (two of which have been built since). 

  • Designing the classrooms interior in the Waldorf education style

  • Designing Waldorf style wooden furniture and soft furnishing and overseeing that implementation is according to design.

  • Designing and implementing the general style and feel of the school compound to bring a vision of natural and wholesome childhood that takes away any institutionalised feeling.

  • School buildings specifications: Working with architects by creating detailed education specifications and designing the future school's buildings (beyond the two buildings which have already been built).

  • Children's residential home units specifications: Working with architects on building design of the monastic children’s residential home units which includes a home from home approach that keeps their children connected to their home Himalayan culture, environment, nature and the farming traditions many of them come from. Also, in designing the care of the children model we included house parents to care for the children in small home units with a small number of mixed age children in each home. The model is for each home unit to like a family unit with kitchen, living space for the children to live and cook together with house parents in a family style of living. The aim of this model is for the children to learn life skills, feel safe and nurtured and remain connected with a sense of family life. 

  • Landscaping the school grounds by planting 100 trees and hundreds of shrubs and flowers. Our aim in doing so was for the trees to mature by the time the school opened its doors to the children so the children can experience eating fruit directly from trees. 

  • Playground: Designing the school natural playground and providing close guidance to the manager responsible for the implementation.  

  • Safety: We worked with architects, engineers, construction managers and the monastery management on stabilising the school's boundary land to ensure safety of children. 

  • Sourcing tradesmen: we helped the monastery source and hire: support staff, maintenance workers, engineers, a construction manager, administrator, a carpenter and gardeners for the school project.

  • Setting up training/advisory staff accommodation: We set up a comfortable and well equipped staff accommodation for visiting trainers.

Care and Welfare of Tergar School's Children

  • Educating the school leadership of the urgent need to change the traditional monastic care system for their children to one that is more child centred and uses a family style care model. 

  • Designing a new model for the care and welfare of monastic children to be used by the school. This programme integrates 24 hour care: the time before, during after school hours ,with the emphasis on a home from home environment for the monastic children. The children's wellbeing programme also includes a system for sending the children on holiday back home at least once a year. This is so the children can remain connected with their roots: their biological family, the extended family, their village and regional community, and the natural environment they were born into.

  • In the care and welfare model we included a budget  and a financial reality that must consider: 

    • human resources need, i.e., having enough teachers and actually having house parents. Taking care of staff by offering a very good employment package (i.e., having a very good salary, medical insurance, enough holiday time, comfortable accommodation and nutritious food) will increase staff retention which means stability and consistency for the children. 

    • investing in training teachers and house parents by paying for them to attend ongoing long term training courses as well as personal development workshops

    • providing children with enough clothing appropriate to the weather 

    • creating a system for care staff to care for the children's personal hygiene to be maintained at a good standard 

    • creating a system for up keeping the children's living and education environments clean and beautiful and inviting

    • offering healthy, nutritious and balanced diet for the children. We put an emphasis on the children having fruit and protein sources, several times a week rather than very occasionally or once a week.

  • Establishing a cafeteria/kitchen with: a healthy food menu; a standard of how to cook and bake nutritious food and healthy drinks. We put a strong programme in place for training staff in food hygiene and how to ensure this standard is maintained!

  • Training the school management in how to implement the children's welfare and care programme we designed in boarding situation. We  worked hard on setting up a standard for care of children in terms of the school: hiring house parents, providing plenty of healthy food; ensuring high standard of food an personal hygiene;  an providing care for children’s physical and emotional well being, understanding that each child is a unique individual that must be loved and celebrated. We spent 3 years training the person who is now in charge of the care of the children as well as other members of the school management. We put this system to the test by providing care for some of this monastery's children  who resided in the gompa in the years leading up to the establishment of the school. 

  • Training the school's management in a system of maintaining school buildings and outdoor environment to be aesthetic and tidy at all times.  

  • Designing and creating for the children a culturally relevant outdoor school environment to include:

    • a nomad's tent as a learning environment

    • smallholding with farm animals vegetable garden, fruit tree, a field for growing barley, corn and other crops

    • a traditional high Himalayan kitchen with a wood burner. We called it the storytelling kitchen

    • The intention in designing this environment is to keep the Tergar school children connected to their home environment which is mostly in the rural mountainous parts of Nepal. By doing this, we aim to support the children's emotional well being and minimise the effects of the drastic change of leaving home at such a young age.


Running a School

  • Training the school management in developmentally appropriate education and school related activities, such as:

    •  preparing the school's weekly and daily schedule.

    • sourcing out and making learning and teaching materials and books.

    • preparing the school annual calendar of events, including natural. educational and cultural outings, observing auspicious days.

    • Nurturing the spiritual life of the school and how to keep the children. connected with the monastic life (the monastery is about 25 minutes up the hill walk).

    • creating and maintaining warm and beautiful classrooms.

  • Training the school's management team in how to create and maintain a gentle and caring school and residential boarding care routine, and how to respect, empower and support staff so they in turn feel safe and supported to care and teach the children with a warm attitude of love and compassion. 

  • Connecting: Through building a connection between Abiding Heart teaching team and Tergar Osel Ling, one of Abiding Heart's local trainers linked the monastery with his community in Helambu (Yolmo). Many of Tergar school children are from this community.


Education:  

  • Training the Tergar school's management team, their leader and their international education team in the Abiding Heart Education approach. 

  • Mentoring and guiding some of the Tergar school's international advisors/team members who are involved in designing the Tergar school's education activities.   

  • Translations: Guiding some of the Tergar school staff in how to translate children’s stories into local languages ensuring to adhere to language that is age appropriate and pedagogically sound.

  • The school leadership decided that they would start their school using a regular Nepali style of education system as they felt that implementing the Abiding Heart approach would be too complicated for their reality at the time. Some members of the school management could not agree with the Waldorf holistic aspect of Abiding Heart and they preferred a more mainstream education system. The school management struggled to understand and accept the fusion of: Waldorf education together with holistic indirect mind training, experiential learning, and a gradual introduction of enquiry based learning and emphasis on academic learning. They expressed that they wanted an approach that is centred on acquiring literacy and numeracy skills with focused primarily on science and predetermined academic achievements. One of the leaders felt that the Abiding Heart approach is too feminine and rich (perhaps because it involves: a strong child development centred approach; seeing each child as a unique individual; contemplative and heritage arts and crafts; and providing children with learning and teaching resources, some of which are handmade and made of natural materials). We, at Abiding Heart, understand that the leadership and middle management of a school must have a good understanding of our education approach and be on board with us for it to work. After four years of intensive work, we completed the foundation stage and systems building for Tergar school and wished them success in providing the kind education they wish for their children. We rejoice that as a result of Abiding Heart's involvement Tergar school children can now have a better foundation for education. 

 


Tergar Charity, Nepal 
April 2017 - May 2021
 

Abiding Heart was central in developing and establishing Tergar Charity's Nubri kindergartens in terms of:

  • Writing proposals for the establishment of the Nubri kindergartens in 2017, a year before Tergar charity was established. These proposals were then submitted to potential donors with successful results.

  • Designing one of the kindergarten's logo. 

  • Training Tegar Charity staff on how to establish and maintain fundraising systems and events. 

  • Training the Nubri kindergarten teachers and administrator on how to implement and maintain the child sponsorship reporting system. 

  • Enabling Tergar Charity to use the Abiding Heart Education teacher sponsorship system (with the condition that they can do that while they are collaborating with Abiding Heart) in their organisation and website to generate financial support to send their teachers  to Abiding Heart's training courses.

  • Mentoring Tergar Charity management staff in: administration; Human Resources; organisation and staff management; and effective communication and care of staff.

  • Providing on-going advisory service and training to the management and administrative team of Tergar Charity.

  •  Implementing a bespoke education programme, curriculum implementation, how to work with parents, and guiding the Nubri valley kindergarten teachers in a way that met the specific needs of Samagaun and Prok villages communities. 

  • From 2017 - 2021 we were central to setting up for the Samaguan village kindergarten a bespoke education programme that brought together Abiding Heart's early childhood education together with the Montessori system. We arranged for 19 months Montessori training in Kathmandu with Bina's KetaKeti Bari Montessori kindergarten, who is one of Abiding Heart's local partner organisation. This is in addition to the two years Samagaun teachers received training from Abiding Heart in our education approach. 

  • From 2019 - 2021 we were central to setting up Prok village as Abiding Heart Education kindergarten.  We arranged for 6 months Waldorf training in Tashi Waldorf school who is also one of Abiding Heart's local partner organisation. We also trained the Prok teachers in our centre during that time.  We took it upon us to purchase the education resources and toys and guiding the classroom setting up with furniture and other equipment. We also donated toys and education resources to this kindergarten.

  • Training: We trained the Prok and Samagaun kindergarten teachers in the Abiding Heart Education approach for kindergarten.

  •  From July 2019 - May 2021 Abiding Heart's team also trained the Samaguan and Prok teachers in Buddhist philosophy, meditation and the Abiding Heart Education Buddhist imbued curriculum, which is still being used in these settings. 

  • In-school training: Providing these kindergartens with in-school training service by sending Abiding Heart's trainers to train and mentor the Samagaun and Prok Kindergarten teachers in their own setting from 2019 - 2021 

  • Ongoing mentorship: Providing ongoing online mentorship and lesson planning guidance sessions with Prok and Samagaun teachers.

  • Cultural preservation: Providing Samaguan and Prok Kindergartens with Abiding Heart's Tibetan and Nubri/Tibetan culture related curriculum content in Tibetan language. This curriculum is part of Abiding Heart’s bespoke Himalayan kindergarten curriculum. We designed and supported in the implementation of our teacher training that we designed specifically for Buddhist Himalayan communities. 

  • Establishing a programme for teaching English as additional language in both kindergarten and provided on-going to support in implementing this programme. 

  • Designing the playgrounds for Prok and Samagaun kindergartens and building the Prok kindergarten playground.


In July 2021 most of the Prok and Samagaun teachers shared that it is difficult  for them to manage the standard of Abiding Heart's  teacher training courses, and also expressed that they are not interested in studying child development, and the underpinning Buddhist philosophy and meditation which are an important part of our courses. Tergar Charity's director also prefers to have aspects of the Montessori approach together with Nepali rote learning system implemented in these kindergarten as he felt that the kindergarten should focus on the children learning to read and write in three languages and should be less play based. It was decided then that in these kindergartens the teachers will teach using a combination of traditional Nepali teaching system together with basic Montessori education practices.

For report please visit our Community webpage. Please see link below. 

Almost all culturally relevant and Buddhist related learning activities in the Tergar Charity's kindergartens and Tergar School have come from the content of Abiding Heart Education. This also includes stories, songs and verses and their translations into Tibetan.
 

Tergar Osel Ling Monastery, Kathmandu
February 2017 - February 2021

Educating Tergar Monks from Kindergarten through to University 
Abiding Heart dialogued, advised and suggested possibilities  with the leadership of Tergar monastery to include education for monks from kindergarten, primary (class 1-8) but also to ensure a high school programme for the monks that integrates both shedra foundation studies and secular high school diploma. In the vision we offered the Tergar monastery leadership, the shedra foundation years will extend and each year will include buddhist foundation studies and high school studies. In this way, Abiding Heart advised, the monks will develop enquiry and analytical skills, as well as high capacity to express ideas
, thoughts, philosophical debates not only orally but also in writing.

We advised the leadership that for the monks to have a high school diploma would enable them the possibility for academic studies once they completed the shedra. Furthermore, Abiding Heart advised that by introducing a high standard high school with an officially recognised high school certificate, the monastery can accredit their shedra 9 years studies as a bachelor and master degree with one of the Buddhist universities in Nepal. This, we advised, would open possibilities for monks to pursue doctorate studies in local and international universities and bring the monastic voice to international academia of Buddhist and contemplative studies. 

In addition, we recommended to Tergar monastery leadership to create new avenues for monks who graduated from the shedra, such as, taking Abiding Heart's primary teacher training to become professional transformative Buddhist learning teachers. 

In addition, we identified the need for the shedra teachers to be trained in how to teach their shedra students. Abiding Heart recommended to the Tergar leadership to include a one year training in teaching methodology and offer it as a certificate level to shedra teachers from other monasteries. 


Shedra Teacher Training 
At the end of 2019 and in the beginning of 2020 Abiding Heart designed and began implementing the Shedra teachers'  training in pedagogy or learning and teaching methodologies. The aim was to support the monastery's college teachers to improve how they teach and relate to their shedra students. This course came to a halt as a result of the pandemic.  

Thangkha (Paubha) Painting In 2019 we set up the thangka (paubha) training programme for Tergar Osel Ling monks. For report please visit our Community webpage. Please see link below. 

 

Tergar Institute at Tergar Osel Ling, Kathmandu

January 2019 - July 2020

Abiding Heart dialogued, advised and suggested possibilities to the leadership of Tergar monastery for the development of their international buddhist college programme:

  • Abiding Heart cultivated relationships with one of the local universities in Nepal to provide accreditation to Tergar to offer a bachelor degree in Buddhist Studies

  • We identified and recommended individuals to the Tergar leadership who can develop the Buddhist Studies programme. We advised the leadership on the terms of engagement with these individuals, such as pay, duration, and job description.

  • We also mentored the person that was hired in how to develop aspects of the International college Buddhist studies programme in terms of:  connecting and engaging with local organisations; dealing with logistics of having international students in Nepal; identifying staffing needs and finding faculty to teach on the programme; ideas of areas of integrating socially engaged buddhism into the programme; students wellbeing and ensuring  international students are held and cared for throughout the programme in terms of physical and mental well being; how to create a financial budget and systems; and much more.


Tsoknyi Gechak (TGS) monastic School and Tsoknyi Gargon Ling (TGL) Monastic School, Kathmandu 
November 2020 - August 2021

  • We trained 10 class teachers from Tsoknyi Rinpoche schools in: 

    • child development 

    • Buddhist psychology

    • learning theories and methodologies

    • Buddhist pedagogy

    • Shamatha meditation

    • some of Abiding Heart's curriculum studies for kindergarten and primary school

    • handwork 

    • the arts 

  • We provided advisory service to the school’s principal.

  • At the request of the principal, we spent 3 days in TG School observing and assessing the education, organisational and care needs. We made recommendations on how to improve the quality of teaching, care and education as well as a more stable administrative/management system. 

  • We provided support in sourcing education equipment for their kindergartens. 

  • We gave our recommendations on how to improve nutrition for their children.

  • Translations: we trained the school teaching staff on how to translate Abiding Heart's learning resources into Tibetan. We work together on translating several children’s stories and songs into Tibetan.

The school principal felt that implementing the Abiding Heart approach would require a deep change and the full participation of the school management; something she felt was premature at that stage. The school leadership also questioned the need for two years training (Abiding Heart's training is two-years full time) and felt that it was too long. The school has been implementing some aspects of Abiding Heart education in care, arts and handwork. They continue to offer a mixture of Nepali government education system with aspects of Montessori education for kindergarten and a little bit of project based methods. The approach remains mainstream and with focus on predetermined results but in a loving, caring and warm environment for their children. 

Khyentse Foundation, India (KFI)
2021and on-going

We provided consultancy service to KFI director and leadership team in aspects of: 

  •  Improving education standard in Kanishka monastic school.  

  • The general process and requirements for setting up a new school for lay children.

  • Giving guidance on the process of setting up a new school using the Abiding Heart Education approach.

  • Advising on establishing a school’s human resource and a healthy management and organisation systems.

  • Providing advise to KFI on how to turn their vision for their unique education specifications for their various education projects into a reality. 

  • Guiding KFI on how the Abiding Heart curriculum can meet their lay Indian sangha school cultural heritage and diversity needs while still being deeply Buddhist based; and how to design a bespoke Abiding Heart that meets the unique cultural and social needs of their community. 

  • Providing the KFI team with advice on:

    • specifications and design of  a new school premises to include classrooms and other facilities from nursery to class 12 as well as a section for parents education. This includes buildings specifications, outdoor space layout to include areas such as, playing fields, gardening classroom and small-hold to reflect their vision for their school’s activities 

    • Providing a more detailed specifications of buildings, gardens, playing fields and landscape to be able to implement the Abiding Heart Education approach in their school  KFI director and another member are half way through they two-year full time training at Abiding Heart. 

    • Helping in calculating the size of land required to purchase to meet the education specification. 

 

We ran our short Paubha painting course for KFI in Delhi as part of their programme to preserve Himalayan Buddhist arts. 


Serdang Monastery School, Nubri, Nepal
August - November 2021

In 2021, Abiding Heart gave three months training to two teachers from Serdang monastery's primary school. To help improve condition in this school we donated teaching resources, learning materials, toys, arts and crafts supplies, books, games for outdoor play and more. 

For report about this outreach activity, please visit our Community webpage. Please see link below. 


Indreni Charity, Kathmandu
November 2021 to December 2022
 
We trained 6 class teachers from Indreni charity in kindergarten and primary education. In addition, we offered this school teachers:

  • Providing a close mentorship programme for the 6 teacher trainees to keep up with the course content and assignments.

  • Mentoring: Regular weekly mentoring sessions with this team guiding and preparing them to implement the Abiding Heart Education approach in their school. 

  • Mentoring and providing additional training beyond the training course route.

  • Guiding: Regular support in creating and sourcing education resources, equipment, toys, arts and crafts supplies.

  • Bespoke programme: To meet the needs of the Indreni unique circumstances, we adapted the Abiding Heart’s curriculum to be culturally and specifically relevant to include a contemplative (secular Buddhist), Nepalese secular, Vedic and Buddhist aspects in the curriculum. 


 

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