Behind the Blackboard Bungamati was conducted in June in privately run Dibya Joyti English Medium School in Bungmati, Lalitpur, Nepal 2017. Altogether 10 students from the grades seven, eight andten participated the workshop.
Dibya Joyti English Medium School is a small educational institution located in Bungamati, an area dominated by Newar population, historical inhabitants of Kathmandu valley. The students of the school come from widely divergent socio-economic backgrounds.
Nepal´s devastating earthquakes in 2015 hit strongly to Bungamati area and the main building of the school got also damaged and became unsafe for the students. The teaching was therefore switched to two temporary tin shelters built to school´s property.. The first of the shelters was built by students and teachers of School of Arts of Kathmandu University who worked and helped people in the area immediately after the earthquakes. The shelter which was designed just for short term temporary use provides space for teaching of primary school students and has open walls to the side of the school yard. The second shelter was built by Nepalese and Japanese NGO´s and is used for teaching of junior secondary school students. The second shelter is more house like with doors and plexiglass windows.
In the beginning of the workshop the students were asked to form small groups and discuss about problems within their school community. The problems were listed and discussed together with the whole workshop group. Then the students were introduced to basics of conducting a survey research. To find out the opinions of all the students in their school the students designed and ran a survey for the whole school community.
In their research the students found material inadequates and social issues inside their school community. The material inadequates were considered more serious than the school´s social problems. The most visible problems were related to the temporary tin shelters. Most of the students said that their everyday life in school has become difficult after the 2015 earthquakes. There were water leakages to class rooms from the walls and roofs of the tin shelters, and tin walls didn´t isolate noise. Due to rainfall and noise from other students it was difficult for many to hear what the teachers were teaching.
The survey findings were discussed with the workshop participants and they started to develop solutions for the highlighted issues in small groups. Developing solutions lasted several days during which the students worked in groups and individually in school as well in a field trip. The students were also shown examples of different artists works to inspire them to develop innovative and fresh solutions. After many proposals the students ended up to an idea to develop sound proofing system for tin shelter schools from local materials: bamboo, straws, canes and egg trays. The idea was that in that way the sound proofing could be done in any of the various tin shelter schools built after 2015 earthquakes around the country. The students got also an idea to build indoor garden inside their class rooms which would bring life to the tin shelter rooms and also increase the reputation of their school. In spite of enthusiasm the students had for the garden the building was postponed due to tight schedule and time needed for the soundproofing.
The materials for the proofing were gathered mainly from local sources around Bungamati except most of the egg trays which were gathered from Kathmandu and canes that were donated for the project from Bunga Dyah Jatra, a chariot procession of Buddhist deity of compassion Avalokitesvara.
Due to it´s stronger structure the shelter which was used for teaching of elder students was chosen for soundproofing. The work was conducted by building a bamboo structure to the inner walls of the shelter school which was then filled tightly with heavy layer of straw bundles. The structure was covered with two layers of egg trays tight together to panels with recycled rope. The soundproofing participated many students outside the workshop group and developed to a communal process which continued to the point that their parents needed to come and pick them up at the late hours of school days.