Blog post

Reflections on piloting lessons for a Nepal Arts Education Framework/Curriculum

28th June 2024

Binod Prasad Pant, Kathmandu University

From October 2023 to July 2024, Kathmandu University partnered with MAP to develop a pilot Nepal Arts Education Framework, focusing on integrating MAPs arts-based exercises into existing secondary school curricula. This was a need articulated at the UNESCO-MAP Roundtable in September 2023. The pilot Framework provides a case study of promising practices to inform the implementation of the UNESCO Framework on Culture and Arts Education (February 2024). This blog outlines a snapshot of some of the learnings and approaches taken during the pilot, written by Binod Prasad Pant, Head of the Department of STEAM Education at Kathmandu University’s School of Education…

A group of five MPhil in STEAM Education students from the School of Education (KUSOED), at Kathmandu University (in Nepal), developed 25 integrated arts-based lessons and trialed them in both public and private secondary school classes from January – February 2024, in the Kathmandu Valley and beyond. The principles of the MAP manual and considerations of artful pedagogy informed the delivery of the lessons. In particular, guiding principles for lesson development focused on 1) an interdisciplinary approach combining arts with other disciplines i.e. math’s and art, English and art; infusing existing national curricula with arts-based exercises beyond the social sciences 2) Adding/adapting, being open to working with existing cultural art forms such as Deuda or Mithali arts and exploring in the lessons how they are evolving 3) Playfulness, as a complementary approach to creativity and learner-centered teaching styles. After reviewing the MAP manual and the National Curriculum of Nepal, five research students developed 25 lessons.

The team of researchers tried to develop interdisciplinary activities in which two or more subjects are linked in a meaningful context. The present school curriculum of Nepal provides opportunities for interdisciplinary activities. Therefore, the piloted lessons support the entire Nepali education system by promoting the interdisciplinary nature of learning. Whilst designing activities, the team kept in mind the idea of playfulness at the centre, whereby students can creatively explore different social issues and connect them with different subject-specific knowledge and skills. For example, one lesson aimed to identify the things that create the identity of Nepal in the world by describing the importance and meaning of a nation’s pride. The resources were script/text about multiculturalism, bravery, the national flag, the national anthem, Mt. Everest, and Lumbini. The materials used during the implementation included chart paper, the national flag, photos/images, videos, and an interactive board with an internet connection

Roleplay and drama was conducted in different groups, namely:

Graphite Group: Multi-culturalism

Titanium Group: Bravery

Diamond Group: National Flag & National Anthem

Fusion Group: Lumbini (the birthplace of the Buddha) & the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest

Each group shared their experiences. Such activities provided opportunities to reflect on the following questions:

1. How do you feel while performing the drama?

2. How do you feel while watching other groups’ performances on migration?

3. How does learning through the use of drama add value to your learning?

In each lesson, the teacher/researcher also made critical reflections. In this particular lesson, the critical reflection from the researcher is shared below:

I had planned to conduct the ‘car and driver game’ as an icebreaker in an entertaining way. Though all students participated, it was not so fun and romantic due to the narrow spaces in the classroom. I should take students out of the classroom and conduct such games on the open ground to make them entertaining and stress-relieving. I divided group tasks before a day so all members of the group prepared well and participated actively. However, I observed that few students hesitated to perform their roles and were led by selected students only. I should create an environment for equal participation and encourage those students to take the lead in the coming days. The Graphite group performed on multiculturism, but the group members themselves were not presented with multiculturalism. I have to form a multicultural group by including students from different genders, castes, religions, customs, etc. as far as practicable. Students presented bravery as our national identity but did not include all past and present events that prove Gorkhas as brave in the international arena. I have to provide some YouTube videos link and reading resources in advance for such history-related topics so students explore more and more which benefits all in the class. The fusion group prepared their topic on chart paper and presented it conventionally. I should guide them to use multiple colors and encourage them to perform in dramatic ways i.e. reader theater, which makes content easy to understand. I asked only a few students to provide comments on the presentations. However, it is necessary to include more from multiple perspectives. 

From the entire work, the team realized that the art-based approach to education developed engagement in learning and promoted a critical understanding of the subject matter in connection with real-life issues.

Acknowledgments: the researchers are Dilli Bahadur Raut, Durga Pandey, Upama KC, Srijana Kumari Pathak and Tejendra Lamsal, and Binod Prasad Pant as their mentor from Kathmandu University’s School of Education.