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31 May

Nepalese Adventure: Former King’s Headmaster, Tim Keyes visits Nepal

Tim Keyes (former Head of King’s) and John Walton (former Deputy Head of King’s St Alban’s) are both trustees of a charity,  the Himalayan Trust UK, established by one of the Everest ’53 mountaineers George Band, to support education and health in a remote part of the north east corner of Nepal.  George was the first person to reach the summit of Kanchenjunga, the most famous landmark in that part of the country, and the third highest mountain in the world.

HTUK supports 29 schools, each in its own village community, and 6 health posts.  The central mission of the charity is to train teachers to be child-friendly and innovative, and to train up health professionals, especially assistant midwives, ideally women who live in these remote communities.  The charity has also rebuilt a large number of classrooms to replace buildings destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal.  Just back from his travels with John and a group of seven supporters including two former King’s parents, Tim comments: “We had a most successful trip.  It was hard going at times in that we spent the best part of three weeks with our hiking boots on, walking up and down steep and sometimes treacherous mountain paths, visiting the scattered communities in which HTUK operates.  Heavy rain, leeches and landslides were among the obstacles that we had to overcome.

“The training programmes are delivered by two NGOs based in Kathmandu, but the education trainers in particular spend a lot of their time in the field, visiting schools and running training events.  We visited most of the same schools two years ago, and are pleased to report that every school is making good progress in implementing the training.  Our job was to observe, listen to the comments and requests of teachers and parents, encourage the trainers, teachers, Heads and children and then to ensure that we have the right strategy and budget in place for the next few years.  We had a wonderful welcome in every place we visited.  It is a world away from King’s, but it was heart-warming to see really effective education being delivered in one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal resources but with dynamic leadership and wholehearted commitment by teachers. This is an exciting time in the country’s history: last Autumn, after 50 years of repressive monarchy ending in a 10 year civil war, followed by 12 years of political in-fighting and a revolving door of different ineffective and often corrupt coalitions, Nepal has a new constitution, a new federal structure and a government with a five-year mandate to get the country moving.  The early signs are very promising.”