A Village Kindergarten

The Kindergarten at Marpha Foundation’s Rosehips Center for Creative Learning provides an accessible and child-centric early learning program for up to 30 children each year. As a community initiated project, it represents a successful model for collaboration between families from different castes and socioeconomic statuses, and creates a precedent for culturally responsive experiential learning in rural Nepal.

Marpha’s government school nursery program wasn’t meeting the needs of Marpha’s youngest students and parents. As a result, more affluent families sent their children out of the village for school, and challenges in local education became the exclusive problem of  marginalized and low-income families. This created unofficial segregation in education along socioeconomic and caste lines.  But attitudes are changing; a new generation of parents is working with Marpha Foundation  to improve education from the ground up.

 In March 2016, after an 18-month collaboration with mothers across castes, the Rosehips Center opened the first all-day Kindergarten in Marpha. The kindergarten has an emergent curriculum that responds to the interests and specific needs of learners aged 18 months to five years old.  Activities integrate art, storytelling, games, food preparation, gardening and mindfulness to gradually develop school readiness skills like literacy, numeracy, group work and inquiry. A flexible fee structure ensures accessibility, fosters family investment, and contributes to a sustainable income strategy.

Opening the kindergarten also created seven full-time positions for local women. Their training focuses on developing self-awareness, via reflection and feedback, and collaborative skills to design a place-based curriculum that synthesizes philosophies from Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori approaches. The kindergarten also created two dedicated fellowship positions for talented early childhood educators from around the world to contribute their time and skills working alongside local teachers.