NELTA Event of Surkhet
– Raju Chitrakar
NELTA Surkhet hosted second phase of 15th NELTA International Conference. Despite few weaknesses, the ceremony was taken to be a grand success. It gave good message not only to the participants, but also to the host and its centre.
The conference took place from 24 to 25 February 2010. NELTA Surkhet labored hard with a sense of fortune to host the conference and a chance to show the branch’s ability. The branch certainly got the chance to be fortunate. But how much it became able to show its ability is in the judgment of the participants.
On the following day after the NELTA International Conference in Kanthmandu, 21 Feb., Professor Dr. Jayraj Awasthi, NELTA Chair Gangaram Gautam, Dr. Numa Markee, the key note speaker of the conference and Kate Miller, a UK English language fellow, flew to Surkhet. They took pre-conference class on course designing to the teachers of degree level of different campuses. Many national and international participants arrived the venue the same day.
The inaugural ceremony was conducted on the morning of 24 February. Welcoming all the delegates and participants Mr. Balaram Khadka, the campus chief of Surkhet Campus Education, thanked the central committee of NELTA for its decision to conduct the conference at Birendranagar. Prof. Dr. Tirth Khania, the Member of National Planning Commission, was the chief guest. He expressed the possibility of government working with NELTA in the matter of developing ELT situation in Nepal. He even promised to play a positive role for this. Prof. Dr. Jayraj Awasthi flashed back the time when he came to Birendranagar by standing on the hood of a truck to open NELTA branch in Surkhet in the year 1996. He also expressed his satisfaction with the development of the branch and wished its betterment. Ms. Amanda Jacobson, Cultural Affairs Representative of US Embassy, highlighted the contribution of American Centre in developing ELT in Nepal. Mr. Ewan Davies, Deputy Director of British Council, highlighted the school links British Council has been making to develop performance of English teachers of Nepal. Dr. Numa Markee, the key note speaker, praised the contribution of NELTA in developing ELT situation in Nepal. Mr. Bhusan Manandhar, President of Mid- western University Establishment Committee, expressed the need of foreign help in the development of human resource in the context of their effort in developing Birendranagar as an educational zone. Mr. Uttam Gaulee, President of NELTA Surkhet branch, revealed the effort of Surkhet branch to coordinate in the region and thanked all for their respective roles in holding the mega event at Birendranagar. There were around twenty foreign and twenty Nepalese delegates and over 400 participants of over 200 schools of Mid- and-far-western regions. The theme of the conference was “English in diversity.”
The participants were delighted to see before them and hear the insightful presentations of Numa Markee, the key note speaker, of Kate Miller, and of their guru Prof. Dr. Jayraj Awasthi in the plenaries. And they also felt enlightened by getting innovative methods of ELT from the presentations in the concurrent sessions of the foreign delegates like Prof. Dr. Stefan Colibaba, Susna Kennedy, Kate Miller, Susan Deith, Dr. Boguslaw Marek, Gretchen Coppedge, Dr. Numa Markee, Kateerine Lea, Deniel Stead, Marilyn Eversloe, Beth Trudell, Khalid Mehomood Ch and of many other foreign and Nepalese presenters. There was a cultural show from Folk Songs Academy Surkhet after the closing ceremony, which made most of the audience including NELTA President Mr. Gautam dance.
Ms. Kate Miller gave a three-day post-conference ToT to forty participants. All the participants were very happy to know the importance of learning English sounds in the journey of learning English. She found enormous hunger for learning in the participants. Miller had given a teacher training at Birendranagar two years ago, too. She found many of the participants of that time taking part at this time as well. However, she was surprised to find no any change i.e. professional development in them. Susan Kennedy from Australia summed up the experience: “Leading the Surkhet branch of Nepal English Teachers Association, Uttam demonstrated super organisational skills bringing together hundreds of local teachers and students and international speakers on a remote campus in Nepal for the 15th Annual Conference.”
Mr. Uttam Bista, an English from Kanchanpur district, said, “I have taught English several years, but only now I knew how to teach it.” Feeling the necessity of teacher development through academic organization like NELTA, Mr. Dhruba Shahi of Achham district said that he will also open NELTA branch in Mangalsen of Achham. Many participants were seen to be taking the addresses, mostly of the foreigners. What more aims than these NELTA event like this could have! Many participants were heard saying “grand success of the conference.”
However, despite our best efforts for good arrangement of the conference, we noticed so many weaknesses during the event. For example, we could not manage time, volunteers and reporters/rapporteurs; we could have managed some guest houses for some participants as the hotels were too expensive; there were some defects in multimedia and food managements; we all looked wild as we all had to do everything; the journal was not well-prepared and came few minutes late. And there were certainly many more.
We would have been happy if we had been reminded of the weaknesses. NELTA President Mr. Gautam only said, “There were some weaknesses but the conference was far better than the one we first conducted in Kathmandu.” Senior vice-chair Mr. Laxman Gnawali said, “The Surkhet event proved that we can conduct NELTA international conference even outside the capital.” General secretary Mr. Hemant Dahal expressed his satisfaction for his coordination in making the quick decision to conduct the conference at Birendranagar. Ms. Kate Miller said, “NELTA should do something for the teachers of remote areas of Nepal. Government should support for this. They should make a five year plan.” All the foreigners thanked for the management and hospitality. They praised the geographical features of the valley as well.
However the conference, we are thankful to the NELTA Central Committee for its quick decision without any hesitation. As our Chair Mr. Uttam Gaulee knew that I was going to attend the central meeting after the event, he said, “Please convey my thanks to the centre for their all supports to Surkhet branch.” All the foreign delegates including Dr. Numa Markee and Neplese delegates including Prof. Dr. Tirth Khania, Prof. Dr. Jayraj Awasthi are also thankful as without their presence the event could never have been so worthy. All the trainees must be thanked as the event could not have been successful without their presence. Donors like District Development Committee Surkhet, Surkhet Campus Education, different public and private schools are also thankful as their help made the works easier for us. And credit goes also to Surkhet Intellectual Forum (SIF) for its help in coordination. We are sure that if Surkhet or another branch gets another chance of holding such a mega event in the future, it will not leave any stone unturned.