Koulu School continues its journey from Burning Man to Nepal
Last time we met Elina Koivisto and Anssi Laurila right after they had returned from Burning Man with their project Koulu on Fire. Now, they are sitting in the lobby of Design Factory, but in a few weeks, they will be heading towards Kathmandu, Nepal, to the pilot Koulu School in cooperation with Finn Church Aid and Demos Helsinki.
Koulu School is a peer-learning concept that was originally developed in 2012 by Demos Helsinki. The main idea is simple: everyone has something to teach and a great lesson consists of five main elements. In August, a multi-disciplinary team from Aalto and passionate doers from around Finland and its surroundings tested the concept during the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA. During the pilot, more than one hundred new teachers were trained how to teach others and the feedback received was extremely positive and enthusiastic. Next, the concept will be tested in even more extreme conditions.
“The culture and society are very different in Nepal. Furthermore, we do not even have a shared language, so we need to work with an interpreter. Neither do we know how the peer-learning model will be perceived by the locals”, Elina Koivisto sums up.
An open mind and a humble attitude
The delegation in Nepal consists of representatives from Aalto, Finn Church Aid, and Demos Helsinki. During the week, several training days will be organised. Within them, participants include local teachers, students from teacher training, volunteers, students from vocational school, and education sector decision makers and officials.
“The idea is to illustrate the fact that everyone has something to teach. For this reason, it is great that the participants have such diverse backgrounds. Moreover, we are only vaguely familiar with the local educational system, so this is a great opportunity for us to learn”, says Elina Koivisto.
Anssi Laurila agrees and continues: “Compared to Burning Man, my role has shifted from project management to implementation. I am really eager to be able to concentrate on the actual doing”.
The experiences from Kathmandu will be used for refining the Koulu School concept and furthering the project. “Our objective is to collect data that will enable us to develop Koulu to be as impactful as possible. Moreover, this data will help us in applying for international funding and implementing the concept in other locations. In addition, Finn Church Aid wants to find out if the model would support their work in refugee situations or after crisis work, for instance in Education in Emergencies operations”, concludes Elina Koivisto.