The US Embassy’s Book Bus, Satori Center for the Arts and Quixote’s Cove have been organizing the Innovation in Education Fair (IEF) annually since 2016. The fair was initially conceived as a forum for educational professionals to discuss how to make teaching and learning practices more engaging, meaningful, and memorable for students and teachers. Each year, the fair has built on experiences and feedback of previous editions to improve its program structure, to facilitate richer discussions and encourage the adoption of innovative approaches to education in schools.
Our experience in 2016, made it obvious that the fair had an important role to play in encouraging a broader discussion on innovation in education at various levels. In response to feedback received from participating organizations, schools, teachers and educators, the 2017 edition of the fair was designed to make the fair’s experience more immersive and wide ranging. From a three day event featuring 18 introductory hour long workshops and a symposium in 2016, we expanded to incorporate over 40 different workshop sessions, presentations, performances and panel discussions over four days in 2017. In addition to this, in an attempt to extend the discussion on innovation in education, a two day edition of the fair was organized in Pokhara in late 2017.
While the feedback we received from the 2017 fairs was widely positive, two issues were raised by teachers attending the fair. First, they felt that the workshop times were inadequate to reflect upon the workshop experience and conversation with the facilitators. Secondly, many teachers said that while they understood the importance of adopting an innovative approach to teaching, it was not possible for them to actually implement such practices without support from their school’s leadership team.
IEF 2018 for teachers and school leaders
In 2018, in response to the feedback received, we organized a six day edition of IEF with the first two days of the fair dedicated to members of the school leadership team and the next three days set aside for teachers from these schools. The final day was set aside for reflection, exhibiting the output from the various workshops, and for consultation sessions to facilitate future planning between teachers, school leadership team members and participating organizations and educators.
In contrast to previous editions of the fair, workshops during IEF 2018 were hosted collaboratively by 2-4 participating organizations or individuals with each workshop given a three hour time slot. A total of 15 workshops, 6 for leadership and 9 for teachers, were hosted and a number of different presentations, performances and a panel discussion were held each day. This collaborative approach helped the various participating organizations learn more about each other, but the workshops themselves proved to be varied with some collaborators succeeding in working together to design a seamless experience, while others resorting to segmenting the three hours into individual time slot. In addition to this, because of logistical challenges, we were unable to host a substantive consultative session between participating organizations and schools.
Beginning with the IEF 2017 hosted in Pokhara, we had approached aligned government agencies and representatives to encourage the participation of public schools and a broader discussion on education. In 2018, we had worked with three municipality offices from around the Kathmandu Valley to explore potential ways that municipal bodies could work with IEF participating organizations and educators to build their educational plans and policies. With this in mind, we had also invited a number of municipal leaders from around Nepal to attend IEF 2018.
IEF 2019: Working with Damak Municipality
In 2019, we had originally intended to host IEF in Kalika municipality in Rasuwa, after the municipal chief had visited the 2018 IEF and sought to host a similar event for her municipality. Unfortunately, we were unable to organize IEF in Rasuwa this year due to logistical challenges. Earlier this year, in February 2019, the Book Bus had visited Damak in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) local office. During this visit, the Book Bus had organized a program on school leadership and given a presentation on IEF. Upon hearing this presentation, both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Damak Municipality along with the Damak UNHCR office were eager to host the fair in Damak.
IEF 2019 will be the first time we are collaborating with a municipality to host the fair. The municipality hopes that participating schools will develop an action plan after sitting through these workshops and is looking to incorporate some of these plans into its longer term educational strategy. In response to the municipality’s interests and building on what we have learnt from previous editions of the fair, we have adapted our program schedule in the hopes of making the fair a more immersive and meaningful experience for participating teachers and school leadership teams.
This year, the four day IEF 2019 will host six workshops, each of which will span over three days with a total of 12 hours of workshop time. Each workshop will be hosted by 2-3 different organizations and educators, and will have participants from the different public schools in Damak. One school will take the lead for each workshop and send a team to participate. Each school team will include a member of their leadership team, a parent representative and a few teachers. On the fourth and final day of the fair, workshop facilitators and schools will seek to prepare an action plan for each school.
Read about the IEF 2019 program here.