Nepalese teacher refused entry visa

Jill Tunstall

A tiny rural school moved mountains to raise enough money to renovate a school high up in a Moaist stronghold in the Himalayas - but bringing one of their teachers to Wales proved a greater struggle.

Pupils and staff at Ysgol Maes Hyfryd Cynwyd, near Corwen, Denbighshire, raised pound;15,000 to build a school and help provide running water for 300 pupils in the remote Dhading region of Nepal. However, when they invited teacher Nil Sundar Sanju from the Jaeleswar school to visit them, he was refused a visa by the British Embassy.

Disappointed deputy head, Dilys Ellis, has vowed to battle with officials for one of the teachers to arrive in Wales next spring. Pupils are now busy raising money to refund Mr Sanju's visa interview fee of $1,000 - equivalent to a Nepalese teacher's monthly salary. And they are also holding an art auction on Sunday to finance books and paint for the school.

Mrs Ellis, who has visited Nepal four times, said: "We are disappointed. I believe the teacher's English was too poor and, because the interpreter didn't have much money or property, he was considered a risk."

Mrs Ellis visited the school for the first time in 2000 and was horrified by the state of the building. When she returned home she set about a mission to help them.

She said: "It was a great shock, like travelling back in time 300 years.

The school had no windows, no floor, mud walls and a corrugated roof with holes in it, like we would keep animals in in this country. We could not believe such poverty existed in the world.

"Lessons were all 'chalk and talk' with no books, but children would walk for up to an hour to get there each day. The modernised 10-classroom school has practically been built around the children."

The British Council's department for international development (DFID) has provided pound;12,000 to help schools forge links through the Wales Nepal project.

Andy Egan, team leader of the global schools' partnership at DFID, said:

"We can't comment on individual cases but this is the first time we are aware of a refusal of a visa for a Nepalise teacher.

"We will continue to support the school in the hope of a positive outcome."

David Pheonix, Denbighshire county council's adviser for international awareness in schools, said that what the school had achieved was incredible.

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Jill Tunstall

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