Interview with Umesh Shrestha, Ushakiran Wagle and Sagun Shrestha

Interview description

Umesh Shrestha, Ushakiran Wagle and Sagun Shrestha talk about some of the issues they face supporting English teachers in Nepal, both as trainers and working through the Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association.


NELTA is an excellent model for a national association in a low-income country with 85% of the population rural and often situated in hard-to-access localities, branches in 43 out of 75 districts, many in the Himalayan Mts.

Few national ELT associations have an architecture with so many existing local branches, reaching out into very remote geographies and topographies of teaching. Here an overview of the 43 branches:   Quite extraordinary.

  • One key related question: how many teachers of English in Nepal, at private schools and at government schools, are members of NELTA?   This seems to some of us an important question for all national ELT 'Associates' connected with IATEFL.  In many countries, the membership in the ELT association is a very small fraction (even less than 2%) of all EFL teachers in the country. In fact, the actual percentage is often not really known, and there is little solid research on this.  I think a research desideratum. Teachers are often reluctant to join such an organization since they wonder what they 'get' as members.
  • One aspect of teacher development and training is to RECOMMEND AS POLICY that ministries of education strongly encourage or even mandate teachers to join professional ELT organizations in their home countries, and that ministries help support that financially.  Few countries at present do this.  Of course, associations like NELTA reach many teachers who are not actual members. But it would greatly strengthen the ELT association in a number of countries, including in Europe, if such a membership were made highly desired or even required of novice and experienced teachers. It might galvanize new forms of teacher networking and PTD. In the view of some of us, the IATEFL leadership could/should be encouraging thinking along these lines, even advocacy. Also that education ministries encourage EFL teachers working in their state schools TO JOIN  international associations like IATEFL, and where necessary, yes, provide financial support. This seems a reasonable demand, helping to expand an open armature for teacher development through such association membership. Ministries should also strongly encourage teachers of other subjects (math, geogrphy, art, etc.) to join a national professional association oreven to create one. Often they don't. Such national association could develop a network of local branches, like NELTA, with activities at the local level, not just in some larger city. In Germany, MELTA in Munich is largely an urban association centered on Munich (see the interview with two MELTA reps at this conference, although MELTA membership is largely comprised of ex-pat teachers and freelancers, not local German teachers in the primary and secondary state schools.

Here the NELTA website:  You can join cost-free to receive their regular news.

Women in Nepal, especially in the vast rural areas, face very special challenges, here an insightful recent article: