BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Sci/Tech
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 22 October, 2001, 07:42 GMT 08:42 UK
Village in the clouds embraces computers
Students using computers in Nepal
Himanchal High School now has 15 computers
Mahabir Pun is a Nepalese educational pioneer who is trying to break the cycle of poverty in his mountain village of Nangi by taking it into the computer age. Having founded Himanchal High School, he sees the internet as the way to improve the children's education.

The internet has been a great help for Nangi, even though we do not have a connection here.

One of my professors had helped me to put a simple website about my village and school on the web in 1996. That website has connected my village to the outside world, and I think my village is the first one in Nepal to be on the internet.

If we walk about six or seven hours outward in any direction from our village and ask the people there where Nangi is, most of the people will have no idea.

Mahabir Pun
Mahabir: Bringing the future to Nepal
With the simple website we have now, people from around the world have been able to locate my village and have come to volunteer.

We regularly get volunteers from America, Britain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland and Malaysia.

Those who have not been able to visit have also helped different ways, such as sending books, teaching materials, and money as a donation.

Moreover, students from Australia and America have been writing letters to our pupils as penpals through ordinary mail.

'Wooden' computers

In order to connect my village to the internet, I have installed two small hydro-generators in the stream near our village for power for the school.

nepalese students assemble computer
Computers assembled by students
We got some computers from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia as donation. I also collected some used computer parts in the US and took them to the village and assembled the parts in wooden boxes, building 14 computers.

I carried the parts in two suitcases. Most of them were 486 DX2 models and some Pentium I models, with Window 95 and Microsoft Office 97.

I built the first one, showing the students and computer teacher how to do it it. Then they built the rest of them.

Used computer parts
Used parts placed in wooden cases
We bought new monitors for them from the city because I could not carry the monitors.

Now we have 15 computers in our school, which has about 300 students from six neighbouring villages.

As far as I know this is the only community school in the entire country that provides computer classes for high school students.

Click here to tell us of similar projects you are involved in

Until now only rich private schools in the cities offered computer classes to their students. Most students in the rural areas of Nepal have never seen a computer.

Internet is a day away

We got a telephone in the village in 1998. My whole idea for bringing the telephone was to have internet access in the village. However, I found that the quality of the line was not good enough.

Students in Nepal
Most students in the rural areas have never seen a computer
Since then I have been trying to find ways and means to get a telephone line good enough to get the internet in the village.

At the moment, we have to walk down for a full day to the nearest city where an internet service is available to communicate with people from around the world.

We do it about once a month. It would be so nice to have the internet in the village so that we can respond immediately.

I found out that we could use satellite telephone to get internet access to our village. However, that is beyond what we can afford.

I always kept my ears open to hear if there is some way to get net access in my village.

Benefits from the web

I have seen that even a small village like mine can benefit a lot from the internet.

Nepalese schoolchildren
Net to provide quality education for children
We can use it to generate money for the village, to provide quality education for our children, to provide information about our culture to children all over the world, and to invite volunteers to come to our village.

If everything goes well, I plan to build a college in my village and provide computer courses to the students. This will open a door for us to produce computer programmers in the village, and produce software for the big firms around the world.

This may sound like an ambitious idea, but I believe that it can be done. The main purpose behind this idea is to create jobs for the students who graduate from our college.

Internet access will be the key for the success of this plan.


Click here to return

Are you involved in a similar project? If you've got a story to tell, we are interested in hearing it. Please remember to add your e-mail address so we can get in contact with you.

This is a heartwarming story, and one we can all learn from. It is great to see technology being used to expand these children's education, rather than make industrial users huge sums of cash. I have travelled the world extensively so know what this means to the people concerned.
Darren , England

This is a fantastic project. As someone who works in the computer industry, it is great to see an actual benefit to the work we do in software and hardware. I would really like to know more about this project to see if there is anyway I can help with this.
Christopher Lewis, United Kingdom

It is a great shame that Mahabir cannot get his village connected to the internet

Andy Baxman
A wonderful story of hope and determination. It is a great shame that Mahabir cannot get his village connected to the internet. I'm fairly sure that any of the large telecom companies could afford to bear the cost of setting up a satellite or microwave link, and the positive publicity would go some way to offset the cost.

I would like to wish Mahabir every sucess in his endeavour, its about time that the internet was seen as a force for good.
Andy Baxman, UK

Very heartwarming. May the pioneer teacher's tribe increase.
B V L Narayanarow, India

Being a user and advocate of open source technology, I would like to mention that many countries, organisations and individuals, both rich and poor, are considering it as a viable alternative to proprietary systems. Open source not only reduces costs, but also provides a great learning environment. It is a shame that so many places around the world are deprived of new technology just because of prohibitive licensing costs.
ASajjad Zaidi, Japan

A simple forwarding system for e-mail could be set up via amateur radio. If one person in the village could gain a basic licence, this would enable access to amateur radio satellites that provide data forwarding for many isolated communities around the world. I believe that Nepal has a small Amateur Radio Society, they would be a good starting point.
Gary Threlfall, England

A cheap(er) alternative allowing connection to internet would be packet radio. Although only low bandwidth it would allow mail delivery and other 'batch' processes. A couple of shortwave radios, suitable interface and Linux would do the job.
Jon Lynes, UK

I think this is actually a very good idea. it at the very least shows progress in the way technology could be used to elevate what governmental initiatives haven't been able to touch, due to the sheer numbers of people.
Sunil, USA

I am interested in the line quality problem of remote area access to the internet. I know that Distinctive has done a lot of work on multiplexers that create increased traffic capacity for copper twisted pairs. Couldn't the same technique be used to create greater redundancy for improvement of signals to internet suited levels?
Keith Hill, UK

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.

See also:

30 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nepal
06 Jun 01 | South Asia
Nepal tragedy raises internet profile
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories