If you are from Kathmandu
valley then Budhanilkantha School might not be new for you and, if you are an
outsider still not to worry about as I will be presenting about it and its
The idea of establishing a model school that would provide quality education to students coming from every walk of life, was initiated by the Late King Mahendra in consultation with the then British Council representative, Lynndon Clough. After much planning and forethought, a joint venture between the Government of the United Kingdom (technical and financial assistance) and the Government of Nepal (access to land) made Budhanilkantha School come into existence in 1972. It is commonly known as BNKS which is named after the Budhanilkantha Temple, a famous Hindu temple located nearby. The school campus is situated in a serene and spacious environment, providing a conducive atmosphere for learning. It offers various facilities, including well-equipped classrooms, science and computer labs, a library, sports grounds, and hostels for residential students.
Budhanilkantha school places a high value on character development and strives to generate responsible and disciplined students. The school encourages students to participate in sports, cultural activities, and social service initiatives in addition to academic disciplines. It also has various clubs and societies that cater to students' interests, such as music, dance, debate, and photography. Budhanilkantha School has produced numerous successful graduates who have succeeded in academia, business, politics, and the arts over the years. The school has played a significant role in shaping the educational landscape of Nepal and continues to remain one of the country's most prominent schools.
Mr. Dhruba Kumar Shrestha, M.Sc. graduate in Natural Resources Management, has been working as a senior teacher in Budhanilkantha School nearly three decades. He is the initiator of BNKS Knowledge Park. Without his proposal, hard work and dedication, the dream ‘BNKS Knowledge Park’ would not have been possible. Along with him, Mr. Hom Nath Acharya, the Principal of the school and Mr. Kashiram Sharma, the chief Administrative Officer of the school have been truly supportive and motivating since the beginning of its concept. The concept of BNKS Knowledge Park was initiated and began to be materialized on April 14, 2021 (1st Baisakh, 2078 BS). The site of the Park is located at the northern side of the existing Pestalozzi Vocational Centre (PVC) Building of the school and has occupied approximately 150 ropani of area coverage.
The primary objective of the Park is to develop a Model Educational Hub where students can learn different aspects of life skills practically based on "Learning by Doing and Seeing is Believing" philosophy. Other objectives include:
· To produce fresh vegetables, fruits and medicinal herbs for the school kitchen, staff and well-wishers.
· To exploit the waste land of school wisely for income generating activities.
· To develop an eco-friendly garden where different components are directly/indirectly inter connected and interrelated with each other.
· To develop a field gene bank where the rare and valuable species of plants are conserved in their natural environment.
The knowledge park is blessed with different components. It resembles a beautiful piece of nature. The special features of this park are discussed as:
· Home garden unit: A model kitchen/home garden is made on the premises of the Knowledge Park. Its main objective is to teach the students to design and operate home garden suitable for a family. It also aims to provide seedlings of seasonal vegetables and other materials to the school family at subsidized rates.
· Coffee garden: It has occupied approximately 8 ropani of area. It is a shady area and suitable for coffee plants. More than 700 saplings of Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica) have been planted in the site and its performance seemed encouraging. Planning for installation of a coffee processing unit in the site is being done to serve organic coffee to the school kitchen and visitors.
· Cardamom block: Trimmed utis trees (Alnus nepalensis) have been providing shade to more than 5000 saplings of different varieties of cardamom. The area of the block is about 10 ropani and 2000 saplings of Ramsai variety and 3000 saplings of TODE (Bharlang) variety have been planted in the site. After harvest, fresh cardamom will be served to the school kitchen and visitors.
· Biodiversity garden: The School Biodiversity Garden was established at the School in 2013 AD with the financial support from USC Canada Asia and technical support from National Agriculture Gene Bank, Khumaltar. Approximately 20 ropani of land is occupied by the garden and its primary objective is to conserve the economically important indigenous species of plants: fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants and other rare plants in the field itself. There are two different blocks under the biodiversity garden:
ü Fruit diversity garden: Indigenous fruits from different ecological regions are planted in the block including; apple, peach, pear, plum, chestnut, kiwi, walnut, khamo, chuli, persimmon, Nepalese hog plum, lime, lemon, trifoliate, pumelo, citron, orange, cumquat, guava, jamun, pomegranate, mango, etc.
ü Medicinal plant block: Valuable medicinal plants found in different parts of the country are planted in the block. The major medicinal plants are: serpentine, aloe vera, asparagus, wild garlic, sweet flag, malabar nut tree, cinnamon, mugwort, himalayan yew, lemon grass, gooseberry, toothache tree, bengal quince, water pennywort, mentha, turmeric, ginger, etc.
Vegetable production block: It is one of the major components of BNKS Knowledge Park and has been supported by the Krishi Gyan Kendra, Lalitpur under the PMAMP (Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project) of Provincial Government of Bagmati Province and started from April 14, 2021 (1st Baisakh, 2078 BS) here at the School. Nearly 30 ropani of land is occupied by the project. There are altogether 30 structures for vegetable production purposes (temporary structures: 26 plastic tunnels and permanent structures:4). These structures facilitate the production of off-season vegetables in the farm.
High value vegetables: tomato, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, akabare, coriander, cabbage, asparagus, cucumber, sponge gourd, bitter gourd, summer squash, pumpkin, bottle gourd, beans, cowpea, carrot, radish, broad leaf mustard, are grown as per their season. Besides this, vegetables are growing in open areas as well as per their normal growing season. It is moving towards the organic farming technique and vermicompost, cow dung, poultry manure, compost, azolla, liquid manure, Pseudomonas, Tricoderma, Azetobactor, mycorrhiza are being used as the main source of nutrients for the plants. Drip irrigation system, EM Technology, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, inter cropping/mixed cropping/relay cropping, companion cropping systems are applied in the farm.
· Fruit orchard: The northern open site adjoining with the Saraswoti temple is the allocated area for the fruit garden of BNKS Knowledge Park. It has occupied about 40 ropani of land and more than 1200 high value fruits: avocado, persimmon, star fruit, sun kagati, cumquat, guava, jamun, mango, macadamia nut, pecan nut, pear, peach, etc. were already planted. Layout and plantation were accomplished with the support from the Department of Environment, Babarmahal and District Forest Office, Hattisar, Kathmandu.
· Mushroom unit: This is one of the new projects of BNKS Knowledge Park in which priority is given to produce Shiitake mushroom considering the availability of the raw materials in the locality. It has been supported by the Krishi Gyan Kendra, Lalitpur. Mushroom Seed Nepal and Research Centre Pvt. Ltd, Nayathimi, Bhaktapur and other related institutions are also coordinated for technical support. Production of Shiitake mushrooms is ongoing.
· Mini nursery and High-tech fruit nursery: Mini nursery is taken as the plant bank of BNKS Knowledge Park where varieties of economically important indigenous plants are kept with proper care for further multiplication and replanting in the fruit garden. High tech fruit nursery is also one of the new projects of the Knowledge Park and supported by the Agriculture Department of the Budhanilkantha Municipality, Hattigauda. The main objective of the project is to involve the students to propagate the high value fruits to generate income for the students themselves and farm as well.
· Biodiversity trail: Biodiversity trail from the existing metal workshop to the vegetable production block has been already completed. It facilitates collecting the required materials/equipment for the farm, to dispatch the produce and also makes it convenient to visit the different components of the Park within a short period of time. This project has been supported by the ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Department of Roads, Minbhawan, Kathmandu.
· BNKS seed library: It is the place of collection of indigenous seeds of economically important plants found in different agro- climatic zones of the country. It is one of the important practical activities of the students under life skills education where students are assigned to collect the important seeds of their locality with detailed information and present it in the class as a part of the project work.
· Bee keeping unit: As plenty of honey flora are available in the surroundings, it seems there is a good possibility of apiculture in the park. It facilitates pollination and also helps to increase the production of fruits and vegetables in the farm. Apis cerana species of 6 populated hives are already kept in the farm and planning to increase its numbers in the days ahead. It facilitates the students to learn different aspects of Apiculture practically.
· Animal husbandry unit: This was one of the proposed projects of BNKS Knowledge Park and the proposed site is just above the existing vegetable production block. It is estimated to bring around 30 cattle in the unit and become self- reliant in milk and its products. Initially, few cows will be kept and its capacity will be increased gradually in the days ahead. In addition, with this, goat, swine, rabbit, poultry, will also be added in the unit. The initial field levelling work has been already completed for the purpose and the construction work of cowshed along with its interior design are in progress. As cow dung and urine are essential inputs of organic farming, this project is supposed to be the foundation for the farm.
· Solid waste management: Budhanilkantha School is a fully residential school and approximately 700-800 kg solid waste is released each day. 3R Principle (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) is followed to manage the waste. Organic waste is used to prepare compost required for crops growing in the farm. EM Technology is being used to prepare compost. Vermiculture unit: Eisenia foetida (Red worm) is used for vermicomposting purposes. Liquid manure is being prepared and used regularly.
· Micro hydro power house: This is one of the attractive demonstration projects where people can learn how energy is generated from the limited source of water. Its capacity is 300 watts, the smallest micro hydro unit in the country, probably in the world as well. This project was completed in 1997 and still it is in good condition in which financial support was received from Pestalozzi Overseas Children's Trust (POCT), UK, technical support from Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), Nepal and turbine was manufactured in Patan Yantrashala.
And now there are still
many projects yet to be implemented. Some of the future projects are discussed
Post-harvest technology unit: It is the proposed project of the BNKS Knowledge Park. Solar dryer, electric dryer and other appropriate equipment will be used for the purpose. This project will be run in combination with the cooking unit of the life skills education. It includes the techniques of chana/sukuti, sinki, pickles, gundruk, tomato ketchup, jam, jelly, marmalade, fermented food items (wine).
· Aquaculture unit: At least 2 ponds (plastic pokhari) are planned to be constructed to collect water for irrigation and facilitate aquatic ecosystems in the park. Aquatic plants; azolla, simrayo, lotus, and aquatic animals; fish, tortoise, frogs, were planned to be included in the unit.
· High tech bio lab: It is another proposed dream project of the BNKS Knowledge Park. It will be well-equipped with the modern scientific equipment where microclimatic elements: relative humidity/moisture, light, rainfall, temperature, will be maintained as per the requirements. It will be the computerized system where appropriate Apps with sensors will be installed and connected with the person concerned. Tissue culture, inoculation, disease/insect identification, plant propagation, seed germination test, incubation and other sensitive experiments will be carried out in the lab. CC cameras will be installed at proper places. It is supposed to be an ideal place to carry out the practical activities and other aspects of life skills education.
· Electrification unit:
Electric lines with the required number of electric poles will be fixed in
different parts of the Knowledge Park to facilitate its various activities. The
Nepal Electricity Authority is supporting to complete this project.
· Mini library: Map of the park, brochure, proposals, booklets, pamphlets, leaflets, text books, reference books and other educational materials will be managed at the premises of the Park to facilitate the teaching-learning activities.
Apart from them other components will also be added to the BNKS Knowledge Park in due course of time to make it a true Educational and Innovation Centre of the nation.
Truly, BNKS Knowledge Park is inspiring students to learn about the agricultural activities in their daily lives. During our visit, we interviewed one of the students of class 6 and he said, “I wanted to study in this school and it feels like my dream came true. In my previous school I was not much active and this somehow hindered my personal development but now I am more than satisfied with the learning from this one.” He even showed his work which was planting of persimmons in a plastic bag with proper labelling. We were really thankful toward Resham Shahi, teaching personnel and alumni of BNKS for his time and made our visit really fruitful. He said, “I am more than happy to be a part of it and serve my own school. I am hopeful that the concept of knowledge park will be disseminated all over the country and students will be more practically- trained and learning will be effective.” Taking BNKS as an inspiring institute, different schools all over Nepal have taken the initiative of implementing the motto of BNKS. Dhruba Kumar Shrestha sir is truly happy with these steps of schools and he wishes for the new world of practical education and learning through further more interventions and initiatives.
Certainly, knowing about BNKS Knowledge Park is not only enough unless you yourself won’t visit it once. It really motivated us and we are eager to pay our visit to the park in upcoming days too. Not only school level students but also university level professors, can pay their visits to an ideal learning center for better learning. You are welcomed there every time so just grab your camera and let’s meet up there again for yet another fruitful learning and experience.
(The author is pursuing an Msc in agriculture from TU and she can be contacted at email@example.com)