This paper discusses experiences from school-based needs assessment within a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project aimed at facilitating quality education in public schools of rural Nepal. Being often a first stage in the process of research-action, Participatory Needs Assessment (PNA) offers space for community members’ perceptions and attitudes toward their collective needs. In this light, this paper takes evidence from the first and the second authors’ Ph.D. experiences, under the supervision of the third and the fourth authors to initiate PNA of a school. Also, incorporating the reflections from the fifth author as a critical friend, it observes the political, epistemological, ethical, and methodological challenges of doing such assessments; the challenges of involving all the stakeholders in identifying problems, and the transformative possibilities the approach inherently brings within it. On the whole, the paper reflects how, despite manifold conflicting interests of the multi-group stakeholders, relational ontology(ies) emerged in the cyclical and spiral process.


participatory, needs assessment, quality education, transformative learning, relational ontology(ies)

Author Bio(s)

Shree Krishna Wagle (https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1371-7898) is a Ph.D. graduate in transformative education and research from Kathmandu University, School of Education, Nepal. Also, an MPhil graduate in educational leadership, Shree particularly makes research studies in the field related to educational philosophy, learning psychology, and ecological spirituality in education. At present, Shree is working with two books almost in the stage of publication (1) Inner Transformation and Professional Growth of Teachers and Educators and (2) Children of Shades: A little book to witness how a poorly conceived learning practices at school is the cause of emotional issues among learners.

Parbati Dhungana is full time faculty at the Kathmandu University School of Education, Nepal. She earned her Ph.D. studying teachers’ professional development. She co-authored many textbooks including Grade 9 and 10 English, published by Sano Thimi Bhaktapur. She published a couple of articles including journal articles. She has more than two decades of teaching experiences from kindergarten to university level with multiple leadership responsibilities.

Prof. Bal Chandra Luitel, Ph.D. serves as Dean at Kathmandu University School of Education. He has been working with several Nepali STEAM teachers and teacher educators to engage with a host of transformative research methods together with new analytics arising from dialectical, metaphorical, poetic, and narrative thinking and representation as a means for conceiving, expressing, and implementing visions of inclusive and life-affirming STEAM education in Nepal. Currently, he coordinates a transformative education project called Rupantaran that aims at engaging master’s and doctoral students to bring forth intimate narratives unfolded during the process of their immersion in a school transformation process of public schools in Nepal.

Erling Krogh, Ph.D., is a professor of the section for learning and teacher education at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. In Norway, he has coordinated national projects on cooperation between primary schools and farmers, using the farm as a learning arena, and on development of school gardens. Since 2011, together with Sigrid Gjøtterud and colleagues from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, he has focused on and published from participatory action research in Tanzania.

Niroj Dahal (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7646-1186) works as a lecturer at the Department of STEAM Education at Kathmandu University School of Education, Hattiban, Lalitpur, Nepal. His research interests include ICT in education, qualitative research, mathematics education, open, distance, & e-learning, STEAM education, research, and development, AI, and ICT & e-Research. Mr. Dahal has been teaching graduate and undergraduate students for over a decade. He has also been continuously taking part and presenting his research and practices in more than a dozen plus national and international conferences, workshops, and seminars. He has published articles, research notes, editorials, book reviews, and book chapters in various national and international journals and publication presses in the field of ICT, qualitative research, education in general and mathematics education, and STEAM education in particular. He may be contacted by e-mail at niroj@kusoed.edu.np.


We wish to acknowledge that the paper was prepared with the support from the NORHED Rupantaran Project entitled ‘Innovations in Teaching and Learning through Contextualized Approaches to Increase the Quality, Relevance, and Sustainability of Education in Nepal’ which has been jointly implemented in Nepal by Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu University (KU), and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU).

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