Zeke O’Connor School (ZOC School) was built in 2011 by the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation Canada with the help of the Rotary Club of West Calgary. It is located in the tiny village of Phaplu in the Himalayan region of northeast Nepal. Currently, it is the only STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) centered school in area of Solukhumbu Nepal. ZOC School has approximately 30 students per grade from 8-12th grade. Zeke O’Connor was close friends with Sir Edmund Hillary for many years. They worked side by side to build schools, roads, hospitals, and to “help the Sherpa help themselves.” Sir Ed built the first hospital in Phaplu and an airport. Zeke founded the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation and the foundation carries on Sir Ed’s legacy.
ZOC School is a tuition free school. It receives no funding from the government of Nepal. From its inception it was designed to serve the poorest of the poor in the Solukhumbu (Everest) region of Nepal. The children who attend are the offspring of the laborers including the Sherpa porters who carry the very heavy loads of travelers and climbers. Many students have parents who value education deeply but who themselves may be illiterate. These families are tremendously devoted to having their children receive the opportunities a quality education can provide. They make great sacrifices to have their children go to our school.
Currently all families pay for books, uniforms, and teacher supplementary stipends during 10th grade exam time. The parents want to make this gesture to show that they are partners in their child’s educational journey.
ZOC School is dedicated to the education of girls. Parents traditionally promoted their sons to go to school and daughters to stay home and do the chores. Young girls in rural areas of Nepal are particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking. Education and literacy are the pathway of a better future and prevention of human trafficking. When you educate a girl, you educate a family. ZOC School maintains a student population that is almost 50% girls. This is remarkably high, particularly for such a remote area.
As you can imagine, tourism is a fundamental source of income in the Everest region. COVID19 has brought tourism to a halt. The economic impact has been devastating to Nepal.
It costs approximately $1000 per student per year to operate our school. Expenses include salaries for staff and teachers (including specialized math and science teachers), management and upkeep of the buildings and grounds, personal hygiene, laboratory equipment, library and reference books, school excursions, and sports and recreation activities.
One Student One Family Program (or the “ONE” program) was developed as a partnership between The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation and the Zeke O’Connor School in Nepal. Together we match students with donors, create school newsletters and program communications, and work to grow the program so ultimately it will be the primary source of funding the school’s operating expenses.
ONE Program full sponsorship is $1000 per year. This sponsorship covers the entire annual expenses for one student. A half sponsorship is $500 per year. This sponsorship covers half the annual expenses for one student.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for New Sponsors
WHY IS THIS PROGRAM CALLED ONE STUDENT ONE FAMILY?
We believe that all people are interconnected, so while the Sherpa people of Nepal may be halfway around the world to most of us, they are part of our universal family. Each student is important and worthy, and the One Student-One Family program helps create bonds that span the globe and gives students who are eager to learn an opportunity to thrive. Together we are “ONE.”
In Nepal, quality education at the high school level is costly and students from the poorest backgrounds often they cannot afford to go to school. Government run community schools (particularly in the rural areas) often see students leave before the 10th grade which is the critical year for completion to ensure the chance to secure meaningful work. Previously, if a student does not pass the 10th grade exam need to wait a full year to take the test again. The pass rate at the ZOC School is 100%. Now there is more emphasis on the 12th grade exam. It is very difficult to keep students in school beyond 10th grade, but ZOC has been more and more successful at retaining its students.
WHAT COMMITMENT DO SPONSORS USUALLY MAKE?
Generally, our sponsors commit to supporting their students from 8th grade until graduation from ZOC School (five years).
WHAT IS “HALF SPONSORSHIP”?
Half sponsors contribute $500 per year and are paired with other half sponsors so that together they are fully supporting one student.
WHAT IS A FULL SPONSORSHIP?
Full Sponsors contribute $1000 per year. This amount allows the funding of all the costs listed below.
WHAT DOES SPONSORSHIP PAY FOR?
By sponsoring a high school student, you enable us to fund operational costs including teacher and staff salaries, building maintenance and repairs, ground maintenance, school supplies including laboratory supplies and computer access, sports and recreational activities, and all the other essentials that our students need in order to succeed in high school.
WILL I GET TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE STUDENT I SUPPORT?
Of course! Sponsors who commit to supporting a student through high school will receive updates, photos, and letters from their student and general updates from ZOC School. The relationship is two-way, and we ask that sponsors write letters of encouragement to the students they support.
CAN I MEET MY STUDENT OR VISIT THE SCHOOL?
We are hoping to plan a trip for sponsors to visit the Zeke O’Connor School in Phaplu in 2022 pending COVID restrictions. Please stand by for exciting details of this life changing trip!
WHAT FEES DOES SIR EDMUND HILLARY FOUNDATION PAY FOR ONLINE DONATIONS? SHOULD I JUST MAIL A CHECK INSTEAD?
We are developing a special DONATE NOW button on our website that is specifically for the ONE Program. For now, you can make your donation by clicking the DONATE button on our website and then in the section that says “MESSAGE FOR THE SIR EDMUND HILLARY FOUNDATION (OPTIONAL)” please write “One Student One Family Program”
IS MY SPONSORSHIP TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
Yes, your donation is 100% tax deductible both in Canada and the U.S. You will receive a tax receipt according to the country in which your donation was made. Thank you!