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Learning Planet
Learning Planet

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About Us

At Learning Planet, we want all children to have the opportunities that we’ve had. We think everyone should have free access to interesting teachers, inspiring courses, and great learning spaces. We believe education is at the heart of all development – both personal and global.

We work with teachers, schools, communities and governments, to put access to good quality education and training at the top of the agenda. And we believe schools should be at the heart of their communities – as social, communication, learning and civic centres – for both children and adults . Together we can build more sustainable communities if we continue to foster and engage with our schools, colleges and workshops.

We like to work mostly in remote, isolated or disadvantaged places, either partly or entirely off-grid, because larger organisations either can’t or don’t want to. We try always to have a small footprint, everything we do is community led, and we don’t leave behind plaques or markers.

We do what we do because we love it. And we never stop learning from the amazing people and cultures we meet. Come and join us! It’s a big beautiful world out here :)

Our Team

Justin Wickham

Co-Founder & Executive Director

About Justin Wickham

A former BBC Television News & Current Affairs Producer, Justin spent 2 years teaching in South America and Africa before founding Outcast TV – a world away from life in Nepal. A chance visit to Dhawa, Nepal, re-ignited Justin’s desire to spend time off the beaten track and work in places where small things can make a big difference. Justin can get a Rhino into a canoe, has made films or run projects in many of the world’s most remote places and is generally fascinated with building things – spending 7 years building his house in South London, brick by brick. So we’ve put him to good use. When someone lets him, he’s planning trip around the North Pole.

Giri Raj Lamichhane

National Co-ordinator

About Giri Raj Lamichhane

Giri believes passionately in education and the need to improve facilities and training nationwide. A force to be reckoned with in Gorkha District, Giri became head master of Shree Prabhat Higher Secondary School, in Dhawa, in 1998 and immediately set about doubling it’s capacity. By employing the district’s first teacher from the Dalit “Untouchable” caste, Giri was able to overcome the caste stigma and induct nearly 100 more Dalit children. Giri’s prime focus is to provide economic and educational support to Dhawa’s large population – using Dhawa as a model for the regeneration of the whole district. Since the earthquake, with the scale of damage to Nepal’s education infrastructure, he has been instrumental in widening Learning Planet’s impact in the affected districts.

Susila Lamichhane

Regonal Director, Gorkha, Nepal.

About Susila Lamichhane

Susila believes all children should have access to free, high quality education, with a varied curriculum and approach that allows them to find what they’re good at. She also believes passionately in empowerment for rural women, starting Dhawa’s first Mother and Child Group – to assist the poorest women in her village create and grow small enterprises. Susila raised a large fund from weekly micro contributions from the villagers – teaching them how to manage and invest the proceeds. In 2012, she became chair of her new Micro Credit and Lending Co-operative which now has 700 all-female members from the surrounding villages. Susilla is also a mother of four, including 10 year old babu – darling of the village and unquestionably the village’s best dancer.

Michael St. Pierre

Engineering Projects Manager

About Michael St. Pierre

Michael trained in Germany as an engineer working mainly in the field of design and prototyping. In 27 years of work experience he has become a specialist in unusual and challenging, mixed discipline projects. He was project leader for the UK’s first approved, hybrid drive train, and later chief engineer for the worlds largest plastic object, cast out of resin, for Turner prize winning artist Rachel Whiteread: her famous Plinth in London’s iconic Trafalgar Square. Today his main work is focused on large-scale PV solar projects and other renewable technologies. He lives with his wife and two children in South London.

Conrad James

Design Lead

About Conrad James

Conrad studied architecture at Cambridge University and the Bartlett School of Architecture, and gained his experience in several prestigeous global practices, including Foster+Partners – in between backpacking around the world entering architecture competitions.
Now based in London, Conrad went on to study the architecture of “rapid change and scarce resources” at London Metropolitan University, and is excited at the opportunity of putting his interest in the architecture of developing countries into practice.
Conrad joined Learning Planet in 2011 designing Saraswati Primary and jointly designing Balimtar ECD school. In 2012 he further our partnership by bringing us his Tuk-Tuk school concept for urban street children.
He is married and has a little baby girl.

Nektarios Moraitis

Renewable Energy Lead

About Nektarios Moraitis

Nektarios joined forces with Learning Planet in September 2009. He was a member of the initial ENVIRON Foundation team, and came to Nepal on a three month placement with us to successfully complete all the technical parts of our Light4Life solar PV project in Dhawa. He now consults in his own time on all our renewable energy engineering projects, notably our new pico-hydro project. He is a graduate of Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology with a Masters in Sustainable Energy Engineering. He has travelled to more than 25 countries worldwide; Nepal is the place that made him see the world differently.

Hauke

Asia Co-ordinator

About Hauke

Currently completing his studies in Intercultural Relations in Germany, Hauke is a classic third culture kid, growing up in South Africa, Germany and the USA. After founding an internet radio station in Jerusalem, the mentoring project – Explore! Bremen, and organising multiple cultural events in his home town, Hauke met us while studying in India – and impressed us so much with his energy and ideas, we recruited him on the spot. When he’s not arranging logistics for one of our projects in Asia, you’ll probably find him meeting new people, writing poetry to untangle his mind, and attempting to live by his motto: “You have to risk it to get the biscuit!”

Alex McNeil

US Co-ordinator. Director, Imagine Labs.

About Alex McNeil

Alex joined the LP ranks as a volunteer at just 19, helping to raise some significant funds in the US for Balimtar Nursery school. Now, after spending several months working with us on the building, he’s taking a more permanant role in the organization. We’re delighted to welcome him to the Learning Planet team as our North American Funding Co-ordinator and the Director of Learning Planet’s fledgling Imagine Labs.
Alex loves to write short stories, and plays too much jazz and funk piano for his own good. He currently lives in the San Francisco bay area, in a home surrounded by trees and the ocean. He wants to join Justin at the North Pole in 2014. If his Mum lets him.

Basu Lamichhane

UK Co-ordinator

About Basu Lamichhane

Learning Planet’s UK representative Basu Lamichhane grew up in Balimtar, Dhawa and attended Shree Prabhat school as a small boy. Basu later studied at Khahare Dhading and at Amrit Science College (ASCOL) before migrating to England to train as a Registered Nurse at Thames Valley University in 2000. In 2004 Basu gained his BA Hons in Nursing Management and Leadership at Bukinghamshire New University – and he is now Deputy Manager at a large UK residential care home looking after more than 150 residents.
A tireless organiser and fund raiser, Basu’s background gives him a unique insight. He believes passionately that all children, no matter where they live, must have free access to education.

Neil Freebairn

Special Adviser

About Neil Freebairn

Neil is a developmental coach, business consultant, and writer. A long time university friend of Justin’s, he’s excited to now be involved with Learning Planet. Neil spent the first twenty years of his career as a business consultant to for-profit companies and not-for-profit organisations from Fortune 100 to lifestyle businesses, and as an inventor–entrepreneur of a blueprint for the future of telecommunications.

He plans to spend the next twenty years collaborating on the creation of a science-like methodology for human transformation. His academic background is philosophy and psychology (University of Oxford) and maths, statistics and computation (University of Bath, unfinished). He lives in North London with his partner, three children and a dog.

Paul Doran

Marketing Director

About Paul Doran

Paul helps companies, charities and businesses of all sizes communicate and tell their story better.

Based in London, he’s worked with Justin on different projects for over three years and has over 15 years marketing experience.

Paul is founder of the innovative PR and Marketing collective Switch Communications, and is our new non-executive Marketing Director at Learning Planet.

Paul has travelled extensively throughout Asia and can’t wait for his young family to grow up to experience the same. We’re over the moon to have him!

Dita Chapman

Co-Founder & Non Executive Director

About Dita Chapman

Dita came to Nepal to teach as an independent volunteer in September 2008. Astonished by the warmth of the people but saddened by the conditions of her remote school, she asked her partner Justin if he could help the community rebuild it. They enjoyed the project so much, they decided to found a new organisation, and Learning Planet was born. Dita has a Bsc in psychology and is a trained practitioner of Advanced Behavioural Analysis (ABA) for children with autism and severe learning difficulties. Originally from the Czech Republic, Dita spent 2 years in Sydney and 5 years studying in London before arriving in Nepal. In 2011 Dita was offered a unique opportunity to to work as an ABA consultant in Thailand. She lives in Bangkok, and sits on our board.