Parents worry about children’s studies

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Parents worry about children’s studies

May 23, 2015-Bishal Shrestha, 14, is an eighth grader at Adarsh Lower Secondary School in Kathmandu.

On April 25, Bishal was playing with his friends on the premises of the National Trading Limited in Teku. It was Saturday and schools were closed.

At around noon, a powerful earthquake struck the country, wreaking havoc in much of central Nepal including the Kathmandu Valley. Shock waves sent by the 7.9 magnitude temblor were felt as far as in Pakistan. In less than a minute, the earthquake caused widespread devastation. The country had witnessed the deadliest disaster till date.

At the National Trading Limited, a section of the compound wall crumbled, crushing Shrestha from his neck down. Both his legs sustained severe fractures and it would take at least a month for him to recover.

Bishal’s parents are happy to learn that their son is going to be fine. But they are worried about his education.

As the earthquake knocked down the building of Adarsh Lower Secondary School, Shrestha couple has no idea where their son would go to learn once he has recovered. They say that they cannot afford to send their son to a private school.

“It is so much frustrating to think about it,” said Bishal’s mother, Kamala.

Though the government has announced to set up temporary learning centres, Kamala is not convinced.

“Many schools that were destroyed during the insurgency are yet to be reconstructed. I doubt that the government can arrange alternative learning centres in a few weeks,” Kamala said.

Similar thought troubles hundreds of parents from low income family who have enrolled their children to public schools that were destroyed in the earthquake. Around 150 public schools like the one where Bishal was enrolled were destroyed in the earthquake and now their students have no place where they could learn to read and write.

The Department of Education has decided to provide money for the construction of up to three temporary learning centres for the schools that were damaged by the earthquake. Hardly six classes could be accommodated in three such temporary learning centres, which means that the schools that teach up to grade 10 could face difficulty conducting their classes.

Records at the Department of Education show that out of 2,500 schools inside the Valley, around 650 are public. Of the estimated 120,000 children who go to public schools, an estimated 80 percent come from the families with low income.

According to Hem Chandra Mahato, the headmaster of Durbar High School, out of around 300 students at the school, over 90 percent are the children of domestic helpers or daily wages workers.  “Some students themselves are domestic helpers. The destruction of public schools will definitely affect these children,” Mahato said.

Durbar High School, which is the country’s first modern school with a history of more than a century and a half, is among the worst quake-hit schools.

“The odds are stacked against us, but we are trying our best to keep the children at school,” Mahato said.

200 schools damaged in Ramechhap

RAMECHHAP: The April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks have destroyed 218 schools in Ramechhap district.

Khubiram Adhikari, district education officer, said since more than half of the school buildings in Ramechhap have been knocked down, they plan to resume the classes by setting up temporary classrooms.

The District Education Office plans to resume the schools from May 31.

Nir Bahadur Karki, headmaster of Gauri Shankar Higher Secondary School, said even those school buildings that are standing upright have been affected by the earthquake.

“All school buildings have developed cracks. Under such circumstance, we don’t know when or how to resume the classes,” Karki said.

The earthquake had destroyed the 11-room building of Gauri Shankar Higher Secondary School.

Bhagwan Karki, headmaster of Sharada Secondary School, said the part of the school building that had been spared in the April 25 earthquake crumbled in the May 12 aftershock, leaving them with nothing.

“All that we’ve got now are two tents. We don’t know how we are going to resume the classes,” he said.  

The District Disaster Management Committee has agreed to provide tarpaulin sheets and tents to those schools whose buildings were razed to the ground. But since almost all the schools in the district have claimed that their buildings are unsafe, they too are in need of tarpaulins and tents to build temporary classrooms.  

Chief District Officer Shambhu Prasad Marasini, who leads the committee, said they are not sure if they could provide tarpaulins and tents to every school in the district.

Gorkha schools start counselling classes

GORKHA: Schools in Gorkha, the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake, have started counselling classes and recreational activities such as music, dance and sports to help traumatised students minimise their fear.

A teacher at Shakti Higher Secondary School said students are benefiting from such classes and have learned that the quake is not a usual phenomenon. Likewise, Ramsharan Kattel, a teacher at Gandaki Higher Secondary School, said though very few students were present in school few days back, their number is increasing of late.

District Education Officer Hari Aryal said schools are creating child-friendly environment after teachers attended training on psycho-social counselling.

Almost all schools have been running classes in temporary shelters as the quake has destroyed around 3,000 classrooms in the district. Nepal Red Cross and the District Disaster Management Committee have provided tents to the schools.

The District Education Office has demanded that around 57,000 students in the district be provided with free lunch. “Students are going to school with empty stomach as even foodstuffs at their houses have been buried under the debris,” Aryal said. (PR)

Published: 24-05-2015 06:43

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