Sluggish rebuilding hits thousands of students

  • Govt yet to raise half the funds necessary to rebuild over 5,500 schools
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu
The CLPIU shows that Rs78.8b has been released for reconstruction, leaving a deficit of Rs88.2b in school construction

Apr 23, 2018-Three years after the devastating earthquake, the government has hardly completed reconstruction of one third school buildings while it is still struggling to generate half of the total required funds. This clearly hints that rebuilding works will not be over on time.

Some 33,000 classrooms at around 9,000 schools were destroyed in the 2015 Gorkha earthquake in 39 districts. Their reconstruction is going on in 32 districts where 7,923 schools were either destroyed or partially damaged.

A report of the Central Level Project Implementation Unit (Education) shows that 3,613 schools have been rebuilt while the government has generated resources for 2,047 more schools in two years of the reconstruction process.

This shows that the government is yet to ensure funding for 2,363 schools from the 32 highly affected districts in addition to 3,400 schools from other districts. The Post Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) prepared by the National Reconstruction Authority in May last year estimated that Rs180 billion would be required for the construction of quake-destroyed academic institutions and Rs167 billion for rebuilding schools and classrooms.

The CLPIU shows that Rs78.8 billion has either been spent or released for reconstruction, meaning that there is still a deficit of Rs88.2 billion in school construction. “Generating necessary funds is a huge challenge. This could push our deadline,” Im Narayan Shrestha, chief of the CLPIU, told journalists at an interaction organised by Education Journalists’ Network in the Capital on Sunday. He, however, said since some of the destroyed schools have already opted for merger, construction undertaken by the School Management Committee (SMG) is cheaper compared to the contractors’ cost.

About 75 percent of the schools are being constructed through the SMC’s. The PDRF had aimed to complete school reconstruction by May 2019. Officials said that the lack necessary funds and slow pace of reconstruction would make achievement of the target difficult.

“It will take at least one more year for [project] completion,” said Baikuntha Aryal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. More than one million children are studying in the schools affected by earthquakes.

The CLPIU report blames the reconstruction delays on bilateral or multi-lateral donor agencies. Among the 655 schools that Japanese International Cooperation Agency, USAID, Japanese Fund for Poverty Reduction, and Indian and Chinese governments pledged for rebuilding, only 17 have been constructed so far.

The progress of non-government agencies, however, is better. As many as 1,050 schools have been constructed while 126 are in the process of construction with support from 180 NGOs.

Published: 23-04-2018 06:54

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