One million school-going students–15 percent of the total students– have been directly affected by the April 25 earthquake. This has also threatened the achievement made over the past decades in increasing primary school enrollment in the country.
“The disaster has all of sudden shifted the government’s focus on the children’s access to education when we were moving toward improving quality,” said the DoE Director Khagendra Nepal.
In 2006, when the department began enrollment campaign for students, Nepal’s net enrollment rate was just 88 percent. It climbed up to 96.3 percent in the last academic session, which was hailed internationally. However, destruction of thousands of schools in the earthquake has threatened this achievement.
In 44 quake-affected districts, 5,429 schools, 14,752 classrooms, 1,809 toilets and 1,058 drinking water facilities have been damaged badly, shows the data updated by the Department of Education (DoE) till Sunday. The final statistics is yet to arrive and authorities expect the figures to go up.
UNICEF Representative in Nepal Tomoo Hozumi recently said in her statement that the disaster has threatened great strides made over the last 25 years in increasing primary school enrolment in Nepal.
“There is a desperate need to set up alternative learning spaces, assess and repair buildings, and mount a public awareness campaign encouraging families to send their children back to school and preschool,” says Hozumi.
Incentives to schools to resume classes
As the school authorities have no clue about where to resume classes after their buildings were badly damaged, the DoE has decided to provide them incentives to make temporary arrangements for tents, drinking water and education materials for students.
DoE Director Nepal told Republica that his office is providing Rs 75,000 to Rs 300,000 for temporary arrangements in damaged schools.
School running classes up to grade three would receive Rs 75,000, while those running classes up to grade five would receive Rs 125,000. Likewise, Rs 200,000 has been allocated for schools running classes up to grade 8 and Rs 250,000 for those running classes up to 10. A school running classes till grade 12 will receive Rs 300,000.
Students need time to come to terms with loss
They have seen their homes being destroyed and family members killed. The authorities need to wait for students to come to terms with the loss, says Educationist Bishnu Karki.
“The children can’t take full-fledged classes for at least a month. So they should be given at least a month,” said Karki.
Meanwhile in Gorkha, the epicenter of the devastating earthquake, the District Education Office is preparing to reopen schools from May 15, said Under Secretary Thakur Ram Tiwari. The Gorkha DEO estimates that around 80,000 students are affected by the quake in the district alone.
The office with the help of Nepal Army is setting up tents and clearing the debris of school buildings, said Tiwari.