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Rebuilding quake-hit schools expected to take 3-5 years



The red sticker pasted on the wall of a fragile school building after the Gorkha earthquake is still in place while 65 children aged three to 15 years attend classes inside. Shree Janata Primary School at Phoolbari, Kavre district is compelled to use earthquake-damaged classrooms even six months after the devastating April quake.

“The teachers decided to take classes inside the unsafe building after the temporary learning center collapsed during the first few days of the monsoon,” said headmaster Tulsa Ghimire.

Meanwhile, officials say that the government can reconstruct the schools only in three to five years. Little more than half the total amount required for the reconstruction of over 5,000 schools has been arranged, said Senior Divisional Engineer Jhapar Bishwokarma.

“The Department of Education (DoE) is initiating the work with only a little amount in hopes of getting more funds as the construction proceeds,” said Bishwokarma.

While the DoE estimates that Rs 38 billion will be required for school reconstructions and retro-maintenance in the 14 severely-hit districts alone, only Rs 21 billion has been lined up so far.

Among the donors, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided grants and JICA also made a pledge recently, according to Bishwokarma.

ADB issued Rs 8.65 billion in grants recently and JICA pledged 11.7 billion. Some 47 non-government organizations have shown interest in working closely with the DoE to build the schools and spend Rs 1.5 billion for the purpose, Bishwokarma told Republica.

In 44 quake-affected districts, around 6,000 schools, 15,000 classrooms, 1,809 toilets and 1,058 drinking water facilities have been damaged badly, according to data updated by the DoE. As many as 5,000 of the schools are situated in the 14 severely-hit districts.

Within the Valley, some 300 schools, both government and private, have been affected, with over 600 classrooms destroyed. Another 904 classrooms are at the risk of collapsing.

According to a government official, the design work is in the last phase and the division is preparing to call for bids for the construction of primary schools in some districts after the Tihar festival.

“We are working in full swing as the children face miserable conditions at the temporary learning centres,” claimed Bishwokarma.

At least Rs 20 million is required to build a standard primary school using the prescribed earthquake-resistant technology. The cost would be higher for secondary and higher secondary schools.

The reconstruction plan will cover only 14 districts and the other districts will get their new schools in different phases as per the School Sector Reform Program, officials said.

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About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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