KATHMANDU, NOV 20
Less than half the students reached their classes on school resumptions on Friday, the 98th day of the indefinite strike enforced by the Madhesi front in the eight districts of the central tarai.
According to Department of Education (DoE) Director Khagendra Nepal, around 90 percent of the schools were open and most of the teachers reached there to encourage all students to join school in the following days.
In Parsa district, which has remained a centre of protests in the last three months, only one third of the total student population turned up at schools, reports Republica district correspondent Ritesh Tripathi.
More than 150,000 students are enrolled at school to college level in this district alone. The school owners said they are planning to start extra classes and coaching sessions to cover the loss of 97 days from the academic calendar. Less than 30 percent of the course has been completed due to the forced closures, and the final exams and SLC board exams are scheduled from March.
Republica correspondent Mithilesh Yadav reports from Siraha district that guardians are fearful of violence being triggered anytime, as this will affect their children also.
“We are not convinced that it is safe for our children to go to and return from school at present,” said Sunita Yadav, mother of a school goer.
After Madhesi front cadres set fire to a truck loaded with essential medicines in Birgunj on Friday morning, fear of more violence and clashes between security personnel and protestors has gripped the locals of Siraha as well.
No to academy session collapse: Minister
While the decision of the Madhesi front to allow the operation of schools only till 11 a.m. has received mixed reactions in the tarai in view of the dipping mercury and the possibility of cold waves for several weeks in December and January, Minister for Education Giriraj Mani Pokhrel said that opening the schools is vital despite all the challenges.
Organizing an interaction program at Padma Kanya School in the capital on Friday, Minister Pokhrel said that the government cannot afford a collapse of the academic session, and resuming classes at odd hours had become unavoidable.
“With just four months at hand, students and teachers are under immense pressure to complete the course no matter how and start a new session in April,” said Pokhrel.
The ministry is organizing interaction programs among district education officers, teachers, guardians and all party mechanisms in the central tarai districts from Saturday onwards to create a favorable environment for conducting classes uninterrupted.