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Category Archives: Education in Disaster

Children Greet School Resumption with Smile



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Attendance was encouraging on the first day children returned to school Sunday, 37 days after the devastating earthquake rocked Nepal.

The month-plus unscheduled holidays have come to an end. But the tremors have not. Amid aftershocks striking every single day, children in most Valley schools not only managed to bring smiles back to their faces, but also boosted the confidence of their teachers about continuing with the classes.

Arman Khan at the centre

Arman at the center

Five-year-old Arman Khan had gotten admission to nursery class at Durbar High School in the first week of Baisakh, when the new academic session started. But his first day of classes took place only on Sunday. No one asked him to read or write anything. All he had to do was sing and dance along with other children.

At this oldest school of the country, the children paid no attention to the collapsed infrastructure and instead enjoyed the cultural program at the Temporary Learning Centre set up by the school.

Rojina Lama, 13, and her 11-year-old brother Kumar were witness to many old structures collapsing in Thimi on April 25. And their home in Dhading district is now only a memory. But all that was not enough to keep the siblings away from their Adarsha Secondary School at Sanothimi, Bhaktapur.

“We are happy to come to school and hope to resume our studies soon,” they said while walking in the streets of Thimi.

School teacher Roshani Shrestha at VS Niketan Montessor shared that those who came in the morning crying also seem to have forgotten everything and were playing happily.

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For eight-year-old Younish Shrestha, it was a little different. The paper-made ‘smiling’ hairband did not match his expression. About the reason for his sadness, he said, “I enjoyed the holidays and wished they could be extended for more days still.” Roshani explained Younish’s attitude in terms of general child psychology and the tendency to keep avoiding school when there has been a long gap.

Sixth grader Rahul Yadav of SOS School, Sanothimi says he found the earthquake-related information at schools quiet boring.

“We have been facing earthquakes every day and watching the awareness messages on TV and the internet and it was boring to see the same things repeated at school,” he said. Rahul’s mother Bina nodded and suggested that the schools impart quake-related education in a more interesting way.

Less than half of students attend at most Valley schools

Students perform yoga at Nobel Academy

Students perform yoga at Nobel Academy

Around 70 students made it to Durbar High School where the enrollment was around 225 during the last session. Out of 1,000 students, hardly 350 reached Nobel Academy at New Baneshwor.

Nobel Principal Rishikesh Wagle said most of the students who have gone to the districts with their families are yet to return.

“It is mainly children who have gone to their homes outside the Valley who are yet to return,” said Wagle.

At VS Niketan Montessor at Tinkune, 87 out of the 200 toddlers managed to come, whereas 250 out of 500 students at Suryodaya School attended.

PABSON, an umbrella organization of private and boarding schools, said that around 40 percent of students came to school. But the numbers are expected to increase gradually as the guardians see more and more children doing so, said PABSON Chairperson Lachhya Bahadur KC

PABSON has estimated that around 15 percent of the children might not return to the Valley following the quake. KC said this was no bother for private schools, which would soon begin classes in full form as per the interest shown by students.

“The senior class students have shown interest in returning to full-form classes,” said KC. If the aftershocks become milder, schools would resume formal classes for grades 9 and 10, he mentioned.

The Department of Education (DoE)said that most of the schools managed to gather students in their makeshift classrooms for amusement and extracurricular activities, as earlier planned, to help them overcome the post-quake trauma.

“We have received good vibes from the badly-devastated districts and this has encouraged the government to gear up for full fledged classes soon,” said DoE Director Khagendra Nepal.

Stressed guardians wait outside for children

Though some schools such as St. Xavier’s at Jawalakhel restricted media from the school premises, guardians were allowed to accompany their children to the classrooms.

Some of the schools engaged the guardians also in their activities, and in most schools the guardians waited outside for more than two hours until the school wrapped up for the day.

At the premises of Suryodaya School at Dillibazar and at Maitidevi-based Universal Academy, which was damaged by the quake, the guardians could manage a smile on seeing their children singing and dancing.

Engineer Shambhulal Kayastha took his eight-grader granddaughter Bhumika to Nobel Academy from Koteshor. This was the third time Kayastha has been to the school within a week.

“The green sticker at the building did not reassure me untill I examined the infrastructure myself,” 60-year-old Kayastha told Republica while waiting for Bhumika at the school premises.

Nobel carried out yoga, meditation and cultural programs alternatively, dividing the students into different groups. Guardians witnessed similar activities from a distance at VS Niketan as well.

Like many, Sunita Maharjan said that fear of strong tremors during school hours prevented her feet from leaving the school area.

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Govt to introduce quake-education in school curriculum



Pic taken at Durbar High School that collapsed on 7.8 Magnitude earthquake of April 25

Pic taken at Durbar High School that collapsed due to 7.8 Magnitude earthquake of April 25

The devastating earthquake of April 25 measuring magnitude 7.8 has become an eye opener for the government, finally leading it to include earthquake-related education in the school curriculum.

The academic curriculum for school going children had so far failed to educate students about Nepal’s high vulnerability to earthquake and other natural disasters.

“The reaction of children and adults during the earthquake shows a serious drawback in school education and an urgency to introduce earthquake-related education in the school curriculum,” said Assistant Spokesperson for the Ministry of Education (MoE) Saraswati Pokhrel. 

The ministry will soon start work on reviewing the curriculum after the quake stabilizes, said Pokhrel speaking at a program on Tuesday.

While the government is set to reopen schools on June 1, the schools must be well prepared to deal with the situation if there is another strong aftershock, said Chairperson of Guardian Association Suprabhat Bhandari.

“The situation has changed here overnight and we can’t wait for the government to include disaster education in the school curriculum,” said Bhandari adding that the awareness should begin from day one of the school.

He further urged the government authorities to explore reliable measures to save children from the earthquake arguing that I/NGO’s training to the students proved worthless to students who died in the quake.

Probably the only thing children were trained to do as preparedness for earthquake was to lay down with the knees folded and protect head with the both hands. Sadly, that was the same posture in which the bodies of minors were recovered from the debris.

The immediate preparedness for the children includes their psychoanalysis and an effort to take them out of the mental trauma. The District Education Offices (DEO) are making arrangements to send children to the Temporary Learning Centre (TLC) to get normalized.

The government report points out that around 300 Valley-based schools, both government and private, have been affected by the quake, with over 600 classrooms destroyed. As many as 904 classrooms are still intact but are at the risk of collapsing.

Lalitpur DEO Shiva Sapkota said 30 out of 190 TLC were set up till Tuesday. “We are positive about the June 1 deadline to reopen schools,” he claimed.

In Kathmandu, 231 TLC are required. A total of 260 schools have been marked red whereas 484 have been marked green here till now. The inspection of the technical team is still on in Valley schools.

Minister criticized for failed leadership

Teachers have criticized Minister for Education Chitra Lekha Yadav for not leading the education sector in the time of disaster. They have said that while she should have been active in leading the education sector in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake, she is on a week-long foreign trip.

“The political leadership has played no role in normalizing the situation in the aftermath of the quake, while teachers are doing their bit from the day of the earthquake,” said Ramesh Rupakheti, a member of All Nepal Teachers’ Organization (ANTO), the umbrella organization of teachers.

Teachers have contributed Rs600 million to the Prime Minister Relief Fund. They donated their five days’ salary to the PM relief fund. Similarly, ANTO has mobilized its team in all the 14 severely affected districts to provide counseling to teachers and prepare them to get back to work.

Published on May 26 in Republica Daily

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Schools lack open space to setup makeshift classroom



Hundreds of schools in Kathmandu Valley are either littered with debris of damaged infrastructure or on the verge of collapse, posing risk to human movement around the school premises. This has created a challenge for the school authorities to din open space to erect tents or setup cottages for running classes from Friday as per the government plan.

With just five days remaining to reopen the schools more than a dozen government schools of Bhaktapur have no idea where to erect tents, said Ramakanta Sharma, Bhatapur District Education Officer. The private schools here face the same predicament.

In Kathmandu, Durbar High School is struggling to create space for more than 200 students. The authorities cleared the rubble from the premises on Sunday but the government’s technical team is yet to ascertain whether or not classes could be conducted at the open space within the school premises, the headmaster of the country’s oldest school Hemchandra Mahato told Republica.

“As the team of engineers is yet to inspect our premises, we are likely to miss the government given deadline for resuming the classes,” said Mahato.

Reports point out that around 300 valley-based schools, both government and private, have been affected by the quake, with 625 classrooms completely destroyed. As many as 904 classrooms still stand but are at the risk of giving way anytime. Likewise, 503 classrooms have suffered minor damages.

In Kathmandu alone, 64 community schools turned into rubble in the devastating quake of April 25. As many as 151 have been marked red to signify that they can’t be used, whereas 100 schools have been marked safe, according to Kathmandu DEO Dinesh Shrestha.

The technical team is yet to produce the final data on the safety of 1,000 private schools in Kathmandu, said Shrestha. However, out of those inspected, over 165 private schools have been marked red, requiring them to be razed to the ground.


The valley-based districts education offices are planning to use school buildings to run classes in shifts as the temporary means. Kathmandu DEO Shrestha said that the schools marked safe by the technical team would be used to run classes in shifts.

Published on 25 May 2015 in Republica Daily


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Achievement in school enrollment under threat


Ramesh Khatiwada/Republica Ten-year-old Ankit Thami at his quake-damaged classroom of Gurjepa Lower Secondary School at Lapilang of Dolakha, Sunday. As the school is badly damaged by the earthquake, Thami and his friends come to the school just to play in the grounds. Officials said 105 schools in Dolakha have been destroyed.

Ramesh Khatiwada/Republica Ten-year-old Ankit Thami at his quake-damaged classroom of Gurjepa Lower Secondary School at Lapilang of Dolakha, Sunday. As the school is badly damaged by the earthquake, Thami and his friends come to the school just to play in the grounds. Officials said 105 schools in Dolakha have been destroyed.

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.