KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Nearly two years have shot by since the devastating earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, but the government is yet to begin the reconstruction of 4,067 schools ravaged by the quake in 31 affected districts due to the lack of resources.
According to the Ministry of Education (MoE), a total of 7,923 schools were damaged in 31 districts in the devastating earthquake.
“We are yet to begin the reconstruction of 4,067 schools owing to the lack of various resources such as budget, skilled manpower, reconstruction materials, supervision and monitoring, and coordination among the stakeholders,” said Ima Narayan Shrestha, chief of the Project Implementation Unit at the MoE. “Only 1,049 schools have been constructed so far. The process has begun to reconstruct the remaining schools,” he added.
The Post-Disaster Recovery Framework prepared by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) estimates that Rs 180 billion will be required to rebuild the schools damaged by the earthquake. The government expects Rs 51 billion from different donors who have pledged Rs 22 billion so far, said the MoE officials.
However, the government has provided only Rs 10 billion, including Rs 4 billion this fiscal year, for the reconstruction of quake-damaged schools so far. “We have completed formulating the guidelines, building codes and designs of schools for the reconstruction,” said Shrestha.
According to Shrestha, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have pledged to construct 175 and 283 schools respectively in the 14 quake-hit districts. Similarly, China is constructing seven schools while India has assured to rebuild 70 schools in seven districts. “Many NGOs and 160 INGOs have expressed commitment to reconstruct 88 and 1,200 schools respectively. Out of them, INGOs are working on building 312 schools,” he said. “USAID will provide Rs 1 billion for school reconstruction.”
The ADB will work in eight districts: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga and Sindhuli. JICA, on the other hand, will focus on six districts: Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Lalitpur and Makwanpur.
Rajendra Pande, an official at the NRA, said that funds are not a problem. “Rs 36 billion is dumped in the NRA. We are soon going to set up an NRA fund of Rs 28 billion. India has recently signed a MoU to provide an assistance of US$ 250 million to Nepal,” he claimed.
The government earlier promised to complete the reconstruction of schools in three years and later extended the deadline to five years. But it is unlikely to complete the reconstruction of schools in the stipulated time.
“We will reconstruct all the schools sooner or later,” said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman for the MoE. “It may take six to seven years to complete the reconstruction of all the schools,” he added.