earthquake effect

Lack of classrooms affecting children’s education

March 22, 2017 08:04 AM Narahari Sapkota

Students of various grades taught under the same tattered tarpaulin

GORKHA, March 22: Rajani Miya, a primary level student was reading Nepali lesson loudly when another student, Binaya Baniya, started reading a story from his English textbook equally loudly. They would pause in the middle and look at each other and carry on. Other students were busy doing their class work in the same classroom. This classroom scenario was from the Nimel Primary School in Saurapani, during an afternoon last week. 

“All students from grade one to five study in the same classroom together. We don’t have any other tents also to teach them separately,” said Ram Chandra Shrestha, a teacher at the school. 

This school, which runs classes from nursery to fifth grade, has a total of 30 students. Though the number total students isn’t much, teaching them in the same classroom is hampering their education, Shrestha said. “We need to teach different subjects using different educational materials for different levels. But in lack of separate tents, it has not been possible here,” he added. 

Lower grades have fewer subjects and higher classes have more subjects. However, due to the lack of space, students of all grades are being taught almost equal time and same subjects, teachers said. “Basically it affects fourth and fifth graders. Despite all our efforts we are not able to teach them all the subjects they are supposed to study,” Shrestha lamented. 

The school building was destroyed by earthquakes in April, 2015. For several months, the school, just like other schools in earthquake-affected districts, could not open. When students and teachers were finally ready to resume classes, they did not have infrastructure to conduct academic activities. “Even though some students and teachers were willing to resume academic activities, it was difficult to do so as we had lost all the assets along with the school building during the quake,” said Shrestha. 

When the government announced support packages for schools, school management teams were hopeful of better days ahead. However, those promises remain unfulfilled for our school, Shrestha said.

“It’s been nearly two years since earthquakes destroyed the school building. But you can see for yourself, we have been forced to teach students of all grades in a single classroom,” said Shrestha, adding that the situation is actually very common in schools in other pars of the district as well. 

Sharing their woes further, he informed to Republica that school does not open on a rainy, very hot or a cold days. “Rain, storm, hailstone, heat, everything disturbs our academic activities as we do not have proper shelter.” The school has a few benches under the tent that is covered with a blue half tattered tarpaulin. “No one will say that this is a claas if they don’t see the uniform-clad students,” he said.

Himalaya Secondary School in the same VDC has 637 students. But it also conducts classes in tents. Though construction of some classrooms is underway, presently the school administration has been struggling to conduct academic activities in tents.

“We have been struggling to conduct academic activities since the school buildings were destroyed by earthquakes. We don’t know when construction of the classrooms will complete and put an end to our woes,” Ramesh Koirala, principal of the school, said.  

There are several practical problems when schools lack infrastructures. It demoralizes not only students but also teachers. This has affected academics of senior students more than the lower grades, said Koirala. Students of this school are additionally disturbed by sound pollution and dust that comes from the vehicles plying on the nearby highway. 

District Education Officer Dipendra Subedi hoped that most of schools will be able to conduct academic activities normally while informing that construction of buildings is underway in 150 schools across the district. 

“It’s been around two years since the disaster devastated most of our schools. We have been coordinating with donor agencies and many have shown further interest to invest for constructing our schools’ buildings,” Subedi said. 

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