KATHMANDU, May 4: The Election Commission (EC) has asked the Ministry of Education (MoE) to close the educational institutions for seven days -- from May 8 to 14 -- for facilitating the first phase of the local elections.
“We have received a letter from the EC requesting closure of educational institutions for a week for the local elections,” said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman at the MoE. “The EC has also asked for repairs of the compound walls of the schools and arrangement of necessary facilities in the schools where polling stations have been fixed,” he added.
However, the ministry has yet to decide whether to close all the educational institutions or only those where polling stations have been fixed. “We will come up with a decision by tomorrow (Thursday),” said Lamsal.
“The elections should be held even by using school buildings. But the teaching and learning should be conducted for 220 days in a year. It must be maintained at any cost even by cutting down on other holidays,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, former president of the Guardians' Association Nepal.
“It would be better to close schools for only four days,” said Bhandari. “It will go against the rules and we will strongly protest if the children are used in the polls,” he added.
Most of the polling stations are located at educational institutions including schools or colleges across the country. The first phase of local polls are being held on May 14 at 6,642 polling centers in 283 local units including four metropolitan cities, 1 sub-metropolitan city, 92 municipalities and 186 rural municipalities in three provinces-3, 4 and 6 in 34 districts of the country.