CHITWAN, April 16: Nine-year-old Suresh Chepa dropped out of school after class two. He is interested rather in grazing cattle. Moreover, that is what his parents want of him.
"Grazing cattle is far more enjoyable than attending school," Suresh grins. "We have a dozen cattle and I can go for swimming while I take them out to graze," he adds.
Chepa is certainly not alone in the list of such early dropouts.
Ramita Lama also hasn´t gone to school after passing grade 1 last year. The 12-year-old, however, hardly has any regrets. Instead, she is excited that her parents are looking for a suitable groom for her! "They say the school is too far and that it time for me to get married. So there is no point in going to school," she said.
Yet another girl, Asmita Chepa, a 6th grader at Korak Thakaltar School at Thakaltar, is also preparing for her wedding. "It is now time for me to drop out of school as I will be tying knot soon," she said.
The lack of awareness regarding the importance of education among the children as well as their parents is quite apparent in this region.
There are altogether 37 schools under Kaule, Siddhi and Shaktikhor resource centers. According to Aryal, though school dresses, books and scholarships are provided to the kids on a regular basis it has had no effect. The scholarship amount provided to the students is actually used by their elders for buying liquors and new clothes for themselves.
According to resource chief at Shaktikhor, Bomprasad Aryal, the long queue of school dropouts is due to the acute lack of awareness. "Neither the children nor the parents understand the value of education. While children take studies as a burden, the parents do not mind misusing the scholarship amount," he said.
Aryal said that the parents believe just educating children is not enough and stop sending their kids to school after a year or two.