BHIMTAR (SINDHUPALCHOWK), Sept 5: Although he was enrolled in grade two of Bhimeshwori Higher Secondary School in Bhimtar VDC of Sindhupalchok district early this year, Abhishesh Danuwar used to spend much of his day time fishing in the Indrawati River.
"I would always get hungry in the afternoon," he says. "Unable to overcome hunger pangs, I would often bunk classes and rush home. However, I never returned to school after eating something. Instead, I went fishing."
Ahbishesh now has made a resolve to never skip the classes. "Now, I have got a tiffin box. I can take food to the school in my tiffin box." After receiving a tiffin box from an NGO, Abhishesh appeared jubilant. He gently caressed the tiffin box for a while and said, "I will study hard from now on."
At a function organized on Monday, District Education Officer of Sindhupalchowk Geha Nath Gautam distributed Tiffin boxes to around 1,300 from the highly marginalized Danuwar and Majhi communities. The Civil Leadership School and the Helambu Education Leadership Program had provided tiffin boxes to Danuwar and Majhi students of eight government schools to curb high dropout rates.
Like Abhishesh, all students who got tiffin boxes were excited. "This little box matters a lot to me," said Thuli Kanchhi Danuwar, one of the parents attending the function at Bhimeshwori Higher Secondary School. "From now onward, my children will not have to skip classes just because they feel hungry. I will put whatever is cooked at home in the box for my children."
According to Gautam, the tiffin boxes are expected to help retain Danuwar and Majhi students who may otherwise drop out of schools any time in future. "Most of the students enrolled early this year do not attend classes regularly," he said. "The tiffin boxes will encourage them to attend classes every day.”
According to Sindhupalchowk DEO, only 50 out of the total 300 students enrolled in grade one manage to reach grade two every year in Bhimtar. In the last academic year alone, 269 students dropped out of the school before graduating to grade two.
At the beginning of the current academic session, students who had dropped out last year were welcomed back to the schools.