School enrollment for domestic help promises little
KATHMANDU, Sept 15: He used to think his son was smarter than his daughter and would make it big in life. However, of late, Krishna Lamichhane from Nuwakot district is just as disheartened about the son.
The reason -- his 13-year-old daughter was sacked a year ago from her job as a domestic help for a business family in the capital and his son also is likely to get the sack now.
“I cannot afford their schooling. I had thought that my boy would stick it out somehow until he passed the SLC at least. But it seems his fate will be no better than mine,” says the father. “They have been a little offended due to his activities. However, I still like to hope they will continue to hire him here and he can continue his studies,” he added.
On the other hand, as a domestic help the 11-year-old´s life is far from easy. Rahul has to get up at 5.30 a.m. and roll up his sleeves for all the household chores for a middle class family in Tinthana, Kathmandu. As the boy is a bit mischievous he comes in for enough verbal rebuke, apart from threats not to keep him any more. And his performance at school is equally poor.
Stories like Rahul´s are rather common at his school -- Mangal Madhyamik Vidhyalaya at Naya Naikap, Kathamndu. According to lower secondary level teacher Sulochana Gautam, above 60 percent of students at the school are domestic helps and their tough daily routine hampers their studies. Even though these children have foregone their childhood for the sake of education or better opportunities later in life, they seem least likely to reap those fruits.
“The children of well off families hardly come to government schools. Our students are basically domestic help who have to put up with a tough daily routine apart from a lack of any guidance at home,” Gautam said.
According to her, these children are sent to school only because the families that employ them agree to do so as part of a deal with their parents. “But baring a few cases, the children are given such a heavy load of chores that they have little zeal left for study in school.”
The experience of Yubaraj Neupanne, principal of Vaishavdevi Secondary School in Kirtipur, is no different. He reports that his students are from extremely poor families, with a majority of them working as domestic help. “Now a days even a vegetable vendor sends his children to private school. Our students are exclusively from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. Majority of the children here are domestic help, so it is understandable why they are poor at studies,” he said.
Janapath Secondary School at Kalanki, Janaprabhat Secondary at Kalimati and Padmodaya Higher Secondary School on Exhibition Road also told Republica that the future of students who double as domestic help is not bright even though they are enrolled in school because they are sent to school just for the sake of it.
“People are generally ruthless towards others´ children. While children need maximum care, love and a suitable environment for good academic performance and wholesome development, very few families care to provide any of this to their domestic help,” commented Ranga Prasad Luintel, principal at Vaishnavi Secondary School, also at Naya Naikap.
While there is no exact data available on how many children are working in the capital as domestic help, government schools here admit that they would be on the verge of closure had it not been for such students. “And they are comparatively poorer in studies due to the tough conditions they face,” Luintel said.