CHITWAN, Nov 12: It is customary for a student passing a lower grade to advance to the upper grade. However, the story of two Chepang girls of Kaule and Korak VDCs is different as they had to enroll in the same grade even after passing their exams.
Namrata Chepang of Kaule passed the fifth grade recently had to take admission in the same grade in the same school. Similarly, Sumitra Maya Chepang stood third in the final examinations of her fifth grade but had to remain in her home as the school near her home does not run classes beyond fifth grade.
Sumitra, who hails originally from Surkhandi of Korak VDC situated in the hilly area of the district, has deformed, underdeveloped legs, and is unable to walk properly. She was forced to drop all her dreams of further studies after she passed the fifth grade from Nepal Rastriya Primary School near her home.
Having great interest in studies meant she never complained about having to limp for over half an hour to reach the nearby school. The disability could not deter her desire to acquire education. Sumitra stood first in her second and third grades and held third position in the fourth. She stood third again in her fifth grade examinations held last year.
Despite passing with flying colors, she has no reason to cheer as she cannot continue her studies. “In order to continue my studies I would have to reach the school in Thakaltar, crossing a river on the way. It is a two hours journey by foot even for normal people. It is virtually impossible for me to cover such a long distance with my challenged physical condition,” said Sumitra. Therefore, she had to stay back home after completing her primary level.
Like Sumitra, Namrata too faced a similar situation after passing her fifth grade. Namrata, who is from Kaule VDC-1, Jayathali, used to walk two hours to reach Nepal Rastriya Primary School.
She had to finish household chores before going to school. After she secured the highest grade in the school last year, she looked for another school to continue her study.
However, she ended up taking admission in the same school in the same grade as it was impossible for her to walk six hours to reach the nearest school that taught above fifth grade.
Nevertheless, the dream of the both girls for the higher study has been realized as they have started their study at 6th grade in Panchaknaya Higher Secondary School situated at Jayamangala of Ratnanagar Municipality-13. Along with theses two girls, 22 other Chepang children from the hill VDCs of the district have been studying at the school. Out of the 22 student, 13 of them are girls.
Kiran Sharma, a journalist and social activist in Chitawan, brought 22 Chepang children who were forced to quit schools due to various reasons and admitted them to Bindeshwari Primary School at Pithuwa. Sharma managed to find sponsors who were willing to pay for the education of the Chepang children. He, however, said that he has not been able to provide good food and better living spaces for the children in lack of sufficient funds.