Students in villages perform poorly at school due to household chores
BAGLUNG, Dec 24: For seventh grader Govinda Chhetri, who studies at Chhisti Lower Seconday School in Baglung, there’s also looking after his domestic chores while going to school He who attends school during the day and collects fodder, milk the cattle and look after them in the morning and evening. Thus, he doesn’t have time to do his home assignments from school and often gets scolded by his teachers in school for not completing his homework.
“Everyday, I’ve to do these jobs, so I don’t have time for homework,” he says.
This is the story of most students from Chhetri’s school.
Pratibha Sharma also has to take care of her household chores like helping in the kitchen and collecting firewood and fodder. Sharma’s father works abroad, so her mother has to go for fieldwork, and hence, the responsibility of looking after her younger siblings and cooking meals at home come on her shoulders.
Similarly, because of having to compulsorily work at home, Medhavi Sharma also has to compromise on her education. “When father was home, we didn’t have to do much work but since he’s away, we have to help our mother,” says Sharma.
Students from economically poor family backgrounds, whose fathers are engaged in foreign employment, have to prioritize their household chores and responsibilities and this is hampering their education. Although they attend school, they don’t have time to do their homework or indulge in activities that provide entertainment for themselves. Even at a very young age, they are required to do physically challenging tasks such as carry load. During their school holidays, these children go to work in the fields to earn some money for their school tuition fees.
Another resident of Chhisti, Navaraj Pariyar, has even had to quit school because he couldn’t hand the dual responsibility of school work as well as household chores. He dropped out of school after failing in class because he had to divide his time between working during holidays and school-off hours. “Because of work and not being able to regularly attend school, I failed,” shares Pariyar. “Friends at school started teasing me and so I stopped going to school,” he adds.
Pariyar’s parents are troubled that their son had to drop out but Pariyar’s father shares that it’s an obligation as their financial conditions are not stable. “Whatever my wife and I earn isn’t enough to make ends meet. So we had to ask him to work,” he says.
The pressure of household chores is hindering the students from performing well at school. Children, tired from working all day, aren’t able to do their homework at night. A teacher at the Chhisti Lower Secondary School, Riddhi Poudel, opines that the parents of these children place more priority on housework that on education. “The children from rural areas are being deprived of their rights to education,” says Poudel.
Although, by the books of child rights, children are entitled to education as well as their development, protection, participation and entertainment, the rights of these children, in practice, are being abused.
Although most children are enrolled in school, most stay at home to babysit their younger siblings.
Sona Shripali, a student in Shanti Secondary School in Khunkani stays at home looking after her two years old brother even though she is enrolled in school. Sometimes, she takes her brother along with her to school. “If I go to school, I have to take my little brother along,” she says, adding, “when my brother gets hungry or starts crying, I leave the classroom and bring him home.”
The Gaja Youth Club in Baglung, however, shares that they are making efforts to ensure the rights of these children and raise awareness amongst the parents about the importance of the rights of their children.
The District Education Office in Baglung informs that because of responsibilities at home, children are being forced to repeat classes or drop out of school entirely. This has become a major problem with regards to rural children and their rights to education.
“The lack of an appropriate environment for study and engagement in school work at home has led to a 12% dropout rate,” says Navaraj Chapagain, Under Secretary at the District Education Office. “The main reason for the need for children to contribute to household chores is financial deprivation,” he adds.