After mergers, Baglung school buildings fall into disrepairBuildings and other infrastructure of 15 community schools remain unused and face dereliction for a lack of initiatives to conserve them.
Fifteen schools in Baglung district have merged in the last four years under the government’s drive to merge community schools struggling to survive because of low numbers of students
Sharada Primary School in Narayansthan, Baglung Municipality-14, was merged with Ganesh Secondary School of the same ward by the then District Education Office. The seven-room school building has since then been left abandoned. The school was built with the financial support of the government and with labour contribution from the local people. The concerned authorities’ indecisiveness and failure to conserve the public building has garnered criticisms from the locals.
“The local people came together to help build this school. It’s sad to see it going to waste like this,” said Madhu Basnet, a resident of Baglung Municipality Ward No 14. “The locals’ contribution and the government’s investment in the construction of the building have gone down the drain.”
As many as eight buildings previously used as community schools are currently unused, according to Kushmaraj Upadhyay, chief at the Education Development and Coordination Unit.
According to the education regulations, community schools with less than 25 students were merged with other schools to have at least 45 students in the combined class.
Baglung Municipality scrapped six such schools in the last fiscal year alone.
Krishna Basic School and Saraswati Basic School in Baglung Ward No. 13 were merged into Tribhuvan Secondary School in the same ward. Shiva Basic School in Narayansthan has been merged with Janatadhan Secondary School. Some basic schools in Baglung Ward No. 6 and Baglung Ward No. 7 were also merged with other secondary schools.
However, the buildings and other infrastructure of all those merged schools are unused and on the verge of collapse for a lack of initiatives to conserve them.
“Those buildings have been left unoccupied to be operated as child development centres. The Child Development Management Committee along with the respective municipal offices should bear the responsibility of the buildings’ upkeep and management,” said Kusmaraj Upadhyay, chief at Education Development and Coordination Unit in Baglung.
According to the Education Regulation endorsed by the municipality, unused school buildings and their premises are said to be the properties of the respective ward offices. But none of the ward offices have paid attention to take ownership of those buildings.
Dandapani Sharma, the education officer of Baglung Municipality, said only a couple of buildings have been put to use as child development centres.
“The ward offices had taken the responsibility for the management of abandoned school buildings but they haven’t done anything so far,” Sharma said.
The other condition under which the school buildings were handed over to the ward offices was to bring the schools back into operation if the number of students wanting to attend the school increases, according to Sharma.
Upadhyay says the local units must step up to take responsibility for the unused school buildings since they are also responsible for teachers’ transfer and appointment and other education-related activities.
“For the time being, local units are more focused on managing vacant teachers’ posts in community schools,” said Upadhyay. “Conservation of the abandoned school buildings is also in the plan.”