Prabhat Kiran school in Gorkha fails to get donors for reconstructionThe school gained popularity after Prince Harry helped in its reconstruction in 2016.
Prabhat Kiran Secondary School in Lapu of Darche Rural Municipality was among several schools destroyed by the 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks.
The following year, the school gained much attention as it was visited by Prince Harry and Team Rubicon volunteers. They had arrived in March 2016 to help in the reconstruction of the school.
Prince Harry had donated labour in the school’s reconstruction and stayed in the village for almost a week.
It’s been six years since the visit but the reconstruction work still remains incomplete.
While other schools destroyed by the earthquake in the rural municipality now operate out of well-facilitated buildings, Prabhat Kiran Secondary School still does not have enough classrooms to accommodate its 171 students.
Reconstruction of other schools–Kalaratri Secondary School in Lapu, Ganga Jamuna Basic School in Bhirkuna, Gorakhnath Primary School in Khanigaun, Shanti Primary School in Poudu and Himal Secondary School–in the rural municipality has already been completed.
With a high profile individual associated with the reconstruction project, the locals had hoped for positive developments in the school’s physical and educational infrastructure. But so many years have passed with no results and the villagers have now given up all hopes of the school ever seeing completion, says Jit Bahadur Gurung, the school headmaster.
“We thought the rebuilding of the school would be a success, especially after the involvement of Team Rubicon and Prince Harry, but now their association is proving costly for us,” said Gurung. “We reached out to several donor agencies for financial or labour help to rebuild the school, but since the project was associated with Prince Harry, none of the donors is willing to assist thinking it’s already taken care of.”
According to Gurung, Team Rubicon had spent Rs 40.3 million on the school reconstruction project.
The locals also reached out to the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Indian Embassy in Nepal for assistance but none of them agreed to help.
“The school has a photo of Prince Harry on its wall in his honour. The locals have even named a hill after him. Other aid agencies don’t see the point in helping out a school that has already chosen its patron saint,” said Gurung.
Team Rubicon built three blocks with 12 rooms each as part of the reconstruction project over a period of two months. However, the rooms are rarely used since it’s too cold to stay indoors in the winters and too hot in the summers, says Gurung.
“The rooms are built of semi-permanent materials and are not earthquake resistant. The rooms get uncomfortably hot during the summer season and too cold during winters,” said Gurung. “We have built two five-room truss structures with the help of the District Project Implementation Unit (Education) to accommodate all students. The structures are not sturdy but we have to make do.”
Last Sunday, the teachers had to arrange a classroom set up out in the open to run classes since the truss structures are under repair.
“We need at least 17 rooms to accommodate all the students,” said Gurung.
The five-kilowatt capacity solar system installed at the school during Team Rubicon’s stint broke down three years ago. The locals tried to contact the team through the Ex-British Gurkhas Association but they could not get in touch with either Prince Harry or Team Rubicon.
“We didn’t know how to fix the solar panel. We tried to contact the team that had installed the panel but to no avail,” said Saroj Gurung, a local man whose son attends Prabhat Kiran Secondary School. “Prince Harry had said he would keep an eye on the progress of the school but that didn’t happen. We appreciate what he did here but now we need help and there is no way we can contact him.”
Engineer Nirmal Bogati of the Education Development and Coordination Unit said that the proposal for the construction of three community schools, including Prabhat Kiran, has not been approved by the Asian Development Bank.
“Prabhat Kiran school was initially built by Prince Harry’s team. Later, we added two truss structures through the District Project Implementation Unit (Education). The National Reconstruction Authority sent a proposal to ADB for the construction of a concrete building for Prabhat Kiran but the proposal got rejected,” said Bogati.
“Around 90 percent of schools destroyed by the earthquake in the district have been reconstructed. A total of 490 schools were damaged,” said Nirmal Bogati, engineer of the Education Development and Coordination Unit. “We have put Prabhat Kiran Secondary School on the priority list but we are awaiting a decision from the concerned authorities.”