School programme helps students carry out income-generating activitiesUnder the studying-earning programme launched by Janajyoti Secondary School, students can take interest-free loans to start farming projects.
Seventeen-year-old Rita Aale is taking a Veterinary Junior Technical Assistance course at Janajyoti Secondary School in Surkhet. Along with the 18-month technical course, the teenager from Raniban in Barahatal Rural Municipality-5 also has her hands full with mushroom farming and poultry farming.
Aale started mushroom farming three months ago by taking a loan of Rs 5,000 from the school. According to her, she has sold 35 kgs of mushrooms so far.
“I am planning to pay back the loan next week. Besides that, I have earned an additional Rs 5,000. I will spend some of the earnings on my studies and give the remaining amount to my family,” Aale said.
Encouraged by the success of mushroom farming, Aale and four other friends have also started poultry farming. The group has taken a loan of Rs 60,000 and set up a poultry farm in a structure provided by the school. They have 100 chicks in their farm at present.
Many students have been encouraged to start their own businesses as a part of Janajyoti Secondary School’s ‘studying-earning programme’ in the past two years. Under the programme, any student enrolled in the school can take interest-free loan and initiate his/her own income-generating activities. The school management also provides the necessary infrastructure if the students want to set up agriculture farms.
“We have been providing a small amount of loan to the students if they want to initiate any income-generating agricultural activities,” said Tilak Marsangi, the chairman of the school management committee.
Janajyoti Secondary School has been conducting technical education classes for the past two years. It currently runs an 18-month and a three-year-long courses on veterinary and agriculture farming.
Sher Bahadur Paudel, a fifth grader at the school, says he has been rearing goats and chicken on the land provided by the school. The 12-year-old boy from Barahatal-5 comes from an impoverished family and says he is grateful for the income-generating opportunity that the school is providing them with.
“I bought a goat by taking a loan of Rs 7,000 from the school. The goat is easily sold at Rs 10,000 now. I have also started keeping 34 local chickens,” said Paudel. The school has provided him with a loan of Rs 22,500 so far.
Students aspiring for commercial farming have to form a group first and choose any field and submit a proposal to their class teacher. The school administration provides loans as per the recommendation of the class teacher.
“The school gives out loans after making sure that the students are able to carry out their projects. We also provide loans through the bank if the students need hefty investment,” said Narayan Sigdel, the school principal.
According to Sigdel, a student enrolled in technical education courses has to make a deposit of Rs 5,000.
“We mobilise the amount from the deposit fund for loans,” he said. The Karnali provincial government has also provided Rs 5 million to the school for the programme. According to Sigdel, the school has been constructing infrastructures to keep 3,000 chickens, 50 pigs and 20 goats at Rs 3.5 million. “With the remaining funds, we will issue loans to the students,” he said.
The school administration said that each student taking technical education courses at the school would have his/her own farm within a month. The school plans to distribute two chickens to each student of grade 4 and 5 and engage the students of grade 6 and 7 in vase farming.
A total of 1,361 students from several districts are enrolled in Janjyoti Secondary School. Among them, 300 students are taking technical courses.