Students at a Humla school take classes outdoorsThe building of Dharmodaya Secondary School in Tajakot Rural Municipality, which was destroyed by a landslide in 2019, is yet to be rebuilt.
Janak Bahadur Shahi
On August 16, 2019, heavy rainstorms triggered a landslide at Chhaprela in Tajakot Rural Municipality, Humla, that swept away eight houses and displaced 150 individuals. The landslide also partially destroyed one of the oldest schools, Dharmodaya Secondary School, in the rural municipality. More than a year since the disaster, the school building is yet to be reconstructed.
The school that runs classes from grades six to 12 has around 450 students enrolled this year. However, teaching-learning activities have been affected, as three of the six school buildings were swept away by the landslide.
“We are using only two of the remaining buildings since one is in a dilapidated condition,” said Gangadatta Jaishi, the headmaster.
The school administration has been conducting classes for grades six, seven, 11 and 12 in the open space outside the school.
“We have accommodated the students of grades eight, nine and 10 in the two remaining buildings,” said Jaishi.
The absence of classrooms has affected the academic performance of students since classes have to be cut short during unfavourable weather conditions.
“We have to leave mid-class if it starts raining or when it gets too windy to sit outside,” said Ramesh Shahi, a sixth-grader. “The school remained closed during the pandemic. Classes resumed only in February this year but we are still not able to attend regular classes.”
Tajakot Rural Municipality is around 54 kilometres from Simkot, the district headquarters of Humla. The rural municipality has already received a budget of Rs 9 million from the provincial and federal governments for the construction of the school building. Geologists have recommended the school administration move the school to a safer location since the land it is built on is at risk of landslides. But the school administration has not been able to implement the plan for a lack of suitable plot to build the school.
“We have received a budget for the construction of buildings for Dharmodaya Secondary School. However, the selection of land plots for the said infrastructure is in limbo,” said Lal Prasad Dhakal, acting chief administrative officer of Tajakot Rural Municipality.
Guardians say the current teaching-learning arrangement has discouraged their children from going to school.
“My daughter says she is no longer interested in going to the school. It’s been more than a year since the school buildings were destroyed and the authorities have not taken any concrete steps to rebuild,” Jangalal Khadka, the father of a ninth-grader at the school, told the Post.
The other closest secondary school is in Madana, around a four-hour walk from Chhaprela in Tajakot.
“We have been requesting the people’s representatives to take initiatives to reconstruct the school buildings but they have turned a blind eye to the issue,” Khadka said.