School textbooks yet to reach remote areas in Karnali districtHigh airfare and disruption of road networks have delayed the transportation of textbooks.
Community schools in Humla are yet to receive textbooks despite the start of the current academic year one and a half months ago.
Transportation of textbooks to Humla, a remote district in Karnali Province that is yet to be connected with road networks, has been difficult due to expensive airfare, officials say.
The federal government has subsidised the transportation fare of school textbooks from Nepalgung to Humla at Rs 34 per kg. But air cargo companies are charging up to Rs 120 per kg at present.
“Air service has become irregular in the district owing to the risk of Covid-19. Companies have hiked fares not just on cargo but also on regular flights. We haven’t been able to transport textbooks to Humla because of the high airfare,” said Dhanajawa Rokaya, the proprietor of Rokaya Book Shop that was awarded the contract to transport textbooks in Simkot Rural Municipality.
Community schools in the rural municipality need 5,145 sets of books in total. But Rokaya Book Shop has been able to deliver just 600 sets so far. According to Rokaya, of the 600 sets delivered, 317 have been supplied to Mansarovar Secondary School and 283 to Balmandir Secondary School.
Rokaya Book Shop is also responsible for transporting and supplying textbooks to the community schools of Namkha and Kharpunath rural municipalities.
Similarly, community schools in Chankheli and Sarkegad rural municipalities are yet to receive textbooks for this academic year. Textbooks are generally transported to these two places, which lie in the southern part of the district, by road.
According to Mandev Shahi, the contractor responsible for transporting textbooks to the two rural municipalities, he was unable to make the books available on time due to the obstruction of the Karnali Corridor at Jitegada of Kalikot district.
He said 2,534 sets of textbooks were stuck on the way to Chankheli due to road obstruction. It costs Rs 15 to Rs 20 to transport one kilogram of books by road from Nepalgunj to Humla.
Community schools in Tajakot Rural Municipality have also yet to receive textbooks.
“The rural municipality has recently decided to run physical classes. But the textbooks are yet to arrive,” said Surendra Bahadur Shahi, the headmaster of Balkalyan Basic School in Tajakot.
According to him, the school administration has been running physical classes for the past few days by following health security protocol.
“But it is difficult to teach students without books. We have been running classes using old textbooks,” he added.
School textbooks are also yet to be transported to Mugu, another remote district of Karnali Province. Jayalaxmi Stationery, which was awarded the contract for transporting books across the district, has been unable to complete the delivery as of now.
“The textbooks meant for Mugu are stuck in Surkhet. The books could not be transported, as vehicular movement has been disrupted in the area,” said Jayalaxmi Bham, the proprietor of the stationery.
The unavailability of books in Karnali has greatly affected the students.
“Schools have remained closed for the past few months amid fears of Covid-19. Making things worse, we don’t even have textbooks now. How are we supposed to learn anything in this environment?” said Rajendra BK, a ninth grader at Malika Secondary School in Kharpunath-1.
(Raj Bahadur Shahi contributed reporting from Mugu.)