Merger of community schools in Dhankuta leaves school buildings abandoned22 community schools have been merged in Dhankuta since the drive started three years ago.
Under the government’s drive to merge community schools, 22 out of 291 such schools have been merged with other schools in Dhankuta so far. The school buildings abandoned in the process have been out of use.
Last fiscal year, five community schools with inadequate enrolment rates were merged with the closest schools in the locality in the district. Devi Subedi, an officer at the Education Development and Coordination Unit, said, “Since the mergers, we have been receiving complaints of misuse of the physical infrastructure of abandoned schools.”
The local unit should hand over the responsibility of taking care of the abandoned school buildings to other government bodies, he added.
According to the latest data of the Education Development Directorate, 724 community schools have so far been merged across the country.
Upendra Dahal, director of the Education Development Directorate, said, “The merger process is still ongoing and by the end of the drive, there will be many abandoned school buildings. The local unit should formulate proper plans to put these buildings to use.”
Saraswati Rastriya Basic School in Kachinde, which was merged with Gokundeshwor Secondary School, wears a deserted look since the merger. Dojraj Bastola, who was the chairman of the Saraswati Rastriya Basic School Management Committee, said the school building is being used for unlawful activities such as drug peddling and use.
“People have also begun stealing doors and windows of the school [building],” said Bastola. “The school was merged as we had a negligible number of students and now the school building is open to public use as locals please.”
Niroj Pokharel, another local, said that the residents and the school administration have done little to stop the building from being looted and misused.
Yagya Prakash Chapagain, the headmaster of Gokundeshwor Secondary School, admitted that they have not been able to put the Saraswati Rastriya Basic School building to proper use. “We plan to coordinate with the locals to find best possible ways of using the building—in ways to benefit the community,” said Chapagain. The school has no funds to fence off the area.
The Ganesh Basic School was merged with Bhasa Secondary School two years ago and the former is gradually turning into a derelict structure.
Responding to the locals’ claim that the authorities have not paid attention to conserving these abandoned schools and their infrastructure, Ram Bahadur Thapa, chief of the education department at Dhankuta Municipality, said, “It is the school management’s responsibility to decide what is to be done with the physical infrastructure of the schools. They should make plans to put the school buildings to good use.”
Sundarbabu Shrestha, chairman of the Guardians’ Association Dhankuta, said he was saddened to see community schools closing down or having to resort to merger for lack of students.
“Private schools have been attracting new students to their schools whereas the number of students in community schools is decreasing every year leading to mergers and close-downs,” said Shrestha. “The local units and concerned community schools should look at ways to attract students to these schools.”
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