A basic school in Rajbiraj fails to attract studentsThe school has a total of 13 students from grade one to five and all of them are given lessons together.
On paper, Bal Mandir Basic School in Rajbiraj has a total of 65 students—47 from grade one to five and 18 in the child development centre of the institution. But the school, which runs classes from grade one to five, only has 13 students attending classes regularly.
The municipality has allocated a budget of Rs 1.5 million this fiscal year to the school, which has two teachers for grade one to five and an additional teacher for its child development centre. The school has four classrooms and can accommodate around 100 students, but on Tuesday morning, all 13 students were basking in the sun while a teacher was taking a collective class.
“Since the number of students is less, we decided it’s better to teach all of them together,” said Shanti Jha, the principal of the school. But what the principal has not taken into consideration is the impact it has on the students’ learning capacity. Bishnu Yadav, a local who studied in the school up to grade five, said, “The students in this school are behind the lesson plan. The teachers do not teach properly. How can you when you put students from different grades in one class.”
According to the Education Unit of Rajbiraj Municipality, a total of Rs1,142,037 is spent annually for the salary of teachers and an office assistant at the school. Besides that, the school also receives Rs135,000 for the mid-day meal programme, Rs13,700 to purchase textbooks for students, Rs15,000 as the management expenditure, Rs150 per student to buy stationeries, Rs17,200 for scholarship to the students, Rs10,000 for auditing accounts, Rs40,000 to buy uniforms for the teachers and Rs500 per student in child development centre to buy necessary educational materials.
“The performance of Bal Mandir Basic School is almost nil in light of the investment it has received. Such under-performing schools are the reason why the municipality faces challenges to meet its education goals,” said Bhogendra Yadav, chief at the education unit of Rajbiraj Municipality.
Acknowledging the extremely poor academic performance of the school, Mayor Shambhu Yadav said that he plans to merge the school with another soon and resolve the problem. “The merger is on hold due to some legal hurdles. We will initiate a merger within a month,” said Yadav.
The locals believe that the school does not provide quality education, so they prefer not sending their wards to the school. “The school does not have co-curricular and extracurricular activities for the students. There is no learning environment,” said Bishnu, the ex-student. “The local unit and the concerned authorities should also monitor the school regularly. They should take action too because as long as there are no consequences, the school will continue to underperform.”