Trapped between the shortfall of students and government policy, Kamalpur Basic School in Chitwan faces an uncertain futureThe school has 25 students enrolled this academic year. Until two years ago, the school had grades up to five; the fifth grade was discontinued due to a lack of students.
Ramesh Kumar Paudel
The basic school, which was established in 1971, has five grades but only two rooms, from which it runs its academic and administrative functions. The school has 25 students enrolled this academic year. Until two years ago, the school had grades up to five; the fifth grade was discontinued due to a lack of students.
“At one point, the total number of students used to be well over 100,” informed Aak Bahadur Gurung, the 71-year-old chair of the school management committee who received his basic education from the same school.
Kamalpur Village, which lies at a corner of Bharat Metropolitan City, is a settlement of 36 households comprising mostly of Chepang, Gurung and Dalit communities. With the dwindling number of students, locals and teachers fear that the school might shut down.
Gurung blamed the shrinking number of students to the increasing rate of out-migration and the remoteness of the village.
“When somebody goes abroad and comes back with some money, the first thing he will do is migrate to the cities,” said Gurung. “The only people remaining are the uneducated ones with a poor financial status.”
Ward Chair Mann Bahadur Magar said that there have been discussions on merging the school with other schools in Ward Number 29, which has a total of 14 schools. The government has been merging schools because of a decline in student numbers. But because the schools are a long distance away from one another, it’s difficult for students to travel.
The nearest school from Kamalpur is at least an hour’s walk away, according to Dhakal. “The school is facing a crisis, but if it is merged with another school, students will stop studying altogether,” Dhakal said.
So if the school is merged, it will mean the school is closed for Kamalpur residents, said Gurung.
“There are very few students in Kamalpur, but the condition will further worsen if the government shuts down the school citing a lack of students,” Gurung said.