Children deprived of secondary-level education in a Madi settlementThe nearest secondary level school is about a two hours’ walk away.
Ramesh Kumar Paudel
Bisheshata Diyali of Bandarjhula in Madi, Chitwan, passed her eighth grade examinations this year and now wants to attend secondary school. But the problem is that there are no secondary schools in her village and the nearest one is about a two hours’ walk away.
“Our children will have to wade across rain-swollen rivers and pass through dense forest to reach school. We have not yet decided whether to send them to secondary school or not,” said Shanti, Bisheshata’s mother.
Bandarjhula in Ward No. 9 of Madi Municipality is around 60 kilometres from Bharatpur, the district headquarters of Chitwan. Surrounded by the Chitwan National Park on three sides, the locals of Madi have to pass through dense forests to reach the nearest settlement. There are three community schools in Bandarjhula, a settlement of around 500 households, but the schools run classes up to grade eight only.
“The students who recently passed grade eight are now in confusion. They and their guardians are not sure whether to continue with their studies or not,” said Gopal Pariyar, the headmaster of Rastriya Basic School in Bandarjhula. According to him, 27 students have passed grade eight from the school this year. “I think the majority of them won’t continue their studies, as the nearest secondary school is quite a distance away.”
The students have to go to Thori, a village in the neighbouring Parsa district which is around eight kilometres away, to get their secondary education.
“The secondary school in Madi is around 18 kms away from Bandarjhula. We have to cross a dense forest and the bus service is not regular along the route,” said Shanti.
The landless people from the hilly area of Chitwan and Makwanpur started settling down in Bandarjhula some 30 years ago. The Chitwan National Park claims Bandarjhula is the park’s property that got encroached by settlers.
The locals in 1992 built a hut in the settlement from where they started running classes upto the primary level. The government authority upgraded the school up to grade eight some five years ago.
Most local children complete their basic education from the school, but only a few continue with their secondary education.
“Around 125 students have passed grade eight from this school so far. Out of them, only 25 have passed the Secondary Education Exam,” said Pariyar.
Stating that the children are deprived of secondary education, the local people have urged the concerned authorities to upgrade the school in Bandarjhula.
“The authorities should know about our situation and run secondary level classes in the village,” said Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, a local.
A concrete school building was constructed a few years ago with the support of the government and a social organisation. “We have the necessary physical infrastructure to run classes up to grade 10. An application has been submitted at Madi Municipality asking permission to run classes upto the secondary level,” said Pariyar.
The municipality is well aware of the need of a secondary school in Bandarjhula but has not taken any decision into the matter citing a shortage of resources.
“The settlement is in a remote area and the students have to go far to get their secondary-level education. But we can not just start running secondary-level classes, as the municipality does not have enough resources to manage teachers,” said Pushparaj Dhakal, education unit chief of Madi Municipality.