Landslides threaten to sweep away Sindhupalchok schoolMost of the students have stopped attending their classes which resumed only a few days ago.
Dobang Basic School in Jugal Rural Municipality-5, Sindhupalchok started conducting in-person classes a few days ago with health standards in place. However, the risk of the school building being swept away by running landslides on either side of it has kept most students out of school.
Ranjita Rayamajhi, the acting principal of the school, says she is worried about the safety of her students and staff during the ongoing monsoon.
“The risk of landslides is higher than the risk of getting infected by Covid-19,” Rayamajhi said.
A total of 79 children are currently enrolled at the school. The guardians, teachers and students are all anxious about the high risk of landslides in the area.
According to Rayamajhi, landslides started erupting below the school in 2017 but the authorities concerned have not paid much heed to it.
“The school is now at high risk, as no measures have been taken to control the landslides in the past few years. We repeatedly asked for help from the ward office and the rural municipal office but our requests were left unaddressed,” said Rayamajhi.
The students, although happy about returning to school after a long break due to Covid-19, have not been able to focus on their studies for fear of possible landslides.
“It has been raining for days here. The land around us continues to cave in,” said Susmita Tamang, a seventh-grader at the school. “I think about the landslides near our school whenever I hear news about landslides and floods in other areas.”
According to Jyan Dorje Lama, a resident of Jhirgaun, people are reluctant to send their wards to the school due to the high risk of landslides.
“Many school children are being sent to work in the fields instead of school by their parents. The parents don’t want to risk their children’s life by sending them to a school at risk of landslides,” Lama said.
Meanwhile, Sanat Adhikari, the ward chairman of Jugal-5, claimed that efforts are underway to control the landslides.
According to the District Education and Coordination Unit, eight schools in the Melamchi area and several others in different parts of Sindhupalchok, a landslide-prone district in Bagmati Province, are at risk of landslides.
“Many students in areas prone to landslides have been kept out of school due to the high risk. These children are being deprived of their right to education. Discussions are underway to find other alternatives to ensure that all children can have access to classrooms,” said Krishna Subedi, chief at the unit. “We have already informed the higher authorities about the risk of floods and landslides to the educational institutions of Sindhupalchok.”