Many students in dilemma after local unit decides to close or downgrade schoolsTamakoshi Rural Municipality of Ramechhap is either closing or downgrading 23 of its 48 community schools.
Tika Prasad Bhatta
Tribikram Mahat from Ward No 4 of the Tamakoshi Rural Municipality is a worried father. His son who passed grade five is now ready to attend grade six but his academic future is uncertain.
Gaiyasori Community School offered classes from grade one to eight, but due to the rural municipality’s recent decision to downgrade and close community schools, the school now only offers classes from grade one to five.
Mahat, who is also the head of the parent committee of the school, says the local unit's decision has left several parents like him in a fix. “The rural municipality’s decision is hasty and unplanned. I have to enrol my son in another school, but there are no other schools nearby. I don’t know what to do,” he said.
The rural municipality’s decision to merge and downgrade community schools is due to the declining enrollment number in these schools, says Ram Singh Dadal, head of the education unit of the rural municipality.
According to the data of the rural municipality, there are 48 community schools in the rural municipality out of which 23 schools are either being closed or downgraded.
A couple of days ago, the local unit closed down Kalikadevi Basic School and Navasrijan Basic School in Ward 2. Students of these two schools will now have to go to another school further from the ones they were attending.
“The schools on the list of schools of closure or downgrade had fewer students but high operational and infrastructure maintenance costs,” said Dadal. “Most of these schools are in remote areas. The teachers and school staff of those schools have been transferred to other schools where the student numbers are high.”
While the rural municipality has moved all the school furniture and equipment to other schools and also reassigned the teachers and staff, it is yet to make transfer arrangements for the students of the schools that were closed or downgraded.
“Before taking this decision, the authorities should have thought about the children. Teachers have been transferred to other schools, but the students still have no idea where to go,” said Mahat. “Gaiyasori Community School was the only basic school in Ward 4. Now children, including my son, will have to walk for an hour and a half on a difficult route to go to school in Manthali Municipality.”
The rural municipality claims to have taken the decision for the betterment of the education system. “If we merge schools, we will have combined resources and better output,” said Dadal. “Another factor that contributed to this decision was the decline in the population of the villages. The houses are empty with most families migrating. There are only a handful of children in the villages. We will ensure those children will not be left out of the education system.”