The only school in the Raji community in Bhajani is on the verse of collapseThe school was established around 12 years ago, with efforts by the locals.
Bhuruwa in Kailali is a settlement of Raji people, an ethnic community found scattered in several districts of the mid- and far-western-regions of the country.
The settlement that falls inside the Bhajani Municipality Ward No. 9 has around 300 households with around 150 children of school-going age. However, the only school—Sonpal Basic School—which most Raji children attend is on the verge of closing down, for a lack of resources.
“The school is in shambles. It does not even have a proper drinking water facility for the children,” said Dhaniram Raji, headmaster of the school.
The school was established around 12 years ago, with the effort of the locals, after they realised the importance of formal education for their children.
Although the school enjoys the status of a community school, it does not enjoy the facilities that come with the status. The school that runs classes till grade five has five teachers—only two of them are commissioned by the government with three of them working under the private quota. According to the law, the local units are responsible for hiring teachers for community schools.
The municipality, however, provided Rs 120,000 grant to the school last year as support and is yet to hire the required number of teachers in the school, said Dhaniram. “The amount the municipality gave us, we used to pay the salary of the teachers. We haven’t been informed whether we will get the budget for the same this year or not,” he added.
The school currently has 151 students among whom five are from the non-Raji community. Highlighting the importance of running the school despite shortcomings, Sukaram Raji, chairman of the school management committee, said, “We have innumerable problems. We don’t have enough teachers and we haven’t been able to give the best education to our children but if we don’t carry on, the school will shut down. Our children will have nowhere else to go to receive an education.”
Sher Bahadur Chaudhary, mayor of Bhajani Municipality, said that the municipality would support Sonpal School as it does other community schools in the municipality. “We have allocated budget to the school this year as well. The assistance will be sent to the school soon,” said Chaudhary. He, however, did not tell the exact amount of grant. “They (Raji people) have just only started opting for formal education and it is our responsibility to support them,” he added.
Raji is one of the most endangered and economically deprived indigenous communities in Nepal. According to the national census conducted in 2011, there are total 4,235 Raji people in Nepal.
They are believed to be originally from Surkhet district and over the years have settled near Basanta Bio-corridor in Kailali district.