Achham children deprived of education with no means to attend online classesMost children in rural areas spend time roaming around villages, playing in groups or herding their livestock unaware of the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Thirteen-year-old Dev Jaishi of Ghodasain is a sixth grader at Bidhya Prabodhini Secondary School in Dhakari Rural Municipality, Achham. He has been spending his free time working at a construction site since his school closed following the Covid-19 crisis.
Dev has started collecting stones and crushing pebbles for the construction of a ward office building near his village.
“My school is closed and I have nothing to do at home. I thought it would be good to work and earn some money rather than staying free. Many of my friends are also busy crushing pebbles these days,” said Dev.
While school children in city areas are attending online classes, those in rural areas do not have the resources to do the same. Most spend their time roaming around villages, playing in groups or herding their livestock, unaware of the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Maina Jaishi, a mother of three children and a resident of Ward No. 8 of Dhakari, said she has been facing difficulties to take care of her children during the pandemic.
“We can’t keep them indoors all day and they go out to play with friends when I’m away at work,” said Maina. “I am constantly worried that they might contract coronavirus since newcomers to the village have tested positive for the virus.”
Siddha Bista of Muli, a father of four in Ward No. 1 of Kamalbazaar Municipality, also shared similar sentiments.
“It is difficult to keep our children at home as their schools have been closed. More and more workers from India are returning home and that makes me worried,” said Bista, “They say they were sent home without undergoing tests for coronavirus and this puts the entire community at high risk. Our children play outdoors all day and come in contact with the newcomers. I’m afraid they will catch the virus.”
Running online classes to keep the children occupied is impossible in rural areas, said Nain Singh Saud, a teacher at Manakamana Secondary School in Ward No. 4 of Dhakari.
“People here don’t even have access to radio, let alone the internet and computers. How can we start online classes?” asked Saud.
Dr Gunaraj Awasthi, director at the Provincial Health Directorate in Sudurpaschim Province, however, claims that there’s no need to worry about virus transmission since an individual cannot transmit the virus after 14 days in quarantine.
“A majority of returnees in Sudurpaschim Province have completed 14 days in quarantine. That’s why there's a low chance of the spread of Covid-19,” said Awasthi.
Out of 3,691 individuals in Sudurpaschim Province who have reported positive as of Monday, 460 are under 19 years of age. The data of the directorate showed that 277 infected are below 9.
“Parents should pay extra attention to their children during this time of pandemic and direct them to avoid crowds,” said Awasthi.