Shortage of textbooks affects studies in Far-west hill districtsStudents, teachers left in the lurch while authorities concerned appear indifferent.
Menuka Dhungana & Tripti Shahi
More than three months since the start of the current academic year, textbooks are yet to reach the community schools in various hill districts of Sudurpaschim Province.
This has severely affected the academic session, which began on May 15 this year. The students and teachers are left in lurch as the authorities concerned appear indifferent to the problem.
Ramita Bogati, a sixth grader at Mangalsen-based Shodasha Secondary School in Achham, said she and her classmates have had to entirely depend on the teacher's lecture.
“I have not yet received Nepali textbook and I could not manage the old books used by senior brothers and sisters last year,” Bogati said. “We are unable to do homework and study at home.”
Almost all the textbooks printed by the Janak Education Material Centre, which is responsible for supplying textbooks to local book dealers, are in short supply in the province.
The community schools in Achham have been facing a shortage of economics, accountancy and education subject books of grade 9 and 10 and several books of grade 6 and 8, students said, with the hardest hit being those who are preparing for the Secondary Education Examination.
More than 40 percent of courses should have been covered by this time but the shortage of textbooks has affected course coverage, they said.
Bishnu Dhungana, a grade 10 student at Shodasha Secondary School, alleged the headmaster has paid no heed to their concerns about book shortage.
“We frequently ask the headmaster when we will be provided with the book. He just assures us that the book will be provided shortly,” Dhungana said. “But we don’t know when.”
The shortage not only disrupts regular academic programmes but also gives school administrators and teachers a tough time achieving education goals. Almost all the community schools in the province could not conduct the first terminal examination as planned, according to Madan Kunwar, the headmaster of Shodasha Secondary School.
“The schools are not yet officially informed when the textbooks are supplied,” Kunwar said. “Our school is planning to hold the terminal exam in the second or third week of September if the books are supplied within a few days.”
The Janak Education Material Centre supplies the textbooks to schools through its dealers and the local unit provides the institutions with the amount to purchase the books, according to Kunwar.
Ishwar Rawal, the proprietor of Bhuwan Stationery in Mangalsen which supplies books to over 50 community schools in Achham, said the Janak Education Material Centre is yet to supply the textbooks to its authorised dealers in the district.
“We have been informed that the books will be supplied within a few days but we can’t say for certain when that will be,” Rawal said.
Community school teachers the Post talked to said the students have started bunking the classes due to the shortage of books.
“Many students do not attend their classes regularly and those that do, do not stay until the final bell,” said Dal Bahadur Rawal, a teacher of Janajyoti Basic School in Rahaph, which lies some 90km away from Mangalsen. “The shortage recurs every year and affects academic programmes.”
The students and teachers in neighbouring Baitadi share a similar ordeal. The students of several community schools in the district attended the first terminal examinations without the textbooks.
“The students of grade 6 and 8 got the textbooks only after the terminal exams. Even so, a few of them are yet to receive the books,” said Ganesh Awasthi, a teacher at Gyaneshwar Secondary School in Patan, adding that the students are weak in their studies mainly due to the lack of textbooks.
Most of the schools have collected old textbooks of the last academic session and distributed them to the students. However, all the students do not have even the old books.
Puskar Raj Sharma, the information officer of the Education Development and Coordination Unit Office in Baitadi, said some of the textbooks of grade 4, 7 and 9 are yet to be supplied in Baitadi. “This has hugely affected teaching-learning,” Sharma said.