Durbar High School’s new building reeks of mismanagementSchool administrators say they were handed over a new building with lots of facilities, but didn’t receive additional financial and human resources to manage the infrastructure.
When President Bidya Devi Bhandari inaugurated the historical Durbar High School in October last year, the floors of the new building were so clean that visitors could see their reflection on it.
The toilets were embellished with auto-flush systems and students, even those from private ones, were looking forward to attending the government school.
But four months later, the building built at the cost of Rs850 million with Chinese assistance reeks of mismanagement. While the building is full of dust, the toilets stink and some of the automatic flushing systems have gone defunct.
The school's administration says it has been unable to maintain the new building as it doesn’t have the human resources nor any additional budget to do so. “The main challenge for us is to maintain the infrastructure,” said Akhilesh Azad, principal at Bhanu School.
After the Chinese government handed over new infrastructure to the government, the school had even attracted students from private schools and those who could not attend private schools as their parents’ income was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The four storey building is shared by two schools with around 600 students—Bhanu runs classes during the day, and Sanskrit School runs morning and day shifts.
“Both schools only have two cleaning staffers, but the building has 18 toilets. These two staffers can only keep three toilets clean. Who will clean the corridors?” asked Azad.
He said the school has been unable to even pay the electricity bill. “Every month we need to pay over Rs 50,000 for electricity and the schools do not have any other source of income. How can we afford to add more cleaning staff?” said Azad.
The school has 35 teachers—17 at Sanskrit and 18 at Bhanu.
The school administration says it needs at least half a dozen cleaning staffers to keep the corridors, toilets and classrooms clean.
With attractive infrastructures such as computer labs, science labs, inhouse table tennis boards, and well equipped classrooms, both Bhanu and Sanskrit schools had admitted over 60 percent more students this year compared to the previous year.
“When I first joined the school, it was neat and clean, but now the corridors are covered with dust, and toilets stink,” said a ninth grader girl, who joined Sanskrit School this year.
“One of the reasons I joined this school was because of its good infrastructure and facilities the new buildings offered,” she told the Post.
Shiva Raj Adhikari, principal at the Sanskrit School, agrees with his student.
“As the school building is located next to the main road, it’s going to be dusty,” said Adhikari. “But we don’t have enough cleaners. The same is the condition with the toilets.”
He said Chinese government has agreed to provide maintenance services for the building for two years. “But they won’t help us clean it,” said Adhikari.
Both the principals say they have written to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City seeking help to maintain the building.
“Earlier, the Department of Education of the city had vowed to carry out maintenance work. But now it is indifferent to the situation,” said Adhikari.
In his speech last year, Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya had promised to paint and clean all community schools within the city.
The Physical Infrastructure Department of the city said it has repainted and cleaned 92 community schools within the city, but it has not touched Durbar High School. When the Post asked Ram Thapa chief of the department, he passed the buck on to the education department of the city.
When the Post contacted Ram Prasad Subedi, chief of the education department, he said the city is working on a plan. “Even the mayor has promised to develop Durbar High School as a model school,” said Subedi.
The school administration, however, is not assured by Subedi’s words.