19 students die, 1 million still unable to go to school in flood-hit districts

Published On: September 2, 2017 03:49 AM NPT By: Bishnu Prasad Aryal

KATHMANDU, Sept 1: Nearly one million school going children are still deprived of the teaching-learning process in the southern plains of the country due to the recent floods. According to preliminary details collected by the Ministry of Education (MoE), 228 schools were damaged while 19 students died of floods that ravaged many districts on August 12 onwards.

“Nineteen students have died in the floods in different districts,” said Saraswati Pokhrel, joint-spokesperson for the MoE. “The data of different schools are still being compiled,” she added, “Schools in 17 districts were badly affected during the floods.”

Many school rooms are filled with mud and debris, drinking water pipelines and sources were damaged, school textbooks, libraries and teaching materials were washed away and dozens of schools were partially damaged during the incessant rains that hit the Tarai districts in the second week of August.

When guardians' associations claimed that more than 900,000 students are away from schools owing to the flood damage, the MoE said that at least 700,000 students in the Tarai districts have been deprived of the learning process due to the lack of school rooms and access routes disconnected by the floods. 

“On the one hand, over 900,000 school students in the earthquake ravaged districts of the hilly region are forced to continue their study under tents and huts after 2015 April 25, now about one million students are disconnected from schools in the tarai,” said Suprabhat Bhandari, former president of the Guardians Association Nepal. “It's the negligence of the government for failing to address the problems in emergency situations.”

According to the initial reports, 228 schools were completely destroyed while about 2,000 schools are partially damaged in the 17 districts of Tarai due to the floods. The plain areas down the east-west high way are the most affected. The plain areas near Indian border were inundated as India built a 10-ft high road along the border, said the government officials.

Hundreds of students now neither have textbooks nor have school uniforms as they were swept away along with their homes and utensils by the floods, said Pokhrel. “We are still collecting the details from the districts and updating the data,” she added.

According to the MoE, the flood hit the districts of Tarai include Rautahat, Sunsari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Morang, Jhapa, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardiaya, Kachanpur and Kailali. “Twenty-six schools and property worth Rs 6 million were affected in Dhanusha, 33 schools in Chitwam, 45 schools in Saptari and 14 schools in Makwanpur were partially damaged,” said Pokhrel.

The flood-affected people in the tarai districts have been using several school building as shelters after their houses made of mud, sticks and grass were swept away or damaged by the flood. However, the government is yet to do anything significant to rehabilitate them, operate the closed schools by reconstructing them and ensure children's right to education in the flood-hit districts.

The MoE asked the government on Friday to immediately provide Rs 300 million for restarting the damaged schools, Pokhrel. “We are still uncertain when the schools will reopen,” she said. “The schools should be maintained well, supplied with materials and students should be provided with essential teaching-learning materials,” she added. 

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