December 6, 2017 04:30 AM NPT
By: Himal Lamsal
KHUMJUNG, Dec 6: Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun last Friday inaugurated a school building in Khumjung that was devastated by the devastating earthquakes of 2015.
Students were forced to study under the open sky in the chilly environment of the Everest region as the school lies at an altitude of 3,790 meters. The building of Khumjung Secondary School was reconstructed by the community in collaboration with the Himalayan Trust.
The only secondary school in the region which was established 56 years ago by mountaineer Edmund Hilary has been operating with assistance from the government as well as donors. According to the Himalayan Trust, it contributed Rs 12.4 million while the community contributed Rs 2.06 million for the reconstruction of the five-room school building and compound wall.
Students, teachers and guardians alike are now happy to have a new building of the school. “I cried a lot after my classroom was wrecked,” said seventh-grader Dolma Sherpa, who witnessed the nature's fury when she had just joined the fifth grade. “Now, I am so happy,” she said.
The school building was handed over to the school management committee on Friday. The students performed a cultural show on the occasion. “The students were terrified after the devastation. We convinced them not to lose hope and they resumed their classes,” said school principal Shambhu Prasad Bastola. “Now, we can see happiness in their face again,” he added.
The trust took initiative to reconstruct the school building after the concerned authorities turned a cold shoulder to the reconstruction efforts, according to Pasang Dawa Sherpa, chairperson of the trust. “There is neither road connection nor the presence of the government in Khumjung,” said Sherpa. “We were worried about the study of children and started working on it ourselves,” he said. “We have reconstructed the buildings of 15 schools in upper and lower Solukhumbu.”
Dik Bahadur Rai, chief district education officer of Solukhumbu, said that 1,033 classrooms were completely damaged during the earthquake. “The reconstruction took time due to difficult topography and expensive construction materials,” he said. There are 270 community and 10 private schools in the district.
The government has allocated only Rs 6.3 million to construct a school building in the district. “This amount is not enough even for transporting the construction materials,” said Rai. “The government has planned to complete reconstruction within five years,” he said.