Nepali politicians fail to keep their promises, most of the times. They promised us prosperity and development, but they are nowhere in our sight. Instead, we are battling with same little problems—unpaved roads, dust pollution, unavailability of drinking water and so on. They promised to bring Melamchi water to Kathmandu but the project is languishing in inaction, while Kathmandu residents are living with acute shortage of water. Projects like these may take more time than expected and some delays might be justifiable. But when leaders fail on what seems like an effortless undertaking, it raises question mark about their commitment, even intention. For example, Prime Minister Oli, while inaugurating Karnali-Rara Tourism Year-2075 on the shores of Rara Lake last year, announced to take up guardianship of eight-year-old Thinle Mangmu Lama, a child from Mugu. The photo of the PM clasping the child into his embrace went viral. He announced that like Thinle, no child in the country would have to be deprived of education. His wife Radhika Shakya also took the responsibility for education of Chhiring Chongjung of the same locality.
A year later, we find that neither the PM nor his wife has been able to provide the promised guardianship to these children. According to our report, the funds promised for their education have not materialized. And Thinle has set off on the risky undertaking of collecting yarsagumba in the remote parts of the district to support schooling. Prime Minister is not alone in making this kind of promise and faulting on it. Minister for Forest and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet had also announced to take up guardianship of two needy children—Pravesh Rawat and Sharmila BK—from his home village in Bheri Municipality. Rawat and BK were subsequently admitted in grade one and six respectively and were promised free education. But one of them, Sharmila, lives in an orphanage because reportedly the minister did not provide the support as promised. Former home minister Janardan Sharma also assumed the guardianship of 15 financially deprived children in Rukum West. He has not provided the promised assistance to the nine boys and six girls. They are left to the care of a children’s home.
Nepali leaders often resort to populism to draw people’s attention and to raise their popularity graph. The move of the PM and other leaders mentioned above, it now seems, was directed toward the same end. Their intentions must have been pure but their subsequent neglect to the poor children shows how insensitive they can be when it comes to creating the enabling environment for the education of poor children. We need to overhaul our education system. We need to allocate adequate budget for public education system, improve quality of education in public schools, provide them the best teachers and ensure that all children, rich or poor, attend schools. But like the previous governments, the current government does not seem focused on these imperatives. Much needs to be done to ensure that every child like Thinle can go to school but for the moment, these leaders, including the PM, who took up the guardianship of poor children, should fulfill their responsibility. It smacks of betrayal to the poor children to promise guardianship for education and then to leave them uncared and neglected.