File photo of a girl in Rolpa returning home from school – Dinesh Subedi
Some schools in the district are considering running physical classes soon
ROLPA, Sept 17: School teachers and students in Rolpa have felt dejected by the government's insistence to enrol new students and resume online or distance learning from Thursday. Very few people in Rolpa carry smartphones and digital literacy is equally rare. Not every house owns a radio or television, according to Bagbir Gharti, principal of Janata Secondary School, located at a remote village of Rolpa.
"Amid this coronavirus pandemic, we saw how the government discriminates between the rich and the poor. Nobody cares about the ground realities of this place," Gharti lamented. "We have no option to running physical classes, our students and teachers are not equipped with facilities needed for digital classes," he added.
According to him, schools in Rolpa are in a dilemma. If classes are not run, both teachers and students are going to feel low as they know others would simply leave them behind. "They know that other schools will not wait for them but run digital classes. There has already been a gap and it will stretch further now," he stated.
Also according to Madhusudan Pokharel, principal of Namuna Secondary School at the district headquarters, keeping pace with schools in other towns and villages is not easy for Rolpa. Children in very few families in Rolpa have access to computers or mobile phones, he said.
"We do have the fear of coronavirus. Yet, we have no option to going for physical classes. We have already started running physical classes," he added.
The teachers have been running classes at a dozen different locations around the school. Students from nursery to fourth grade attend classes near their house while for the elders, the distance is not considered properly. "We had to consider the problems of the teachers as well and manage accordingly. For little kids, their learning centers are near their houses," Pokharel said.
Meanwhile, chairperson of Madi Rural Municipality, Nanda Bahadur Pun stressed that the education of students shouldn't be interrupted anymore. As the schools in other parts of the country have geared up for new admissions and are running classes, the administration in Rolpa 'should also do something', he said.
"We have many constraints. Still, we cannot simply sit idle. Now the best way is to adopt all measures against the outbreak of the virus and operate the schools," Pun maintained. "All local units in Rolpa should take initiatives to open the schools. We ensure distribution of masks, sanitizers etc. Health facilities are crucial," he added.
Lungri Rural Municipality has, however, not yet decided what to do. As the COVID-19 cases have spiked, chairperson of the municipality Durga Bahadur Khadka thinks that it is better to wait for some time before sending children to schools. "The situation is worse than before, so it is not wise to let children attend physical classes. For digital education, we don't have the necessary resources," he said.
Mayor of Rolpa Municipality, Purna KC informed Republica that all schools within the municipality are open from Thursday as directed by the government. However, the teaching models are different at different schools, he said.
The government this time announced to start a student enrollment campaign from August 17, delayed by four months. Earlier, new academic sessions would begin around April.