KATHMANDU, July 2: After the end of the decade long Maoist insurgency, five schools were established in each development region under the management of Shahid Pratisthan Nepal.
Those schools are dedicated to imparting education to the children of the families of martyrs, who were either victims of the state or the Maoists.
The government has been providing millions of rupees every year to run these schools since their establishment. However, all these schools, located each in Itahari, Dolakha, Kaski, Doti and Dang districts, are in sorry state despite the massive budget they get.
Shahid Pratisthan (Martry Academy) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) which manages the funds provided by the the Ministry of Education.
The ministry has been providing over Rs 50 million annually to the academy for managing the five schools.
However, these funds hardly get used for schools' development purpose. Food and lodging facilities as well as studies in those schools are in a very pathetic condition, students complained.
“Hostel facility is very poor. We are served very poor quality food. And we are also forced to sleep in narrow rooms,” said Goma Bhattarai, a tenth grader at Itahari- based Martyr Memorial Higher Secondary School (HSS) in Sunsari district. “Classrooms are very congested. This severely hampers our studies.”
Mana Giri, principal of Pokhara- based Martyr Memorial Residential HSS, said that students are given a very paltry amount as monthly allowance. According to her, the academy provides students with Rs 2,000 monthly, which includes cost for foods, medicines and stationary items.
“This amount is hardly enough for anything. How can growing children be provided with nutritious food when their monthly food allowance is just Rs 1,700,” she questioned, adding that students can hardly fill their belly twice a day by the amount. The academy has not increased the monthly allowances despite repetitive requests, she further added.
The Martyr Memorial HSS in Dang district has been running without school management committee ever since the committee formed under the leadership of the then Maoist District Coordinator Ganga Karki was dismissed. School principal Hiraraj Dahal said running the school has become very problematic in lack of enough budget.
According to him, there are 360 students studying in the school, out of which 308 are taking hostel facilities. As many as 12 children are forced to share one room, which become very difficult especially in summer.
Likewise, Chewan Paudel, vice-principal of Itahari-based Martyr Memorial HSS, said the school has been sustaining solely with the help of teachers recruited on contract basis. Most of the teachers recruited by the schools are Maoist supporters. However, Paudel said they are starting to recruit teachers on merit basis of late.
While visiting Dang district about a month ago, Minister for Supplies Ganesh Man Pun had promised to allocate Rs 50 million every year for each Martyr Memorial school. Similarly, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also made a similar promise during his Dang visit about two months ago. Such promises are not new to locals of the district. However, they have been limited to words only.
“Every leader visiting the district makes promise about increasing the budget for the five Martyr Memorial schools. We are having hard time managing the funds,” said school principal Paudel.
(Our reporters Santosh Pokharel from Pokhara, Ramesh Khatiwada from Dolakha, Devendra Basnet from Dang and Amar Khadka from Itahari contributed for this article)