SURKHET, Aug 25: Jagat Bhul, 15, does not go to school when it rains heavily. When the monsoon is at its peak, his routine gets disturbed. A local of Ranga village of Kailali, Bhul cannot attend classes even other times if the weather is not fine. Bad weather means risks added to an already perilous journey to the school. "We have to cross the Karnali River to reach our school. And it's always a very dangerous affair. More so, when the river swells," said the 10th grader at Jagganath Secondary School located at Chaukune Rural Municipality of Surkhet.
But why does a boy from Kailali has to study at a school in another district? It's simple - there is no secondary school in his village. Not just secondary, the village doesn't even have a lower secondary school. And therefore, Bhul is just one among the 80 students from Ranga village to attend a school in Surkhet, crossing the mighty river daily.
"The river is border between our village and Surkhet and there is no bridge. So we cross it either on a boat or a rubber wheel," reported Bhul. "We leave for the school very early morning and yet sometimes we cannot reach there on time," he added.
Ranga village is surrounded by the Karnali River. According to the students, sometimes they reach their school in the morning somehow but getting back home becomes very, very tough.
"In the morning, the weather looks fine and then we leave for school. But while getting back home, the weather suddenly gets worse. During such times, we are left in a dilemma," said Bhul's classmate Khagi Salami. "Many students quit the school due to such challenges."
It is not that the locals of Ranga village did not try to solve the problem. They talked to the local stakeholders several times and pressured them for higher level schools in the village . However, that has not yielded any result so far.
"Our parents tried their best. But the local government has not paid attention," said Radha Bhul, also a local of Ranga village who studies in the 9th grade at the school in Surkhet.
According to the Principal Thammar BC, the students from Kailali have not been able to concentrate on their studies due to the transportation issue. "Their plight is very serious. Young children have to come to school crossing the Karnali river everyday, risking their lives," he said. "In the absence of a bridge, dozens of students are facing that much inconvenience daily. This has affected their overall performance as well," he added.
Had there been a bridge, the students would have made a safe 35 minutes long journey to the school. Unfortunately, they spend hours just to and fro the school these days.
Principal BC meanwhile lamented the lack of a hostel in his school. Had there been a residential facility for children, they would be spared of all the hassles. "Our internal budget does not suffice for such buildings or facilities, we feel very sorry for the children from Kailali," he said.