A teacher, who is also a nursing mother, interacts with students in her classroom at the Kotgaun Primary School of Rolpa. | Photo: Dinesh Subedi/Republica
ROLPA, Nov 28: Of the 407 community schools in Rolpa, 232 do not have even a single government teacher’s quota and only a very few of the schools have proper building or classrooms. In the lack of such resources schools here are operated in a pathetic condition that is affecting the education of thousands of children.
“We have been trying to appoint subject teachers, but in lack of the required budget, we have been unable to do so. The government does not pay for our teachers as we don’t have a quota for even a single government teacher,” said Kharkaraj Gharti, principal of Jana Jwoti Primary School, Kotgaun. “In lack of human resources, it is not possible for us to offer quality education to our students.”
According to Gharti, guardians of students enrolled at the school are poor and cannot pay hefty education fees for their children, thereby limiting the school’s ability to gather financial resources to operate the school. “Here, most of the people are poor; they cannot pay much for their children’s studies. Those who have money send their kids in better schools elsewhere.”
Locals feel that the government has not paid adequate attention to the ‘remote Rolpa’. Even after adopting the federal setup, locals claim that there has been no visible change in the education apparatus of the district. “Our children are still deprived of getting an education in good schools. We are poor and the government is yet to consider this reality,” said a local of Kotgaun, Dinesh Budha.
He shared that community schools, no matter how little fees the community schools charge, it is hard for the parents to pay. Apart from school fees, parents have to also manage finances for buying dresses, books, and stationaries for their children. “And that is not easy for us. We cannot provide what the children need at the school. Nor can we support the schools adequately.”
Among the 407 community schools in the district, 101 primary, 67 lower secondary and 64 secondary level schools don’t have even a single quota for a government-appointed teacher. In the remaining schools too, the government has not allocated the required quotas of teachers. Finding a well-run community school in this district is a daunting task. “We are finding it very hard to operate the school. It feels very sad to say so, “ said Gharti.
Keshar Bahadur KC, principal of Jalaupokhari Secondary School says his school is on the verge of closure. “We are succumbing to poverty and crunch of resources’ he noted.
The school pays around Rs 80,000 to teachers monthly. The government does not share the burden. And paying that hefty amount is now becoming ‘impossible’ for the school to manage.
“We have decided to quit. There is no other way. There are no resources; there is no government quota for teachers. We don’t have anything to rely on for paying our teachers,” said KC.
The salary amount is being provided through school fees. But this has gradually taken a toll on students’ number. Every year, the school is losing its students. “And sadly, students are not leaving us for joining a better school, but instead they are dropping out to assist their parents in their work,” said KC.
Schools cannot charge fees to students as they want. According to KC, it is only during the admission time, schools make some money. Though the government has promised ‘free admission’, community schools have been charging a certain amount as admission and re-admission fees to new as well as old students respectively.
“But like private schools, we cannot charge students on a monthly basis. Only on some occasions, we request parents to support us,” said KC.
Hari Dangi, principal of Namli Lower Secondary School, said that teachers are not happy with the salaries they are paid at the school. Monthly, the school pays a total of Rs 45,000 to teachers. “We collect some money as admission fee at the start of the new session. We deposit in a bank and cover our annual expenses,” said Dangi. “But now we don’t have any balance left in our bank account for paying their salaries. We are worried.” School teachers and principals in Rolpa have urged the government to increase teacher’s quota. If salary is paid by the government, the school can handle the rest of the expenses on its own, they state. As per the record, teachers’ quota in Rolpa is less by 60 percent. “The government must be serious to fill this gap,” said Dangi.
Dan Bahadur Gurung, chief of the coordination committee of District Education Development Board, Rolpa admits the sorry educational scenario in this remote land. “It is true that the schools here are not running properly. There are many reasons including the lack of teachers,” he said. “This has certainly affected children’s education.”
He stated that the local government must take interest on the matter and come up with some solution to address the problem.
Also according to a local student leader, Sher Bahadur Thapa, local government should intervene and support in a vital field like education. “The country has gone federal. The local government must take due responsibilities. Just imposing taxation on people does not work,” he said. “Local representatives are misusing fund and children are not provided quality education, people must question this.”
As per the Rolpa District Education Office, there are around 90,000 school students in the district.