ROLPA, May 4: In the last one decade, road networks across the country have remarkably expanded including in the high hills of Rolpa. Poor engineering or haphazard opening of tracks has been blamed for environmental hazards as well. Amid this, a local unit here in eastern Rolpa has decided to shift its focus from roads to education. Stating that the overall development of any place depends on education, Sunil Smriti Rural Municipality has taken initiatives to improve the educational scenario here.
"We prepared some education policies. We are now implementing them," said Gunendra Gharti, chairperson of the rural municipality. "It is very important for the locals to be aware and active and play a participatory role in public activities. And only education can bring such zeal among the people," he added.
The rural municipality has targeted to improve some schools in the first phase. Families of the poor and marginalized children were provided with re-chargeable electric lights a few weeks ago. A total of 321 children's families were given such tools so that they are able to study in the evening. Some parts of Rolpa still lack access to electricity.
"We had distributed the lights not just for the convenience of the families and the children, but also for sensitizing them. They will be forced to think. We have other programs in the pipeline," said Gharti. He added that there are incentives for families which send their kids to school despite being poor and underprivileged.
"Similarly, we have some programs to address the school dropout rate."
The rural municipality is set to add teachers' quota as needed. Merging schools depending on their situation is also something the office has been thinking of, according to Gharti.
"There are many schools here in Rolpa which are struggling for survival. Due to the lack of resources, they are operating pathetically. We have studied the scenario very well, and we are going to fix things here in the rural municipality," Gharti stated.
Gharti further said that school infrastructure is one of the major priorities of the local government. Schools in Sunil Smriti Rural Municipality will no more have children sitting on the floor, he said. "There would be comfortable classrooms, carpets and cushions for small kids. Similarly, the education materials will be modern," he said.
He further said that preparations are underway to digitize teaching and learning. In view of the growing use of computers and internet, the rural municipality has developed tools and technologies to make schools familiar with the same. "There will be e-attendance of teachers and students in the morning," he said.
Yet the biggest mark, according to Gharti, is the decision of mandatory provision to educate children of civil servants only at government or community schools .
"Since the local representatives, civil servants and government school teachers cannot educate their children at private schools, the quality of education at the community schools is now bound to change," he said.
This decision of the rural municipality, among a few other local units, has hogged headlines lately. "Our priority now is education. Roads and other facilities received attention for long," Gharti said.