Sonaha community believes not sending children to school will save money

Published On: June 13, 2019 04:30 AM NPT By: Yogesh Rawal

These people extract gold from rivers but the money they earn does not even assure two square meals

TIKAPUR, June 13: The poor financial condition of most of the people of Sonaha community living in Geruwa Rural Municipality of Bardiya has compelled their children to assist their families instead of going to schools.

There are around 92 households of this indigenous tribe in Sarkhol, Rajapur, Loharpur and Parseni of Geruwa who earn their living by extracting little traces of gold from rivers. Altogether 420 Sonahas live in these settlements. Among them, 120 are children eligible for going to school. Even though some of them go to school, they quit their studies after reaching the seventh or eighth grade.

"We don't have money to send our children to schools," said Dukharam Sonaha, adding, "That's why our children assist us in searching for gold and fishing."

So far, only four Sonahas living in different settlements of Geruwa have passed the 10th grade. However, none of them could continue their studies further.

Sanju Sonaha, who successfully passed her School Leaving Certificate (SLC), laments that she could not attain higher studies as her parents could not afford to pay her college fees.

"I somehow passed SLC by helping my parents at work," said Sanju, adding, "However, I could not study afterwards as higher education requires more fees." These people have been earning their living by winnowing sand in search of gold for generations and also by fishing.

They are often known as traditional gold miners. However, they have nothing in the name of assets.

Since the money they earn from their traditional profession does not even assure two square meals, Sonahas engage their children in household works and labor instead of sending them to school.

"We don't have money to send our children to schools," said Dukharam Sonaha, adding, "That's why our children assist us in searching for gold and fishing."

These people think that not sending their children to school will save their money. "If they go to schools, we will have to spend money on their tuition fees. So, its better if they stay home and help us earn money," said another parent Anushka Sonaha.

The government has announced free education for the children of underprivileged and marginalized communities. But these people are not utilizing the opportunity. According to them, it would have been better if the state could take responsibility for the living expenses of their children.

"We want the government to assure free education along with other expenses for our children," said Raj Kumar Sonaha. After the country adopted the federal structure, the Sonahas had expected the three tiers of government to make efforts to uplift their living standard but that has not happened yet.

Jamman Singh KC, chairperson of Geruwa, claimed that he is concerned about the education of children belonging to the Sonaha community. He assured that a policy will be formulated to make education accessible to underprivileged communities like Sonahas.

"The local government is planning to bring policies to secure the right to education for all children," said Chairperson KC, adding, "We will see how we can make those children regular to school."


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