CHITWAN, June 8: Manika Praja of Kunagaun village of Madi Municipality used to walk for over an hour everyday to reach her school located at Kharkatta village. While returning home, the distance would feel even longer as she would be exhausted due to the long hours of study at the school. Praja would have to walk for at least three hours every day to get education.
"I would miss classes most of the time. When a little bit sick, or little late to leave for the school, an easier option would be to let it go instead," said Praja. "Long hours of walk gets even challenging when the weather is not fine."
But Praja does not have to miss her classes anymore. Jan Jivan School at Kharkatta village where she studies in the 7th grade has introduced transportation service for its students and staff. Not only Praja but also 11 other students of the Magar and Sunar communities are benefiting from the service.
"There are no higher level schools in our village; children have no choice to walking. But this time, we are very lucky that we have a school bus," an elated Praja said. "We don't get tired like before, our time is saved."
According to Nisha Sunar, a 9th grader at the school, all community schools should provide bus service. Because poor and underprivileged children, who often have to work at home join community schools, they do not get enough time to study when they have to spare a lot of time to and fro the school, she argued.
"Children from rich families go to boarding schools which have all facilities. But for children like us, it is very difficult as we have to walk for hours to go to and come back from the school. Even at home, we have to work a lot," said Sunar. "Our school has started a bus service; we all are very happy."
A grandmother, Sharada Gayak, is no less glad about the development. Her two grandchildren are safe now, she believes. "They had to walk even on rainy days when the hilly road would be muddy and slippery. I would feel worried about their safety. The children had to walk even in the scorching heat. But now there is a bus to pick up and drop them off," the elderly lady smiled.
The school has nearly 600 students. According to Principal Shovakar Gautam, 175 students are getting the transportation service. "They pay a minimum amount for the service. It is not possible to operate the bus service without charging the students a little," he said. "But the students as well as the parents are happy. Earlier, many students would remain absent, some others would quit during half time. But now, they are punctual and are at comfort," he added.
Madi Municipality provided aid to the school to buy bus. Two other community schools have also been given aid for the same purpose. There were 45 community schools in the municipality and after merger of 12, now the number is 33. According to Mayor Thakur Dhakal, merger among the schools is still going on. "Depending on the feasibility, we have been merging schools for better quality and resources," he said.