Classes at quake-damaged schools still under tents

Published On: January 3, 2018 08:54 AM NPT By: Narhari Sapkota

GORKHA, Jan 3: Since the arrival of winter, the students of Pataledevi Adharbhut School are attending their classes outside their classrooms to escape the unbearable cold.

However, this is not the first winter these students have been compelled to study on open grounds. Thirty-two months ago, their school building was reduced to rubble by the deadly earthquake of 2015. After months of halt, the reconstruction of school has just kicked off.

There are rods, stones, bricks and cement scattered all over the school area. The warmth of the sun has been the only medium for both students and teachers to protect themselves from the frosting cold.

Since the major jolt of 2015, the school has been conducting classes in the six dilapidated rooms of the school office. "The rooms are extremely cold and we can't afford to risk the health of our students. That is why we are conducting their classes outside under the sun," said Sitababu Regmi, principal of the school. However, locals and parents of the students lament that their children's health has been deteriorating more outside.

There is a road attached to the school where heavy trucks carrying cement and construction materials keep moving in and out of the school. "The sound of the trucks is disturbing the classes and the dust is taking a toll on their health," said Bhumi Regmi, a local.

However, this school is a representative of more than 80 schools of the district which have not been able to run their classes due to the lack of school buildings. Earthquake had destroyed more than 400 school buildings. Of them, only 129 are under construction. As per the details provided by the District Education Office, as many as 250 of the total damaged schools have already been reconstructed with the help of various organizations. "If these schools too had waited for the government relief, they would not have stood up by now," said District Education Officer Dipendra Subedi.

Most of the under-construction buildings are based in the rural parts. Difficult terrain and no access to roads and construction materials are also the reasons behind the delayed reconstruction. As the reconstruction has finally picked up pace for the past few months, it is expected that a wide number of students in the rural parts won't have to attend classes in tents, temporary buildings or open grounds next winter. "We now need a budget of one billion rupees to rebuild the remaining schools," said Subedi.

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