“If community schools try to excel, it can do far better than private ones due to community support.”
MYAGDI, April 24: Bishwa Katuwal of Raghuranga Municipality – 2 of Myagdi district always thought that she would not compromise with her children's education. She would choose the best school in town for them even though it would be expensive. Today, she is happy that her dream has come true. She has found an ideal school for her children but it is not as expensive as she thought.
"I am sending my children to one of the best schools in the country and luckily, I don't have to pay much for this," she said.
Beni Community School is where her children have recently been admitted. They had to go through a tough competition to get enrolled there.
"I am happy that they made it. I feel that that their future is secured now," remarked the mother of two.
Earlier, the children used to go to a private school and the fees were relatively high. And the school's performance was not satisfactory.
"They were of course studying and being promoted just like any other student. But deep inside I was not satisfied with the school's quality," she said, adding, "I always wanted a school with vision and now I have found one," she added.
Most of the community schools in the country are struggling for survival. Due to poor quality, they are fast losing students to private ones. Merging with each other has become the latest practice so that they continue to operate. However, the story of this community school is different.
"Beni Community School stands out among the crowd. Even if my child is given free education in any private school, I would like to choose this school over the private one," said Katuwal.
Beni Community School is popular not just in Beni Bazar. Students even from far away towns and villages consider their luck if they get admission here. According to the school administration, the number of students seeking admission is so high that it has to extend three or four more blocks to incorporate all of them.
"We ask for the bio data of students and parents, check them thoroughly, make them sit in interview and written test and then finalize our list of selected students. The selection is done on the basis of merit," said Deepak Shrestha, the school principal.
Students seeking admission in the school had sat for the entrance test on Monday. According to the administration, there is seat for 165 students from grade one to nine while 231 students took the test.
"Our capacity this time is just 165, but 231 students took the exams. Only the selected students will be enrolled," said Shrestha.
Shrestha informed that almost all the students who sat for the entrance test were from private schools. Not just that, they had attended coaching classes before appearing in the test. "Children from very humble to very rich families come here. They look at our quality and get lured," boasted Shrestha.
The examination hall was packed. But there was a pin-drop silence. Discipline is the main characteristic of the school, according to Shrestha.
The school is very popular in the region since the last five years. To make it inclusive, it has allocated quota for differently abled students as well as those affected by conflict and poor economic background. According to a local of Beni Bazar, Yam KC, one can buy seat in private school with money, but doing so is not possible here.
"We send our children to private schools for the best education. But when you get such quality in government school, there is no reason to seek private ones," said KC. "But here, money does not work. Children have to compete and get selected," he added.
Meanwhile, Narayan Bahadur Karki, president of the school management committee, stated that the school's standard is the result of team work of the teachers and staff.
"Our school is attracting students from several districts. This is a matter of pride," he said. "To ensure good quality, we have taken care of everything, such as modern infrastructure, good pay to the teachers, child-friendly environment etc," he added.
Karki further noted that will power is the key to success. If community schools try to excel, it can do far better than private ones due to community support, he said. The school was awarded the country's best school in 2013 by the Education Ministry. So far, over 150 community schools have visited the school.