DOLPA, May 1: Schools in remote areas of Dolpa have started wearing a deserted look as students prepare to head toward the highlands for picking Yarsagumba, a valuable herb with aphrodisiac properties.
As the highlands will be opened a bit earlier this year, students have already started making preparations for picking Yarsagumba by skipping their classes. They will be heading toward the highlands by mid-May. With more number of students of lower Dolpa going to highlands for collecting Yarsa, classes have almost come to a halt.
Dipak Gurung, principal of Malika Secondary School of Mudkechula Rural Municipality, informed that the number of students has decreased significantly in recent days. According to him, there were high number of students until a week ago but now the classes are almost empty.
Students have significantly dropped in the recent weeks at Tripurakot Secondary School, Maddhu, according to the school authorities. However, the classes are still running, informed Shovakanta Poudel, one of the teachers of the school. He also informed that the teachers are regularly coming to schools despite low number of students.
However, the Yarsa-picking season has not attracted the students of Saraswoti Secondary School (SSS) and Adarsha Secondary School (ASS) at the district headquarters. According to Satyanarayan Singh, principal of SSS, the school is about to conduct its first terminal examination because of which the students are obliged to stay in their school. Similarly, ASS has also scheduled the exam from May 16 because of which students won't be able skip their exams to pick Yarsa.
Every year, a large number of students as well as teachers engage themselves in picking Yarsa from mid-May till mid-June. In fact, this is one of the major sources of income for people here. Some of the students manage their yearly educational expenses by picking Yarsa.
Not just the locals of Dolpa but the people from neighboring districts like Jajarkot, Jumla, Surkhet, Dailekh and Ramechhap have also reached Dolpa for picking Yarsa and many are on the way. A large number of schools in rural Dolpa are forced to shut down for one month due to the absence of teachers and students.