Pic.Â Diprendra BK, Samundra BK, Surya Prakash Nepali, and Prakash BK, students at the Siddha Primary School in Gartigaun – 7 pose for a group photo. The four resumed their studies since this session after being forced out of school for various reasons.
Rolpa, May 12, 2016:Â When he was nine, he was forced to quit school and accompany his mother to the brick kiln in Kathmandu. But Samundra Bishwokarma of Ghartigaun, Rolpa was not taken to the brick kiln to work. He was free to play and have fun. His sole duty was to babysit his younger brother so that his mother could concentrate on her duty.
“I was studying in second grade at my village school when my mother took me to the capital. I used to take care of my younger brother while she worked at the factory whole day,” he said. “But I was not happy with that. I wanted to go to school.”
Samundra would press his parents for sending him to school, though they were not much interested in that. Giving into his consistent insistence and pressure from villagers back home, his wish came true. He was returned back home from Kathmandu and once again he has started his education at the Siddha Primary School in Gartigaun – 7. He’s happy that he has been given admission in 4th grade.
“My parents never wanted to send me to school. They just wanted me to help them in earning for the family. However, I am glad they accepted counsel of the elders and sent me back,” he said.
Though his wish has been fulfilled for now, he fears that they might change their mind someday. “I really feel nervous at the thought that my parents may again try to take me to the brick kiln to assist them. I don’t want to go there ever. I want to study,” he said.
Ghartigaun is not the only village in Rolpa where children’s education is not given importance to. Adjoining village, Talabang has also similar situation. Dipendra Ghartimagar of Talabang – 4 had also left school while he was studying in second grade. His case is little bit different though. After his father left for Qatar and his mother subsequently eloped with someone else, he was forced to stop attending school.
Upon returning home, his father did not show any interest in educating the boy. “Sometimes I feel real sad that my father never asked me to resume my studies. Actually I don’t think our elders care about their children’s studies,” Dipendra said stating that he was able to resume his studies after he started living with his grandmother in Ghartigaun-6.
“I am studying in third grade. And though I am happy I don’t know if I will be able to continue my studies,” he said stating that his grandmother might not be able to support his education in the future.
Another child in Rolpa to quit school in early age is Prakash BK. He also left school while studying in second grade. “My mother wanted me to do household chores rather than going to school,” he said. He had lost his father to cancer seven years ago. Life turned miserable since then, which has kept him out of school since.
These are representative cases. Many children in Rolpa stop going to school at a very early age due to various reasons. One of the main and common reasons behind it is lack of awareness among parents about the importance of education for their children’s future.
According to Save the Children and Human Rights Awareness Center, 35 children in Ghartigaun who were deprived of education due to parents’ negligence rejoined school this session. These organizations state that the situation of girl child is even poorer. Thirty five small girl children in the village were also resent school this time due to their initiatives, the organizations claimed. The organizations stated that the children were provided with stationeries and other materials so that parents would be convinced much more easily.
However, some locals are skeptic about the sustainability of such interventions. “Until and unless parents themselves realize the importance of education and more importantly are in position to meet their basic needs, things might not improve,” Shiva Ghartimagar, principal of Krishna Secondary School said.
“Providing bags and dresses to attract children to school cannot make real impact. Such kids will drop out of school very soon,” he said. “Parents have to realize that their children must go to school for securing a better future,” he added.
Shiva said that children of poor families, basically Dalits, are the ones who quit school most often. He claims that is because of poverty and lack of awareness among parents.
Section Officer at District Education Office Krishna Chandra Pokhrel opined that parents involved in menial labor, like working at the brick kilns, mostly lack awareness about the importance of educating their children. “They feel that their kids could earn by working like them rather than going to school,” he said.