Home Education Post-Quake Reconstruction: Education of thousands of students in jeopardy

Post-Quake Reconstruction: Education of thousands of students in jeopardy

MoE at wit’s end as govt scrambles to generate fund to rebuild schools

Kathmandu, February 17, 2017: Even almost two years after the devastating earthquake, the government is struggling to generate resources to rebuild schools, which could deprive hundreds of thousands of children of education.

As many as 33,000 classrooms of nearly 8,000 schools were destroyed in the 2015 quake. So far, reconstruction of 1,049 schools has been completed, and the government has been able to generate resources just enough to rebuild another 2,807 schools.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has no clue how the remaining schools—4,067 (51. 5 percent of the total destroyed)—will be reconstructed.

The Post Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) prepared by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) in May last year had assessed that Rs 180 billion would require for the construction of quake-destroyed academic institutions and that Rs 167 billion would require for rebuilding schools and classrooms.

However, records at Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) at the Department of Education (DoE), which works in close coordination with the NRA, show around Rs 51 billion so far has been either allocated or in the process of being allocated for the reconstruction of schools, meaning government will need an additional Rs 116 billion (69 percent of the total need) to make all the classrooms functional.

Im Narayan Shrestha, chief of the CLPIU, said lack of budget is a major challenge.
In the last 22 months, the DoE has signed agreements with around 160 NGOs for the construction of 1,200 schools.

But only 312 schools either have been constructed or are being constructed, which shows efforts being made by the non-governmental organisations too have been sluggish. Though the Post Disaster Recovery Framework  had envisioned completing reconstruction of all the schools in three years, given the slow pace and lack of resources, it is highly unlikely that the government would be able to meet the target.

“We are sure to miss the deadline if the work continues in the current pace,” said Hari Lamsal, spokesperson for the MoE at a programme organised by Education Journalists Group Nepal in the Capital on Thursday. This will mean children from 31 earthquake-affected districts, mainly 14 districts worst affected by the disaster, will have to study under makeshift classrooms without furniture at least for a few more years.

Shrestha of the CLPIU said coordination with the different government agencies and complicated process to get approval for reconstruction are other challenges. “We also lack skilled and technical human resources.”

In numbers

  • –     7,923: Schools affected
  • –     33,000: Classrooms destroyed
  • –     1,049: Schools reconstructed so far   
  • –     2,807: Schools for which budget has been pledged 
  • –     51: Billion rupees so far pledged for rebuilding schools
  • –     167: Billion rupees required to rebuild the destroyed schools
  • –     3: Years the PDRD had envisioned in May to complete reconstruction

By Binod Ghimire