Jhapa, May 31, 2016:Â The new budget is talk of the town in the capital nowadays. But in rural villages of Jhapa only a few know about it and care to talk about it. They feel that their miseries which none of the previous budget allocations addressed are still going to remain the same.
“Budget? No idea. Well, it comes every year. But we don’t have schools around. We can’t afford bicycles for children so that they can join schools that are far from here,” said Abdul Miya of Pathamari – 3, whose village shares border with India. “Those who are in power do not understand such things. Only a poor can understand the miseries of a poor,” he added.
As Miya said, the area does not have a secondary school around. After the children complete primary level of schooling, they are forced to sit idle at home. Very few have bicycles on which they dare to cycle very long distance to study. According to Miya, even though Muslims are dominant in the village, interest for modern education has been growing remarkably here. Every parent wants their kids to acquire mainstream education instead of limiting them to Muslim schools. However, lack of school nearby has taken toll on such aspirations of the parents.
“For campus, IA, BA, it’s still okay if our children have to go out of village. But even for school level education, they have to go a long way from home and starve? It’s very sad. We would appreciate if the government could establish a secondary school in our area,” he said.
However, condition of Miya’s village contradicts with the Jhapa’s reputation. Jhapa has been regarded as the most ‘prosperous’, ‘educated’, and ‘developed’ place. On Monday, government officials and other stakeholders officially announced that Jhapa is ahead of all in terms of literacy. The district education office claimed that Jhapa’s literacy excellence is unrivaled among other districts. However, in making this declaration, they surely omitted the plight of the likes of Miya’s village.
Several villages in Jhapa lack secondary school for children. For acquiring secondary level education, the children sometimes have to walk over 12 kilometers. To and fro, double the distance, which eventually forces many to abandon their education goals.
Pathamari and Kumarkhod are other two of such villages that lack secondary schools around. It has been years since the government announced to open secondary school in every VDC. However, as the words have not been translated in action in the rural parts of Jhapa, students’ education is badly affected.
According to a local Rastriya Prajatantra Party Anjar Alam, debate and discussion over the issue have been carried out several times. During the discussions the District Education Office (DEO) had also stressed on the need to open schools in those VDCs. However, things have not changed so far. “Those most hit are children of Muslim families. For instance, 60 percent of population in Pathmari is Muslim and there’s no secondary school nearby,” Miya said.
In Pathmari, Rajbanshi and Gangai communities live, too. According to the VDC secretary Baburam Pokhrel, only around 50 percent of the population in these VDCs are literate. “Since I started working as the VDC secretary here two years back, I have worked hard with the locals to establish a secondary school in the area. But so far we have been not able to fulfill our objective. We have held discussion with the DEO several times but these discussions too have yield result,” he reported.
He added that not having single secondary school in entire VDC is very pathetic. The government mechanism has flopped miserably here. “It’s really shocking and sad that every effort we are making for something so essential like a secondary school has failed to materialize. Political parties show no interest, the government shows no interest. Nobody seems to care about it,” he stated. “On the other hand, concerned authorities never stop from holding meetings and discussions. They organize meetings and organize elaborate discussions, but never implement the proceedings of these meetings into action,” he added.
According to Reena Kumari, students do not like to travel very long distance every day and lack of school nearby simply brings their education to an end. “We have to walk to either Baniyani or Prithivinagar for secondary and higher secondary classes. This is very difficult for all to do. So dozens of children in our village give up studies and remain at home. Not everyone likes to take so much pain,” she said adding that parents are not much willing to send their wards to distant schools.
The story of Kumarkhod is no different. Though the area has schools that offer education till class eight, lack of schools that could offer higher education have been depriving them of secondary education. According to assistant District Education Office, Uddhav Bista, all the students of Kumarkhod go to Taghandubba for higher secondary level. As students from two VDCs are learning at same place this school has been facing shortage of spacious classrooms.
Bista explained that opening new schools is not realistic unless the schools are likely to have some source of income. If there’s not enough resources, schools may not run well. “Geographical complexities and lack of resources are important reasons for the areas to not have secondary schools,” he said adding that the government quota for teachers is fewer than needed. “If there are new secondary level schools we will in greater shortage of resources to run schools in the district,” he added.