Two years after quake: Durbar High School continues classes under tin roof

SUSHIL DARNAL, KATHMANDU, April 18: Believe it or not, most of the quake-stricken schools are still continuing classes in makeshift tents in the capital city two years after the massive earthquake struck Nepal. The Durbar High School (Bhanu Secondary School), which is the first school in the country, is still running classes under tents bearing the marks of a shameful failure on part of the authorities to rebuild the school. According to the Ministry of Education, a total of 500 community schools inside the Kathmandu Valley suffered damages during the massive earthquake. There are a total of 625 community schools in the valley alone. With a total enrollment of 180 students from nursery level to Grade X, the high school located west of the historic Malla-era landmark of Rani Pokhari, is forced to operate classes under temporary shelter. School Principal, Hem Chandra Mahato, said he has repeatedly knocked on the doors of Education Ministry, Education Department, District Education Office and National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) for rebuilding the school's building, but to no avail. "We are running classes under a roof made of corrugated zinc sheets since April 25, 2015 and there are a lot of problems in this; when one class is running it creates disturbances in another class, we face problems in monsoon and in winter," Mahato shared. He added that he was told an agreement had been reached with the Chinese government for rebuilding the school when he made contact with the concerned authority. "The parents are asking us when the school will be built, but the government does not clearly state when it will rebuild it," Principal Mahato said. The school was built well over a hundred years ago in 1948 BS. During the earthquake, it developed severe and gapping cracks and fissures. The classes are being run at the open space in front of the school building, but always under constant risk of the school giving way anytime. According to Nanu Maya Shrestha, a 1oth grader at the school, in winter the fog creeps inside, in summer the heat becomes unbearable under the tin roof and in monsoon it is the rain that disrupts the regular classes. Kabita Karki, also from Grade X, said there is no space to play for the children, and spoke of the problem seen in the latrine facility. Meanwhile, Education Ministry's Spokesperson, Dr Hari Lamsal, attributed the delay in reconstructing the school building to the apparent 'inability to draw funds'.

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