Classrooms run in open after earthquake damaged buildings

2014-04-05

Himalayan News Service

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Jitpur (Ilam), Oct 24, Khadananda Adhikari, headmaster of Jitpur Higher Secondary School, Nawami, has been in a dilemma after the powerful quake of September 18 badly damaged the key one-storey building of the school.The building had ten classrooms—five in each floor, and when the quake caused several tears in its wall, he removed all furniture and blackboard from all classrooms fearing that the building might collapse soon.

But even month after the earthquake, he had no idea where should he run the classes."After Dashain we have been running the classes in the open as it has not rained here," Adhikari said.He is still unable to decide whether he should run the classes in the cracked building after Tihar holidays as running classes in the open is impossible in the cool winter days in the school located at the top of a hillock.

The school lies in Jitpur VDC in the western part of the district."I am unable to decide where and how should we run the classes. There is no way at the moment rather than running the classes in the cracked building," he said. Chairman of the school management committee Govinda Giri was equally worried about the problem."How will the guardians let us keep their wards inside this building?" asked Giri pointing at the scattered bricks and stones which had fallen from the wall and the wide tears on the wall.

The balcony of another building where the classes of primary level were running had also fallen.According to Adhikari, some 1100 students are studying in the school level and 200 in the 10+2 level. "Now accommodating them has become a big problem until we construct a new building," said Giri. The school which was promoted as a secondary level school from a lower secondary level in 1978 in the efforts of the local people lacked resources to construct a new building.

"We are not in position to construct a new building on our own as we are now constructing a few classrooms to run 10+2 classes," Giri said pointing at an under-construction building in the school premises.Both Giri and Adhikari were planning to visit Kathmandu for the needed fund for the immediate construction of the new building after Tihar.

As the school falls in the Constituency 2 of the district from where Constituent Assembly chairman Subas Nembang was elected in the 2008 elections, they had expected that Nembang and other leaders in Kathmandu would help them find the fund.

Currently, new buildings for two key schools of the district—Karphok Higher Secondary School of Panchakanya and Adarsha Higher Secondary School of Ilam Bazaar— are being constructed in the assistance of the Indian Government under Nepal-India Cooperation. Adhikari said that he had expected similar hope from the Indian Embassy once he approached it.

Adhikari and Giri said that they would also approach the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu after Tihar with a request for help."We and the locals will be grateful to the Indian Embassy if it helps us in constructing a building as it is now building for Karphok," Adhikari said referring to the posh building that the Embassy is building for the Karphok Higher Secondary School in Panchakanya.

According to Adhikari, the school building that collapsed this time had survived the 1988 earthquake in which many of the school buildings in the surrounding villages were totally damaged. Then Lutheran World Service had assisted to construct the new buildings of the schools. According to District Education Officer of Ilam Mahendra Poudel, a total of 198 schools in the district were affected in the September 18 earthquake.

He said the DEO provided a tent and Rs. 10,000 for each 15 schools whose buildings were totally damaged. "The Red Cross Society provided the tent and the district office of the natural calamities rescue committee the money," he said.

However, Jitpur Higher Secondary School was not among the recipients of the help. "We do not know why DEO did not provide us the help?" Adhikari said. "When we wanted to inquire him about it, he was not available in the district."

Poudel said that the DEO was planning to address the damages caused to schools by the quake from the fund it received to construct 84 classrooms and 111 toilets in the budget of the current fiscal year. "We are also planning to distribute Rs. 5.8 million that we received for the maintenance of school," he said.

(Source: The Rising Nepal)