GHANDRUK, KASKI: Fumrokha Baraha Secondary School in Ghandruk of Kaski district, which currently has 246 students and 13 teachers, celebrated its 56th anniversary on Saturday.
The school that started out as a primary school, gradually was able to change its status to lower secondary and secondary school in 2063 BS and 2069 BS respectively. At present, a school building is under construction with the support of the Education Office and foreign donor with an investment of Rs 20 million.
The school was brought into operation with one man’s initiative, who had a dream of educating his village, at a time when education was not prioritised. It was a time when the country had just found democracy post the autocratic Rana regime, during which period common people were not allowed to pursue education. During the regime, children from wealthy families in the village were sometimes sent to Dehradun of India to study, which was not possible for children from low economic background.
Nepal got democracy in 2007 BS when the Rana regime came to an end. Public schools started to come into operation throughout the country, following which children of common people also had the opportunity to pursue education.
However, in rural Ghandruk — which is situated in a difficult geographical area and would take a whole day to reach from Pokhara in lack of motorable road at the time — education was not prioritised. People of the village did not comprehend the significance of sending their children to school.
The most common occupations in the village were agriculture and livestock rearing, and the children of the villagers would also get involved in the same activities from an early age. So, even if there was a school, it would have been hard to find students to impart education to.
Even with the opening of schools all over the country, it could not come in operation in the lower belt of Ghandruk. Upper Ghandruk, however, did witness the establishment of a school. But due to the shortage of teachers, it was unable to function.
The year was 2011 BS. The people in Ghadruk, where Gurung community comprised majority of the population, focused on getting admitted to the security forces, in army or police, following the footsteps of their forefathers. Hence, family members as well as society gave priority to these occupations rather than going to school or college.
During that time, a local of Ghandruk Bakhat Man Gurung, after retiring from Indian Army the same year, came back to his village. After receiving simple education in the army during his tenure there, Gurung became inspired to advance the cause of education in his own village.
Utlilising the education he had received, he started to spread awareness regarding the importance of education. Gurung was born in 1979 BS. He was only 35 when he was retired from the army, after which he made education his purpose in life and took the first step by teaching four to five local children on his own porch.
While serving in the army, Gurung had internalised the gravity of education and the fact that progress of a country and its people depended on education. Keeping this in mind but with no school to help foster his dream of making his village educated, he taught the villagers on his own porch for some years. After the general election of 2015 BS, the focus on education stated to increase in the country, after which Gurung began the preparation to open a primary school in Kinyu of Ghandruk.
Establishing a school for the first time had its own challenges. To seek the approval to open the school, for years he kept going to the education office as well as the zonal office. His efforts bore fruits when in 2019 BS he received permission to open a primary level school upto grade 3. But there was no land on which he could build the school.
No challenge is big enough when one has the drive to materialise a vision. Gurung provided a piece of his own land close to his house to construct the school. The villagers donated their labour, after which a small hut was built to operate the school. 56 years ago, the school started its operation from the small hut.
New teachers came to teach at the school, but not before a few years passed, after which Gurung stopped teaching. This, however, did not stop him from visiting the school everyday to see how the students were being taught.
Bakhat Man Gurung, who was active in education sector all his life and in politics later in his life, passed away in 2064 BS at the age of 85.
The current principal of the school Deepak Chhetri said, they have planned to construct a statue of late Bakhat Man Gurung at the premises of the school, for which they do not have sufficient budget at present, but have requested Gurung’s son for his contribution.
Gokul Man Gurung, son of Bakhat Man Gurung, informed that his father had provided two ropani of land at that time to construct the school, likewise, he too had provided an additional two ropani three years ago to the school. He further stated that soon his father’s statue would be built in the school premises and the land would be transferred to the school itself.
Likewise, another local Ammar Bahadur Gurung has also donated one and a half ropani land to the school to help advance the cause.