The Kathmandu Post
ACHHAM : Kokila BK, 12, of Mangalsen Municipality-7, has been living at her sister’s home for the past five years.
Her sister brought Kokila to her home after their mother married another man following the death of their father.
The government’s enrolment campaign has been largely ineffective in bringing children to school in the remote parts of the country.Post Photo: MENUKA DHUNGANA
She wakes up early in the morning and goes to the market to sell milk. She also has to look after the cattle and collect firewood for the family. “I also want to go to school like my friends. But I have to work in other people’s home to meet my needs. I cannot study even if I want to,” she said.
Her friends ask her to join them at school but Kokila doesn’t know what needs to be done to get enrolled in a school. “I want to study and become a doctor. But no one has asked me to go to school formally,” she said.
Dilu Nath of Jaidhan in the municipality has three children—two daughters and a son. Her son goes to school but her daughters stay home. “It’s been long since my husband passed away. I send my son to school since it’s said that educated sons bring honour to the family. Daughters can stay home and help me,” Nath said.
Bhage Jaigadi’s two daughters also share the same fate. As most parents in the community go to India for work, daughters are busy helping run the household.
“The majority of children from the Dalit community don’t go to school. We need them to stay home and help out,” Jaigadi said, “I never asked my daughters to go to school.”
The government’s enrolment campaign has been largely ineffective in bringing these kids to school in the remote parts of the country like Jaidhan.
There are around 60 children of school-going age in Jaidhan community alone who don’t go to school.
The political leaders and representatives have vowed to take stern actions such as cutting the parents off from accessing government services if they don’t send their wards to school.
But the parents believe the authorities never took stock of the situation before making such declaration. “There are no schools here. The nearest school is two hours away in Suwakhand and Rakta. We can’t send our young children on a two-hour journey and back every day.
Once they grow up and become capable of taking care of themselves, it’s too late, they don’t want to go to school,” said Jaigadi.
As per the National Census 2068, 12.1 percent of Achham population, mostly people from 15 to 24 age group, either go to India or other foreign countries for work.
In 2062 BS, 30,873 students were admitted in Class 1 in the month of Baisakh but 10 years later in 2072 BS, only 4,000 appeared in the annual Secondary Education Examination (SEE) while others dropped out of school.
According to last year’s data from the District Development and Coordination Unit, 22.13 percent of the students repeated their classes while 19.7 percent dropped out of school. Only 58.29 percent of the students joined higher classes.
Another data showed that of the students who join school in the primary level, only 36.53 percent reach the lower secondary level.
Forty-five percent of these students drop out from lower secondary level and only 55 percent reach the secondary level education.
Stakeholders said many here don’t think it is important to send a girl child to school. Students also skip classes due to household works and poor quality of education which leads many students to fail classes.