The Kathmandu Post
SUDURPASCHIM BUREAU, DHANGADHI , Apr 18, 2019 : The nationwide school enrollment campaign, which formally began on Monday with an objective to provide school education to all children of school-going age, has so far been ineffective as most schools are concentrating on enrolling regular students rather than focusing on bringing out-of-school children into school system.
Community schools across the country have been found to have undertaken the enrollment drive just for the sake of it, without specific plan or strategy.
“So far, only old students who were already in school have been registering their names. Students from neighboring schools are also visiting our school seeking enrollment. We haven’t been able to enroll the children of the poor, the landless, the freed Kamaiyas (bonded laborers) and the Haliyas (indentured farmers),” said Tapendra Bhatta, principal of Baijanath Secondary School in Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur.
According to him, they organize various program to enroll out-of-school children every year, but have been unable to retain them in school throughout the academic year.
As per the data collected by a community study centre in Kanchanpur, 620 children are still out of school in the district. The figure could be much more since a scientific survey to determine the exact number has not been conducted yet.
Last year, the Department of Education had sent its enrollment plan to all local units in Kanchanpur for its implementation. Authorities concerned, however, claimed that the local bodies did not implement the plan effectively.
Rajendra Bhatta, an officer at the District Education Coordination Unit, said that the local units did not report to the office regarding their efforts to enroll out-of-school children.
“Only Mahakali Municipality reported to us, saying that there aren’t any out-of-school children there,” said Rajendra. “We enroll
students at the start of the campaign, but it’s difficult to keep them in school for the rest of the year. Most drop out in the middle of the academic session.”
The campaign threatens to fall flat on its face in Kailali district as well. The provincial government carried out the enrollment campaign with much fanfare last year. Chief Minister of Sudurpaschim Province initiated the drive by enrolling his daughter to a community school in Dhangadhi.
However, a huge number of children in Kailali are still out of school.
“Around four percent of the total children in the district are out of school in Kailali for various reasons,” said Bishnu Dutta Bhatta, chief of the District Education Coordination Unit.
The provincial government delegated authorities to the local units to bring all out-of-school children into school system. However, the people’s representatives-mainly the chiefs and deputy chiefs-have been accused of not taking concrete initiatives to effectively implement the objectives of the enrollment campaign.
The provincial government has allocated 6.60 percent of its budget in the education sector while provincial Ministry of Social Development has also directed 42 percent of its total budget towards improving the education sector.
“There are challenges to enroll the children of the poor and marginalized families to schools. If we are persistent, the parents enroll their children, but most of the children will stop attending school in the middle of the academic session. We are now planning to have the exact dropout rate in schools here,” said Jhankar Bahadur Bista, under Secretary at the ministry.
Enrollment drive encouraging in Dadeldhura The school enrollment drive seems to have taken some effect in Dadeldhura district, contrary to other parts of the country. The local units claim that elected people’s representatives have been working enthusiastically to make the campaign a success.
“We have initiated the enrollment campaign in a different way this year. The people’s representatives, teachers, school management committee members are now doing door-to-door campaigning. We have been working towards identifying the children who are out of school, determining the reasons behind it and bringing these children into school system by addressing the hurdles,” said Kaushila Bhatta, chief of Bageshwor Rural Municipality.