Students at a Janakpur basic school go to school—not to study but to teach

Kathmandu , June 16th 2019

Manisha Mandal is a ninth-grader at Shree Basic School in Basabitthi, Janakpur Submetropolitan-2. A regular at school, she comes to the school early on, takes her stick, visits another classroom and teaches her juniors.

“There are no teachers, neither have we got any textbook to study,” Manisha said. “We have filed complaints with the school administration and parents, but nothing has been done. So instead of wasting my time, I go and teach what I know to my juniors.”

It is only from this academic session that the ninth grade was introduced in this lower secondary school.

But two months on, the students haven’t got to study; the school has not yet made the textbooks available to the newly promoted students. So instead of idling away, students like Manisha utilise their time teaching their juniors.

The students the Post talked to said that the teachers return home after registering their attendance while some while away time gossiping.

Moreover, there has been a delay in the publication of the results of the students who scored poorly at the sub-metropolis level exam for grade eight and had to sit for re-exam.

This is also one of the reasons why the authorities are taking their time to issue new textbooks, Principal Shyam Sundar Mandal said.

“But then, we do not have enough human resources,” Mandal says. “Despite that, the local administration was adamant in adding a new grade. The current fix is the result of that haste.”

Shivaratna Pandey, the chair of Ward 22, admitted that he is also responsible for the delay but said that efforts are on to bring the textbooks and hire teachers.

But according to Mehilal Yadav, education coordinator at the sub-metropolis, blamed sub-metropolitan’s hasty move in giving the permit to open a new class even as there was a case against the school regarding one of its properties.

Only recently, Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut introduced a campaign titled “Beti Padhau, Beti Bachau” (Save girls, Educate girls). The campaign is supposed to reduce the cost of education for female students and provide them with other facilities. But Manisha said she and fellow students have no idea about the campaign, let alone its benefits.

“Most of the boys in the village go to an English medium school of a neighbouring village but our parents do not let us go because they are concerned about our security,” Manisha said.

Most of the pupils at the government schools are either Dalits or impoverished. There is no transparency in the appointment of teachers either, locals say. And according to students, problems such as lack of punctuality and dedication among teachers are rife.

“We are really sad that neither our parents nor the teachers seem to care about it,” Manisha said. “We hope we’ll get textbooks soon and classes run regularly. Until then, we are happy teaching our juniors.”

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