Kathmandu, September 29
At a time when schools in various districts in the Tarai remain closed for more than 40 days due to the ongoing protests by Madhesh-based parties, schools in the Kathmandu Valley are also on verge of closure due to crisis of petroleum products.
Many private and boarding schools in the Valley are running short of petroleum products and cooking gas since the past few days. As a result they have been facing difficulties transporting day-scholars between school and home, and feeding boarders. If the situation persists, the schools say they will be forced to pull down their shutters soon.
Mukunda Sharma, principal, Hattiban-based Little Angels’ School, said more than 90 per cent of its students use school bus and if the fuel crisis persists they will soon have to close their school. “Closure of schools due to petroleum crisis will send a wrong message. So the government should make special arrangements for schools.”
Little Angels’ School alone has around 125 school buses for more than 6,000 students from pre-primary to diploma level. There are hundreds of such schools with tens of thousands of students in the Valley. If these schools are not provided petroleum products they will have to halt academic activities.
“The schools had remained closed for more than a month early this academic season after the April 25 earthquake and now we don’t want to close our schools due to crisis of petroleum products,” he said, adding, “Schools should run despite difficulties and we want the government to support us.”
Karna Bahadur Shahi, president, National Private and Boarding Schools Association Nepal, said, “It has become difficult for us to continue classes due to the fuel crisis.”
Shahi, who is also the founder principal of Chabahil-based Texas International School, said, “We stopped making tea in our school canteen from today due to shortage of cooking gas. We are using cooking gas only if it is unavoidable.” He said they have already urged the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Ministry of Education to resolve the petroleum crisis facing schools, but to no avail.
“Declaring schools as zones of peace alone is not enough. The government should create an environment for ensuring students their right to education even in difficult times,” he added, “The government does not seem to be taking this issue seriously.”
The government had earlier announced to provide 20 liters of petrol each to school vehicles.
Spokesperson for the MoE Dr Hari Lamsal today assured that the ministry will take an initiative to ease supply of petroleum products to academic institutions. “We are going to request the home ministry to ease the supply of petroleum products to schools so that academic activities are not affected.”
A version of this article appears in print on September 30, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.