Future of over a million Nepali children at risk, says UNICEF

When children are out of school for an extended period, there is a risk that they may drop out of school altogether

Kathmandu, October 29

UNICEF Nepal has expressed serious concern about the future of millions of children in Nepal due to the current unrest in the Tarai.

“Children, particularly in the southern Tarai plains and the mountain districts in central and central-eastern parts of the country that were hardest hit by the earthquakes earlier this year, have been highly affected by the current situation,” a press statement issued today by Tomoo Hozumi, representative to UNICEF Nepal, read.

“One of the most apparent impacts has been on children’s access to education. Across the country, in the last six months following the earthquakes, schools have remained open for about half the number of days they were meant to be open.

In the nine districts in the central and eastern plains alone, closure of schools over the last two months has affected the education of more than 1.6 million school children. In the past six months, schools in Parsa district remained open only for five days instead of the stipulated 122 days,” it added.

According to the statement, schools that were closed for five weeks in the aftermath of the earthquake in the affected districts have been trying to make up for the lost academic days by opening during holidays. However, many of them have also been affected due to the current situation.

Global experiences have shown that when children are out of school for an extended period of time, there is a risk that they may never come back and drop out of school altogether.

“In order to make up for lost teaching and learning hours, many schools in the Tarai are resorting to running classes covertly. Children are going to school in the early morning hours without wearing school uniforms so as not to be identified as students.

It is extremely sad that children have no other way than studying ‘undercover.’ Regardless of situations, reasons and backgrounds, all children have distinctive rights of their own as individual human beings that adults cannot and must not violate as the same human beings.

The right to education is one of the most important of all. The fact that children are going to schools without wearing uniforms in the current situation also pushes them into further jeopardy of being caught up in disturbances,” said Hozumi.

UNICEF has appealed to all to seriously regard children as Zones of Peace who must be free from the impact of political tension, unrest and conflict as it has been agreed in Nepal many times earlier since 2003.