Lalitpur, August 8
Many children of the Danuwar community in Dukuchhap VDC, Lalitpur, bunk school because they cannot understand what is being taught in Nepali.
Principal of Shree Chandi Lower Secondary School Sitaram Khadka said, “Our school has a total of 224 students, most belonging to the Danuwar community. Nepali is not their first language, and many of them have a difficult time understanding the lessons.” Khadka added that children below 10 years, especially run away from school.
The school has tried several tactics to keep children in. It provides free education in lower classes, and even lunch for children in play groups. However, these attempts have not brought any tangible results.
“These children come mostly from illiterate households, and parents don’t understand how important it is for the children to be educated. It is harder for us when the parents don’t do anything about their children bunking school,” said Khadka.
Sanu Kanchi Danuwar, a local, said even the older generations in the ethnic group do not understand Nepali very well. Sanu Kanchi said, “The children cannot do their homework because they don’t understand the language, and they don’t go to school because they are afraid of being punished by teachers. We are not educated, so we cannot teach them either.”
Although the government has provided free education service up to grade V, this has not solved the issue with the Danuwar community. “The Danuwars rely mainly on agricultural labour, and only have jobs during planting seasons. This may be another reason why they don’t send their children to school,” said the principal.
Rajan Danuwar said, “Although the government has provided free education, we cannot afford to buy books and other study materials.” Rajan added that most members of the community are labourers, with an income of Rs 400 a day during planting season; at other times, they usually are out of work.
Rajan added, “The children themselves don’t want to go to school. We keep them at home where they can learn to do household chores.”
Khadka said, “We don’t have teachers who understand the Danuwar language, and despite several programmes held annually to keep the children in school, we have mostly failed.” The school has six teachers for seven classes, and the teachers do not have any breaks.
A version of this article appears in print on August 09, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.