KATHMANDU: Engineers who are inspecting school buildings destroyed or damaged by the quakes in April and May in the Kathmandu Valley have pointed at the need of merging some schools instead of constructing new buildings for them.
A high-level team of engineers from the Department of Education, District Education Office, Kathmandu, and National Society for Earthquake Technology has been reinspecting the schools which were destroyed or damaged by the quakes and assessing whether some buildings need to be demolished.
Giridhar Mishra, an engineer from DEO, Kathmandu, said that buildings of many schools in core city areas of Kathmandu were damaged by the quakes. “It would not be wise to retrofit or carry out maintenance work in such decade-old buildings, which means the schools need new buildings. But constructing new buildings for some schools is neither necessary nor affordable,” he said. “In such case, it would be better to merge two to three schools by identifying student enrollment rate and teacher-student ratio.” DEO, Kathmandu, also holding talks with Kathmandu Metropolitan City to provide some open space for some schools which are located in congested areas, he added.
According to a new draft prepared for the construction of school buildings, a primary school in some parts of the country needs 5 to 12 ropanis of land and its buildings should not be more than two storeys.
As per the draft, school buildings in Kathmandu, however, can be of three storeys, he said.
Sankata Primary School in Sankata, Aazad Primary School in Lagano, Arunodaya Secondary School in Dhokatol and Naba Adarsha Secondary School and Himalayan Secondary School in Basantapur are some of the schools which have been considered for merger, as they have around 15-20 students and six-seven teachers.
Currently, these schools are managing classes in some other schools buildings. “This is the right time to merge the schools,” said Mishra, adding, “Even the locals and the leaders of the community are also positive about this idea.” According to Mishra, there are currently 20 schools which need to be merged. According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment made public by the National Planning Commission, medium term needs will be focused on reconstruction and retrofitting of school/colleges buildings and allied structures to build back better.
According to PDNA, there is possibility of merger and consolidation of many scattered and poorly endowed schools into a smaller number of larger and better schools as envisioned in the School Sector Reform Plan. Mishra said that schools should be merged through a policy level decision, and that DEO, Kathmandu, was waiting for some decision from policy makers.
According to DoE, a total of 187 schools, out of 299 community schools in Kathmandu district, were affected by quakes while more than 1,700 classrooms were damaged.