Bhawani Adhikari

Syangja, March 1:

Four years ago Jhapat Bahadur Bishwokarma thought he should get a proper formal education. So, he got himself admitted to the fourth grade at the Sarbodaya Secondary School in Aruchaur.

Today, the 70-year-old father of three sons and two daughters, is a proud eighth grader.

And he has urged his neighbours to send their kids to school, too, says Aruchaur VDC chairman, Badri Prasad Poudel. “Everyone in the village started sending their children to school after I told them that I had dared to start my studies at such an old age,” Bishwokarma, a resident of Panchamul VDC-2, said.

He is determined to pass SLC, but said, “My goal is not to become a big man, rather to spread awareness among villagers that one should study. Dalits lag behind because they did not continue their studies.”

Bishwokarma is a motivator as it is because of him the number of children attending schools in Darrau, Rapakot, Panchamul, Ghante Deurali, Karkineta, Arjunchaupari and other VDCs, have considerably increased.

Headmaster of Tri Shahid Secondary School is much impressed with the old man’s grit. But who is not impressed is Jhapat Bahadur’s wife Nanda Kali.

According to her, “It is time for him to take rest and look after the house. Instead he goes to school, and that I can not understand. Because he will never occupy any high ranking post no matter how much he studies.”

But Jhapat Bahadur said he was tried of ploughing the land for Gurungs, tired of being a construction worker and a carpentar. He wanted to be something more.

And he has become something more. He is the oldest student in his class today.