Creaky primary school caters to secondary level students

Purankot, May 27:

One would find it hard to say whether it’s a school or a pigsty. The walls quake like jelly, doors and windows are missing and dust rules the roost in each of the eight dismal rooms. When classes commence, older students fearfully edge their way inside while tiny tots prudently play on the ground outside. Welcome to the 56-year-old Sewa Sadan Secondary School at Ward No 6 of Purankot VDC in Lamjung.

For the last several years, students from Grade I to III have been attending classes alfresco. There are no desks, benches or blackboards. When it rains or hails, they are graciously given leave for the day.

School headmaster Suryakant Khanal said disaster struck after a proposal was mooted to convert the primary school to a secondary one. Four permanent, two temporary and seven teachers paid from private sources. The school has 300 students.

School management committee chairman Lalbir Gurung rued that while the building was in a shambles, the school also lacked facilities like drinking water, furniture, science laboratory, sports equipment and toilet facilities. He added that students depend on a stream behind the school to quench their thirst.

There is also no boundary wall around the school and when cattle or bovines invade the premises, students and teachers have to chase them away. The school was meant to cater to primary level students but it is creaking under the rigours of accommodating secondary-level students.

Earlier, secondary level students used to go to Sarvodaya Higher Secondary School or the Annapurna Secondary School in Naal, some two hours’ walk from the village.

Guardians later took the decision that they be accommodated in Sewa Sadan Lower Secondary School until such time as it could be upgraded to a higher secondary school.

Villagers have been cutting grass and selling it to meet the salary of the seven private source teachers. The VDC has been operating on a shoestring budget of Rs 3 lakh just to keep the school afloat. But, as that is also falling short, guardians are garnering money through donations and staging cultural fests to foot the school’s bills. Former army men, non-resident Nepalis and education lovers are also contributing.