RAMECHHAP, July 14
Despite a series of government directives not to conduct classes in structures with red stickers after the tremor of April 25 and its aftershocks, dozens of schools have been running classes in buildings that are on the verge of collapse in Ramechhap.
School operators in the district have been blatantly violating the government directive regarding students’ safety. However, they argued that they had no option but to resume classes inside risky structures as the government did nothing significant to manage alternative classrooms. The community also did not contribute to this end.
“It is out of compulsion that we had to resume classes in the dilapidated buildings due to lack of better option,” argued Jhanahari Dahal, head teacher of Him Ganga H S School, Sanghutar. “Almost all the walls of three three-storey buildings have cracked. The engineers marked two buildings as unsafe with red sticker and another building has been granted green sticker. But the single building can’t house all the students,” said Dahal.
Similar is the story of Siddheshwor Secondary School in Manthali municipality. The school has conducted classes for all the students inside buildings with red stickers.
Of the three building, two were ravaged and one has developed cracks. “Though the building is not safe, we have been running classes due to space crunch,” lamented head teacher Som Prasad Bhattarai.
A building of Bhairabi Secondary School was given red sticker. Though the students are not kept inside the building, administrative work is done inside the building. “If the vulnerable structure collapses students might be safe, but what about teachers and staff?” asked Radha Karki, a local. According to Head teacher Ram Prasad Acharya, they are preparing to shift the structures within a few days.
According to sources, of the 458 schools in the district, around 300 have been provided red stickers. The government provided Rs 25,000 for building each alternative classroom using local resources for schools with unsafe buildings. Though some of the schools have constructed classrooms with government funding, a few others have misused the fund.
Jalpagutheshwori Primary School located at Sanghutar received Rs 75,000 from District Education Office and Rs 53,000 from the VDC. As per the provision, it had to build 5 rooms but it has built just two rooms and has been running classes inside the building with red sticker.
However, District Education Office has directed the schools not to run classes inside unsafe buildings. “I have assured that necessary zinc sheets will be provided for school operators. If any school is found violating the directive, stern action will be taken against them,” said District Education Officer Khubi Ram Adhikari.
A version of this article appears in print on July 15, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.