UNICEF calls for ridding schools of violence, fear

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 1:

UNICEF has appealed to all parties involved in the conflict in Nepal to ensure that the schools and classrooms are rid of violence and freed from the reign of terror by the beginning of the next academic year.

“The first day of school is itself a scary day for most children around the world. But, the children of Nepal have good reason to feel fear. Schools, teachers and students have been a key casualty of the last nine years of the conflict,” said Cecilia Lotse, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia in a press release issued here today by UNICEF.

“Let this new school year in Nepal be one where this awful, destructive cycle of violence stops, and children can go to school to learn, to grow, to play in peace,” said Lotse. The academic year starts from April 15.

“The fear and violence that is eating away at the education system in Nepal is eating away at the future of its children,” said Lotse.

The press release further stated that some schools in conflict-affected areas had been turned into barracks, used for political meetings and enforced political-indoctrination sessions, and also bombed and attacked. She also pointed out that, even in districts where schools had remained open, the continuing series of strikes and blockades had eroded the children’s schoolgoing time to less than half the normal academic year.

“Children in primary schools suffer most when there are delays in the teaching. Here children

learn to read, whereas higher up they read to learn.”

“Older children are much better able to pick up where they left off if their education is disrupted. Younger children have to start all over again with this difficult business of learning to read, write and count. Too many disruptions, and it just gets too hard,” said Lotse. “Education is not just a right for all children,” said Lotse. “It is also a crucial foundation stone for the development of each child and each family, and ultimately a foundation stone for the development of the country itself,” said the release. The press release added that Nepal was lagging in education, compared to South Asian neighbours.