The Himalayan Times, Rastriya Samachar Samiiti, 19th April 2017, Kathmandu
Two years after the devastating 2015 earthquakes, the country is still struggling to recuperate from the wounds the quakes inflicted. Most schools that were damaged by the quakes still run classes under makeshift tents, and the Durbar High School, the first school of the country, is one of them.
According to data at the Ministry of Education, of the 625 community schools in the Valley, 500 schools had suffered damage during the earthquakes.
The Durbar High School was built over a hundred years ago in 1948 BS. During the earthquake, the school building developed gaping cracks and fissures, making it dangerous to run classes in them. Classes are being run in the open space in front of the school building under constant risk of the school giving way any time.
The school has a total of 180 students from pre-primary level to Grade X. Located west of the historic Malla-era landmark Rani Pokhari, the school has been running classes in temporary shelters for the last two years.
School Principal Hem Chandra Mahato said he had repeatedly requested the education ministry, Department of Education, District Education Office, and National Reconstruction Authority to help rebuild the school, but his requests have fallen on deaf ears.
“We are running classes in temporary shelters with corrugated zinc sheets and very thin walls. It is difficult to run classes in adjacent shelters, and during the monsoon the sound of the rain on the zinc sheets drowns any class. In winter, the rooms are unbearably cold, and in summer it is too hot,” he said.
Mahato added he was told that an agreement had been reached with the Chinese government to rebuild the school when he contacted the concerned authorities. “We have no concrete answer when guardians ask when the school would be reconstructed,” Mahato said.
Kabita Karki, a tenth grader at the school, said the school had no proper latrine facilities, and there was no space for children to play.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson for the Education Ministry Hari Lamsal attributed the delay in reconstructing the school building to ‘inability to draw funds’.