Binod Ghimire, The Kathmandu Post, April 22, 2019
Thousands of children will be studying in makeshift structures for a few more years
Four years after the devastating earthquake, the government is yet to ensure necessary budget, which amounts to billions of rupees, for the reconstruction of school buildings, which could mean thousands of students will have to study in makeshift structures for a few more years.
The Post-disaster Recovery Framework prepared by the National Reconstruction Authority in 2016 had estimated that Rs180 billion would be required for the construction of the quake-destroyed academic institutions and that Rs167 billion would be needed to rebuild schools and classrooms.
The budget was later revised to Rs119 billion, out of which Rs50 billion has been pledged by donors as loan and grant.
Construction works worth Rs23 billion are being carried out by non-government agencies and foreign government agencies. It’s the Nepal government’s responsibility to ensure the additional Rs44 billion required to complete the reconstruction of the school infrastructure.
As of the current fiscal year, the government has allocated Rs17 billion from the national budget.
I'm Narayan Shrestha, director of the Central Level Project Implementation Unit (Education), an entity under the National Reconstruction Authority, said by now there is a funding shortfall of Rs27 billion which is over 22 percent of the total budget required.
“We are expecting the government to release the needed fund from the national budget,” he told during an interaction with the media on Monday.
The implementation unit has requested the Ministry of Finance to allocate Rs11 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, Rs9 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21 and the last tranche of Rs7 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22.
Though the government, while starting the reconstruction project in 2016, had announced to complete the rebuilding of all damaged school buildings by the fiscal year 2019-20, the implementation unit’s plan shows that two more years will be required to erect all the school buildings.
Government records show that over 33,000 classrooms from 7,923 public schools in 32 districts were destroyed in the disaster. As 370 such schools were merged for the lack of enough numbers of students, 7,553 school buildings had to be rebuilt.
Reconstruction of 4,476 schools was over in three years, while 1,772 buildings are under construction.
The government is yet to reach 910 school buildings, which await reconstruction.
“Lack of adequate budget and amiability of proper land are major factors delaying the reconstruction,” Shrestha added. He also said that frequent transfers of staff, lack of skilled workers and inefficiency of construction firms had added to the problem.
Total destroyed 7,923
Required reconstruction 7,553
Total rebuilt 4,476
Under construction 1,772
Selected for reconstruction 398
Schools not reached yet 910
Total required budget Rs 119 billion
Funding gap Rs27 billion