As private and public schools are all set to resume classes on Sunday, the District Education Offices (DEOs) in the Valley are yet to assess the condition of one-third of the quake-hit schools.
After one month of closure, the government has directed all schools in 14 worst-hit districts to resume classes from Sunday setting up makeshift classrooms if their buildings are marked unsafe. However, expert teams have assessed only 1,300 of the total 1,970 public and private schools in the Valley, creating confusion among school authorities about resuming classes.
The technical teams have inspected around 900 among 1,379 private and public schools in Kathmandu while just around 300 schools of the total 454 have been assessed in Lalitpur. Similarly, the technical teams have completed the assessment of some 100 of the 137 schools in Bhaktapur.
Meanwhile, construction of makeshift classrooms is even sluggish. A majority of schools in the Capital have not yet started setting up the alternative classrooms. Out of around 500 Temporary Learning Centres needed in the Valley, only around 100 have been constructed so far. According to Giridhar Mishra, chief of Department of Engineering at Kathmandu DEO, assessment of all schools buildings will take one more week and construction of the learning centres will take even longer. “We hope to complete the assessment and construction works in next ten days,” he said.
Mishra claimed the assessment process was delayed owing to the confusion between the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to carry out the work. The MoUD had decided to evaluate the buildings of private schools earlier, but the responsibility was later transferred to the MoE.
According to Bhaktapur DEO chief Rama Kanta Sharma, all schools will reopen on Sunday and will resume their classes in the open space if makeshift classrooms are not ready. He said the schools have been asked not to start teaching the curriculum immediately. “There will not be regular classes for the first few days,” he said adding, “Full-fledged classes will begin when all alternative arrangements will be ready.” The MoE records show that around 25,000 classrooms of 6,975 public schools have been destroyed by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks. Likewise, the data shows 7,266 classrooms have suffered major cracks and 12,613 have suffered minor damages. In addition, the quake has also destroyed 1,436 toilets. Over three million students from 39 districts have been affected due to the quakes. The Department of Education has released Rs 25,000 per damaged classroom to school for temporary arrangement.