It has been 11 years since China promised the teachers and students of Sinjali Secondary School in Gorkha a well-equipped building. But students are still having to attend classes in temporary shelters as construction is yet to start.
Chinese officials signed an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance in 2010/11 stating that a well-equipped building would be constructed for the school in Sahid Lakhan Village Municipality-4. The old school building was ravaged by the 2015 earthquakes.
During the prime ministership of Baburam Bhattarai, a visiting high-level Chinese delegation had agreed to build 10 residential school buildings in the Himalayan district. According to Sinjali secondary school principal Bal Narayn Shrestha, his school was eighth on the list.
“In the meantime, the Chinese have visited the school twice, but to no avail,” says Shrestha.
“All the schools ravaged by the quakes in the district have been rebuilt, but our school is still without a building,” says Shrestha, whose school’s 11-room building was damaged beyond repair.
In the absence of a building, students from grades 1-8 are obliged to attend classes in temporary shelters. Students in grades nine and 10 have been forced to study in the old building marked with a red sticker indicating that the building is unsafe and can collapse any time.
Shrestha says the school faces a lot of problems during inclement weather. While summer heat is unbearable, dew drops from the roof in winter. During the rainy season, the roof leaks and water seeps into the classroom. In addition, sound from one room can be clearly heard in another.
He complains of being tired of frequenting the Chinese embassy, the Department of Education and the Ministry of Finance. He says the school management committee, teachers and parents have repeatedly sought the promised support, but in vain.
Chief of the Education Development and Coordination Unit Khemraj Poudel in the district says that it is unclear if construction would start this year as well. “This is an agreement signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are also confused when construction will start,” he says. “It is a matter of diplomacy I guess.”
Poudel says all other schools in the district, which wanted new buildings, now have them.