Students’ Voice: How has inflation impacted students in Kathmandu?
The economic downturn and inflation have impacted individuals from various walks of life, particularly students from outside the Kathmandu Valley pursuing higher education here. Pratik Ghimire from ApEx spoke with these working students to understand the challenges they face due to inflation
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts that Nepal’s economy is set to achieve a growth rate of 4.3 percent in fiscal year 2024, signifying a significant improvement compared to the previous fiscal year when the country’s economic growth rate was limited to only 1.9 percent. In a similar vein, the ADB report forecasts a decrease in the annual average inflation to 6.2 percent in 2024 from 7.7 percent in 2023.
While a reduction in inflation would be beneficial, at present, it is close to eight percent. The economic downturn and inflation have impacted individuals from various walks of life, particularly students from outside the Kathmandu Valley pursuing higher education here. Pratik Ghimire from ApEx spoke with these working students to understand the challenges they face due to inflation.
Sushila Tamang, Nuwakot
As a working student in Kathmandu, I face the challenge of an increasing cost of living. My landlord has recently expressed the intention to raise the room rent, which adds to my financial burden. I’ve communicated with my landlord, urging them to consider the impact of inflation on my already tight budget. The rise in prices of groceries and various necessities has made it increasingly difficult for me to make ends meet.
While I empathize with my landlord’s situation and acknowledge the economic crisis affecting many, I believe there must be alternative solutions besides raising the rent. It’s essential for both parties to find a balance that ensures fair treatment and sustenance. I hope my landlord and others facing similar circumstances can explore options that don’t further strain the already challenged finances of individuals like myself. In addition, I call upon the government to address this issue promptly, as it affects numerous working students and individuals trying to navigate the financial complexities of living in Kathmandu. Finding a resolution will contribute to a more sustainable and equitable living situation for all.
Yuvraj Chaudhary, Dhanusha
Recession serves as a valuable life lesson for students, especially since many rely on their parents for financial support. I am among those students. This means that my peers and I face a double impact, affecting both our parents and ourselves. In many families, it’s evident that they are barely managing and making sacrifices to afford their children’s education. In some unfortunate cases, students are forced to abandon their studies due to financial constraints.
In response to rising prices, I have started embracing more cost-effective and sustainable alternatives. Many other students are also increasingly turning to digital copies (PDFs) of books and opting for laptops or tablets instead of traditional paper notebooks, which have become more expensive. Moreover, I am seeking out affordable food options, shifting away from fast food for breakfast and dinner. One positive aspect of this is that even undergraduates who used to frequent tea stalls for tea and smoking are striving to improve their habits.
Shristi Bista, Kailali
Living and pursuing education in Kathmandu comes with its own set of financial challenges, effectively doubling the financial burden as my family has to manage both expenses back home and here for my education. This situation has taken a significant emotional toll on me, recognizing the strain it places on families already managing tight budgets. Sustaining a livelihood in Kathmandu has become an immense struggle.
It’s been five years since my arrival in Kathmandu, and I immediately started working to support myself. However, over these years, my salary has seen only a minimal increment, barely keeping up with the soaring inflation rate, which has surged around triple. This presents a dire dilemma for a working student like myself, making it increasingly difficult to manage finances adequately.
I constantly worry about being able to fulfill my financial responsibilities towards my family, who have made significant sacrifices to provide me with a good education. The burden of inflation adds an extra layer of stress, making me ponder how much easier life would be without these financial constraints caused by rising prices. Finding a way to navigate this financial tightrope is an ongoing challenge, and I remain hopeful for better days ahead. The inflation has hit me emotionally.
Shasank Sekhar Neupane, Jhapa
I have now lived in Kathmandu for six years. For myself, I am a student who also works a part-time job to support my daily necessities. The inflation that is soaring day by day is the main reason I have recently found it arduous to support myself here in Kathmandu.
I have a lot of issues with room rent, internet costs, and bus fares because of the rising inflation as a student living in Kathmandu. Keeping costs under control while working with a tight budget has gotten more and more challenging. The cost of internet usage has dramatically increased, while the rent for a quality room has risen. It is now much more expensive to use public transport, which makes it more difficult for me to manage my education.
I’ve attempted to lower my costs by adopting various simple measures, avoiding meet-ups, and outdoor foods, and switching to a slower-speed internet, but it still feels difficult. The fact that everything’s costs are increasing daily, and I have so little money to spend on other necessities, is frustrating. This is not unique to me; several of my acquaintances who are also having financial difficulties have made similar comments.
Bungatun Rai, Khotang
I live with SOS Village, and all of my expenses are borne by them. So, I don’t have to face the consequences of inflation directly. But I’ve witnessed numerous fellow students grappling with the impacts of both inflation and the prevailing economic crisis. A close friend of mine used to save a portion of his earnings in cooperatives every month. However, with the crisis in full swing, a significant number of these cooperatives have collapsed. With inflation on the rise and our savings slipping out of our control, how can students like us endure these challenging circumstances?
As students, this economic turmoil poses a serious threat to our financial stability and overall well-being. We find ourselves in a precarious situation, struggling to find viable solutions to survive these trying times. The collapse of cooperatives, which were once considered a reliable avenue for saving and investment, only adds to our financial distress.
Rajnesh Shrestha, Dhading
Due to rising inflation, the lives of students have become increasingly challenging. This surge in prices has affected essential expenses like food, housing, transportation, and daily necessities, making it harder for students to make ends meet. Despite stagnant income levels, expenses keep mounting. For instance, the tuition fees for engineering students have more than doubled from Rs 700,000 to Rs 800,000 five years ago to now over Rs 1.5 million. Additionally, the cost of study materials has also surged, making it difficult for students to afford materials essential for fostering new ideas or innovations.
When students move to Kathmandu from outside, they often need to purchase everything required to establish a livelihood since they don't have their own accommodation. Financially disadvantaged students often need to work part-time, which unfortunately affects their academic pursuits. Shockingly, some students are working for wages lower than the government-mandated minimum wage, even after attaining a graduate level of education. These circumstances force students to seek opportunities abroad for sustenance after investing heavily in their education. Consequently, the population of youth and students in rural areas has declined due to this exodus.
Dibyadristi Lama, Makawanpur
I am a working student. Thankfully, I don’t place any financial burden on my family. However, the impact of inflation has become a noticeable factor, occasionally causing my expenses to surpass my earned income. This situation forces me to reach out to my parents for financial assistance, a circumstance that I view with a tinge of disappointment. I wish to spare my parents from the strain of added financial responsibility, especially given their residence in a rural setting. Nevertheless, there are times when I must set aside my reservations and request aid to manage my expenses adequately.
My situation is relatively better. It’s disheartening to witness the challenges faced by some of my friends. They, too, grapple with the effects of inflation, particularly evident in the doubled bus fares that make it difficult for them to visit their hometown. Consequently, they’re forced to endure the emotional burden of being unable to be present for their family members when they are sick. The economic dynamics at play in our lives have indeed reshaped the way we navigate our personal and familial obligations.
Binod Bista, Doti
As a student, I’ve encountered numerous challenges stemming from inflation, which have significantly influenced my daily routine. From the moment I begin my day to when I retire for the night, the effects of inflation are palpable. Upon waking up, my first encounter with inflation occurs when I purchase vegetables, witnessing a twofold increase in prices for essential kitchen items. Throughout the day, the impact persists as I utilize public transportation, observing the elevated fares for bus rides. Late into the evening, following my night class, I rely on ride-sharing services since public buses are not available at that hour. However, even these alternative transportation options have seen price hikes due to the escalating costs of petroleum products, further adding to the financial strain caused by inflation.
Inflation has taken a toll on my mental well-being as well. In my area, there have been three instances of looting recently. A significant factor driving people toward such criminal acts is the struggle to sustain livelihood in Kathmandu. I worry about the possibility of becoming a victim of such looting incidents myself. It has impacted me psychologically.
Bishnu Maya Shrestha, Tanahu
Many students, driven by the aspiration to pursue education, venture to Kathmandu. However, the fundamental requisites of sustenance, namely lodging and food, become paramount regardless of the academic pursuit. Sadly, a few of my friends from Far West Nepal had to abandon their education in Kathmandu due to the overwhelming financial strain. The escalating inflation forced them to make the painful decision to interrupt their higher studies, illustrating the gravity of the situation.
This crisis demands urgent attention from the government, particularly concerning the welfare of students. Students represent the future of the nation, and any hindrance to their education results in a loss not only for them but also for society and the entire nation. If this pressing issue remains unaddressed, we risk a widespread exodus of intellectual capital, exacerbating the problem of brain drain on a much larger scale. It’s imperative that immediate measures are taken to alleviate the financial burden on students, ensuring a promising future for both them and the nation.
Bibek Pariyar, Sunsari
As a music student, I’ve recently relocated to Kathmandu, and it’s only been a couple of months. To pursue my passion and sustain myself, I perform gigs during the night. However, a recurring issue is that event organizers occasionally offer compensation in the form of food and beverages, a practice I find unsatisfactory. On a public level, inflation seems to play a central role in managing public affairs through financial means.
Another pressing concern is the alarming rise in incidents of theft and burglary. Returning home late at night from gigs feels increasingly unsafe due to this prevalent issue. Sadly, I’m left with no alternative but to face this risk. I suspect that inflation contributes to the surge in criminal activities, possibly aggravating the situation. Addressing these multifaceted challenges requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses economic stability, public safety, and fair compensation for individuals like myself, trying to make a living while pursuing their passions.
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