November 9, 2015
The following article, originally published as “Donors are ready to Build Schools” on November 6, was written by Maker Shrestha for Kantipur Daily in Nepali. It was translated into English by my assistant and edited by me.
Kathmandu – The I/NGOs are ready to commence the construction of the school buildings destroyed by the earthquakes, but the government has not yet provided them with the necessary school-building design. Forty-eight organizations have already signed a MOU with the Department of Education (DoE) to construct 2500 classrooms of 500 schools, investing about 2 billion Nepali Rupees. It’s been six months since the earthquakes but the department still does not have the design of the school buildings.
Nor has the department allocated any budget for the construction of schools devastated by the earthquakes. This is after the commitment received from the JAICA and ADB for school reconstruction. ADB has already sign an agreement with the department, but the JAICA has not. Students in these schools have no option but to study outside [or in temporary structures] because of the negligence of the department.
“The Chamber of Commerce and Industries has signed an agreement with the department to construct 140 schools but hasn’t been able to start the construction in absence of the design,” says Kishor Kumar Pradhan, the vice-president of the organization. It has agreed to spend 224 million Rupees for the project. “We have already visited the department more than 40 times asking for the design” and “every time the answer is ‘sure’”. This is the attitude that has frustrated the donors. Few donors have proposed to design the school buildings on their own and these designs have also not been given approval by the department.
The Small World Nepal has signed an agreement to build five schools in Solukhumbu but has not received the design to commence the construction. “We have been frequenting the department asking them to approve the design we developed. [If they don’t accept our design they should] provide us with their design,” says the chair of the organization, Karma Sherpa. He says, “in absence of a proper school building, the students are suffering in the village where we have committed to build. But the government delays the process.” Small World Nepal has provided the Department of Education with five million Rupees but the department insists on more funds. “Donors wants to know ‘what kind of schools are we supposed to be building?’ How much will it cost?” says Karma.
[This has put the brakes on] not only organizations but also individuals, who have collected donations for school reconstruction. Sudeep Ghimire and his friends want to construct two schools in Rasuwa from the surplus funds they received for early rescue and recovery. They already made an agreement with the department to construct one school. Ghimire says that they already have five million Rupees allocated for the school but that they are waiting for the DoE design before they can start construction “Whenever we ask for the design, the department asks us to come the next day or the next week. They keep postponing the date”. One donor said, “The longer the department keeps the donor waiting, the more proposed school projects will disappear. The donors are now in the mood to scrap their projects.”
Many organizations have signed agreements with the DoE to build schools, including Radha Swami Satsang for 18 schools, Choudahry Foundation for 100 schools, Children Reach Nepal for 18 schools, Helvetas for 20 schools in Sindhupalchok, Helambu Education and Livelihood for 15 schools. and Room to Read for 43 schools. There are other organizations that are ready to build at least one school in these districts.
The civil engineer of the department, Yubraj Poudel says that the DoE has completed one design for primary schools, but still working for alternative primary school designs and new designs for lower secondary and secondary school. He further said that it will take at least a month to finish other designs. “Those who have submitted their design to the department need not wait long now, since, the meeting of the technical committee is scheduled for Friday and the meeting will approve the appropriate designs,” says Engineer Poudel.