Almost seven months into the school year, schools in Mugu have yet to receive the full sets of textbooks. This has widened the gap between the curriculum and student learning.
Aasha Karki, a ninth grade student at Sarbodaya Secondary School in Khatyad-8 Rural Municipality, and her 37 classmates attend school regularly but were unable to complete their lessons without textbooks.
“We have not yet received textbooks on economics, science and education. Almost half of the lessons were taught in class, but it’s hard to learn without a book in hand,” Karki said.
Academics have taken a back seat in many community schools in Mugu, a mountainous district of Karnali province, as federal and provincial elections are fast approaching. Many schools will be used as polling stations and most local authorities seem more keen on preparing schools for polling day than providing textbooks to pupils.
“They even transported ballots to school, but no one is talking about delivering textbooks to our school with the same urgency,” Karki said.
The Electoral Commission transported the ballot papers to Mugu on Saturday by helicopter. According to the provincial election office, ballots are being transported to the 10 districts of Karnali ahead of the federal and provincial elections on Nov. 20.
“The ballots and other logistics have already been sent to the mountain districts. Our preparations are almost complete for the 20 polls,” said Durga Prasad Chalise, Provincial Elections Officer.
Asked about the delay in supplying textbooks, local government officials, who oversee school management, say they have made efforts to supply the books but there is little to prove .
“Many actors are involved in the supply, supply and transport of textbooks. Only the initiative of the local unit will not solve the problem of the shortage of books in Mugu,” said Sarita Rokaya, vice-president of the rural municipality of Soru.
“Our local unit released the budget for the books on time. But the disruption of road transport caused by the October rains made it difficult to deliver the books.
Students are disappointed with the inability to ensure timely supply of books. “I don’t think delivering textbooks to students is a priority. If the ballots could be airlifted, I am sure there is a possibility to make a similar arrangement for textbooks,” said Nabin BK, a ninth grade student at Sarbodaya Secondary School, Khatyad. “We don’t understand what is being taught in class. We don’t have books for four subjects and this affects our school results. »
Sarbodaya school management admits that the shortage of books has hampered all community schools. “The local unit does not send the budget to buy books on time. Then the carrier adds to the delay,” said Lokendra Karki, the school principal. “Having new textbooks to learn boosts students’ morale. Without them, it is very difficult to hold the attention of students in class.
Kamal Shahi, whose neighborhood attends Sarbodya Secondary School, says the lack of books means his child cannot study at home either.
“Class work is not enough to prepare a student for exams. You also have to prepare at home, but since there are no books, the students couldn’t study,” Shahi said. “Their performance deteriorated over time in the absence of manuals.”
Panchadaya Secondary School in Khatyad has still not provided math textbooks (grade 6); Computer science (seventh year), Vocational, commercial and technological training (eighth year) and Optional mathematics (10th year).
The Mahadeb Masta Model Secondary School in Ratapani is also badly affected by the shortage of textbooks. Year 5 students have yet to get their English textbook while Year 8 and Year 9 students are studying Occupation, Business and Technology Education and Science without textbooks.
“The shortage of textbooks affects both students and teachers. Pupils have learning problems while we struggle to teach them without books,” said Naresh Bahadur Shahi, Principal of Mahadev Masta Model Secondary School in Khatyad.
Textbooks are provided to Karnali by the provincial office of Janak Shiksha Samagri Kendra in Surkhet. According to Dhan Bahadur KC, a total of 1,401,789 books are needed for students in grades 4 to 10 in Karnali province. “Of these, 929,141 pounds have been transported so far,” KC said.