A small hamlet is nestled inside a forest and an old school is on its edge. The school is mandated to run classes up to grade five. The doors of the classrooms are always open, waiting for students. All the classrooms have desks and benches, and other paraphernalia.
Everything is so normal at the Durga Bhawani Primary School except that it has only one student. This school at Chitre, Modi Rural Municipality, was established in 2040 BS (1983). Although the school had many students in the past, Neeraj Lamsal is a lone pre-primary student attending the school these days.
Thaku Kumari KC is the only teacher to teach the lone student at this school.
Although there is only one student, KC is fulfilling her responsibility. She reaches the school on time six days a week. Before, there were two female teachers, including KC, and an office assistant. But the teacher and the office assistant were sent to another school on deputation.
As a result, KC remains the last solder standing as she religiously reports to work, looks after the school and teaches the lone student.
Why did the numbers decline?
This is what the teacher had to say: "There used to be 10-15 students who regularly came to school until last year. The number of people migrating out from the village has increased. There's a brook on the way to school from the village and there's no bridge to cross it.
Although kids can cross the creek in winter, they can't do so during the monsoon. The students mostly go to the next school far from the village for lack of a bridge."
The teacher is disheartened to come to the school with only one student. No wonder, she has requested the Rural Municipality Office to "adjust" her in another school.
Earlier, hordes of children from the surrounding neighbourhood came to school. They came from Hile, Darak, Lamsalthar, Pangalithar, Regmithar and Saradekhola but now go to another school one hour away.
However, the locals are against combining two schools facing a similar predicament.
A bridge too far
Sher Bahadur KC, a local resident, said: "This is the only school for the entire village with 70 households. We are discussing with the rural municipality office on constructing a bridge over the stream on the way to the school, repairing the foot trail to the school and making arrangements for teaching in English medium."
The rural municipality office, on its part, says that they are in consultation on managing not only the Durga Bhawani Primary School but also other schools with very few students.
Meanwhile, Rural Municipality Chairperson Hiradevi Sharma had this to pledge: "No child should be deprived of their right to education. It is hard to get students due to out-migration. At some other places, there is a problem as students are not satisfied with the teachers."
With RSS inputs