Schools in quake-hit Nepal re-open after five weeks

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: May 31, 2015 15:24 IST

His home in Dolakha was destroyed in the April 25 quake, but Krishna Nepal (13) was smiling and excited on Sunday. The eighth grader was happy to return to school.

"I am very happy that classes are starting and we will be able to continue our studies," said the student of Sanskrit Secondary School in Kathmandu, one of the many schools destroyed by the temblor.

Krishna's school is housed inside the campus of Durbar High School - Nepal's first school established in 1854 - which was destroyed in last month's quake. It resumed classes on Sunday from a temporary shed.

"There will be counseling for parents and students for a week where we will attempt to remove the fear of quakes from the students. Regular classes will resume after that," said principal Hem Chandra Mahato.

Schools in 14 worst quake-affected districts were closed till May 15 after the April 25 quake that killed nearly 8,000 people and left thousands injured. But they were shut for additional two weeks after another massive aftershock hit on May 12.

Classes resumed from May 31, but with more than 32,000 classrooms destroyed and over 15,000 damaged, nearly one million students (UN estimate) restarted studies under open skies, tents or sheds.

The April 25 quake claimed the lives of 479 students and 45 teachers. Since it was a Saturday, schools and offices were closed. Many feel the number could have been much higher if it had occurred on a working day.

Many schools in Kathmandu Valley didn't suffer much damage in the quake but with aftershocks still taking place, there was apprehension among parents and students about safety.

"I spent the last month playing at home and am excited to go back to school. I hope there are no aftershocks when we are in our classes," said Sumegha Ratna Tuladhar (5) a class one student of Little Angels School, Lalitpur.

Sumegha's father Naresh Ratna Tuladhar said his son's school hasn't suffered any major damage. To prevent any accident, the school management has decided to restart classes only in the first two floors of the five-storey building.

The education ministry plans to adjust the five-week quake break with the 45 days meant for summer and winter holidays so that students are able to finish their curriculum on time.

For the time being it has instructed school authorities to ensure students come back to schools, are provided with a safe environment and indulge in recreational activities to get over the fear of quakes.

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