Even in areas with higher Covid-19 caseloads like Baglung district, some schools are re-opening. The Wadigad Rural Municipality is taking the government’s directive of developing an alternative education model with an uncommon approach: community learning.
Principal Dhalmani Bhandari of Tribhuvan Secondary School says his classrooms have been turned into a quarantine centre with 19 active cases, so his students are assigned to 15 alternative education centres scattered across the municipality. To avoid crowding, each will have two shifts: 10am to 1pm and afternoon 2pm to 5pm.
“Education is a basic right, and we cannot deprived our students from it,” Bhandari said. “We are using television and radio for distance learning, but for other students who do not have access to those devices, we are using the community learning method.”
Wadigad had 47 Covid-19 patients, and Bhandari is frustrated with the Ministry of Education in Kathmandu not allowing local governments to decide whether it is safe to re-open schools or not.
“The government cannot have a blanket ban on classes all over Nepal. In places with few or no Covid cases, schools should re-open with all necessary precautions,” says Shanta Dixit, director of Rato Bangala Foundation, which supports rural schools with training and teaching material.
Students are being told about wearing masks, covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing, washing hands with soap, and health experts say these will also prevent the spread of non-coronavirus infections like tuberculosis, measles, typhoid and diarrhea.
Municipality Chair Raju Bista of Lo-Gekar in Mustang says that most families cannot afford to buy disposable masks every day for their children or spend on sanitisers, so the school is propagating cloth masks and handwashing.
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