Schools across the country have been closed for most of 2020, some schools started remote learning and online classes. The Ministry of Education has been issuing contradictory orders about online classes, fearing it might widen the digital divide between private schools and government ones where 80% of Nepal’s students are enrolled.
The federal Ministry has now delegated decision on reopening of schools to local governments regarding reopening of schools. Kathmandu and Bhaktapur are planning to reopen school from this month.
Local governments are also working with the Health ministry and UNICEF to launch the Learning Continuity Campaign this week. The campaign engages parents, teachers and local government, providing guidance on safe reopening of schools and alternative modes of instruction like home-schooling, low-tech solutions like telephone/SMS for learning, radio programs on parenting and specific focus on marginalised children to prevent dropout, have been highlighted.
At Padmodaya School in Putali Sadak, principal Narayan Prasad Gautam and his team are busy making final preparations to reopen school despite shortage of classrooms to house over 1,100 students from Grade 1-9.
“We survived the earthquakes and their aftermath with temporary learning centres but Covid-19 is a whole new challenge,” says Gautam. “We can control and monitor students only for so long. As soon as they are out of our gates, it is up to each of them to follow safety precautions, and for parents to enforce them.”