Imposing Lockdown only is not a solution indeed

7 July 2020, Kathmandu

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in severe economic and social impact worldwide affecting the educational systems most importantly. The outbreak has leaded to the near-total closures of schools, universities and colleges.  Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly virus and Nepal is no exception. It has been over three months that the schools and universities have shut down and the education system froze in the country.

Ever since the number of positive cases for coronavirus started soaring in the country, schools and universities are still not resumed though the lockdown imposed by the government has made ease for the public. Online education however has been launched by some institutions, still not being able to prove fruitful to meet the needs and demands of the students particularly of rural areas. Study shows that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the progress made to date on Nepal’s education outcomes impacting children and young people, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Most importantly, during this crisis teachers working in private schools have not been paid for so long as the schools are refusing to pay many teachers their salaries. Though, private school in Nepal have a long history providing support to government effort to improve the quality of education in Nepal, they are being unable to pay their teaching and non-teaching staffs on regular basis.

Organizations of the private school have said that the private schools would not be able to pay their staff members unless the government provides a suitable alternative to them in this current situation. They claimed that they were facing problems in managing the school as the government instructed them not to charge any fee to the guardians. On the other hand, most of the private schools and colleges are administrating their regular activities being depend on the fee collected from the parents so far. Thus, they are really facing problems as government prohibited schools from collecting fees.

However, some schools are requesting parents for collecting annual fees for the current session providing concessions which is not applicable equally to all parents during this tough time.  Similarly, though government had ensured new modalities and approaches to revive the education sector collaborating with stakeholders on a national framework that guides safe reopening of schools, it is practically not working till date. So far, maintaining social and physical distance, sanitizing school’s vehicle, desk -bench including all stuffs seems not so much practicable in Nepal.

We all are facing very difficult time during this pandemic and common effort is needed to get rid of all these hurdles. Private schools must prepare to lobby the government allowing them to enroll students in areas with low COVID-19 infection rates. Reopening of schools in these area after analyzing the risk of spread of the infection is needed after all. Government soon need to introduce relief package to schools’ and colleges hit hard by the lockdown by exercising necessary precautions. So far, educational institutions should go with their social responsibility not only depending on government asking to recover the losses caused by the lockdown.

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