Education is the right of every human being. It is also to essential exercise other rights. Moreover, it promotes individual freedom and empowerment and provides development benefit. Needless to mention, the education is the bedrock to march towards the sign of prosperity and development. Despite this fact, millions of children in our country remains deprived from educational opportunities hindering their growth and development. In Nepal, especially in rural areas, many children fail to enroll in school as a result of poverty. From dawn to dusk, they are engaged in agricultural field or other economic activities to support their parents to meet their both ends.
Last year, hundreds of educational institutions were shut down for many days due to strike called by cadres of political parties and other outlawed groups which are clandestinely operating in different parts of the country. The objective of such strike is to exert pressure on authorities to make their demands addressed. While the strike has become a common practice in Nepal to mount pressure on government, the educational institutions are hit hard as they are forced to remain close during the strike depriving students from their inalienable right- the right to education.
Parents send their wards to the school and colleges with a hope that they will be protected and safe within the premises of educational institutions. They view educational institutions as a non violent zone where they are imparted the significance of education in curing the social anomalies existing in the society. Furthermore, the parents expect it be a temple of learning in a fearless environment. Given the existing situation attributed by frequent strikes in the garb of making disgruntled voices heard, the trust of parents have decreased multifold.
Nepali students will continue to learn in fearful environment if the disgruntled groups fail to recognize the adverse effect created by such frequent strikes in educational institutions. According to some credible reports, children tend to develop long lasting psychological effects and irreparable scar owing to frequent shut down of school and colleges. The same reports also laid high emphasis on social anomalies resulting from such frequent disturbances. In another bizarre incident, some member of unidentified groups torched the school bus and vandalized the institution's property worth thousands in eastern district of Nepal. It has been found that the students witnessing such incidents develop sense of fear leading to long lasting mental disorder
In urban areas, the parents do not have adequate time to oversee their wards during their working hours. As a result, the children can be easily misled and indulge into unlawful activities that could adversely affect their learning opportunities. Hence, parents on their part must supervise and provide strategic guidance on regular basis to widen their knowledge and understanding about the significance of education in the present context.
In a recently concluded program aimed to delve into the issues concerning with the impact of frequent strikes in the quality of education, the educationist from across the globe put forth their invaluable views and opinions in collective voice to that end. They said that how all these kinds of frequent strikes and protest rallies involving children increases social anomalies in impoverished region like Nepal. They urged the authorities and other stakeholders to seek an alternative to strikes to make their voices heard. Frequent shut down of educational institutions owing to strikes will not only deprived the children from educational opportunities but also develop irreparable psychological trauma and disorder among them. There is a dire need to end the bandh culture to guarantee the fearless learning opportunities within the school and college premises.
Other pressing issues that affect the learning opportunities of children include rampant corporal punishment in school across the country. There are credible report that says teacher often resort to corporal punishment when student fail to accomplish the assigned task to them. Last year, a student in mid western district of the country was beaten black and blue by the school teacher after he fail to complete the given work assigned by the teacher. Three days later, the student succumbs to injury while undergoing treatment at the local hospital. The deceased family has been demanding stern action against the teacher who is still at large. This is just the tip of the ice bergs. There are number of such incidents that go unreported for many reasons.
Over the years, especially after the restoration of democracy, the top leaders of the successive government have declared the school as a zone of peace and vowed to prohibit any political activities within the premises of educational institutions. In collective voice, they have pledged not to include school children in politically motivated rallies and protest programs. Unfortunately, those who have committed to promote educational institutions as vehicle of development are in the frontline to disturb the learning environment of school and colleges. This is glaring example of their ineptitude to translate their word into action. If they are really committed to transform Nepal in terms of social and economic betterment, they must end the culture of strike and protect and promote educational institutions as a zone of peace.