ADB helps rebuild earthquake damaged schools in Nepal | Sunday Observer

ADB helps rebuild earthquake damaged schools in Nepal

19 January, 2020
Sanjiwani school
Sanjiwani school

Nepal is still recovering from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck in April 25, 2015, killing 9,000 people and causing massive destruction.

The 2015 Gorkha Nepal earthquake caused tremendous damage and loss. The majority of the damaged buildings were stone/brick masonry structures with no seismic detailing, whereas most of the RC buildings were undamaged. This indicates that adequate structural design is the key to reduce the earthquake risk in Nepal.

The Asian Development Bank hosted a team of South Asian journalists on a South Asia Regional Media Capacity Building Tour on Disaster Risk Management and Regional Tourism in Nepal recently. The journalists had the opportunity of visiting the reconstructed Sanjiwani Model Secondary School in Dhulikhel.

Sanjiwani school is one of the nine model schools reconstructed under the Asian Development Bank Earthquake Emergency Assistance project. Besides 32 new classrooms, the school has a 12-room hostel for out-of-town students. To enhance science education, the school has been provided with ICT and science laboratories equipment. The model school concept is a new initiative under the government’s School Sector Development Program, which aims to improve the quality of education in Nepal.

“The school was originally made by local people with the funds from selling the rice they produced. When the devastating earthquake happened, around 200 teachers were marking board examination papers. They were all safe. A one month holiday was declared and the past students were called to re-build the structures temporally,” Sanjiwani Model Secondary School Principal Lokendra Dhakal said.

“As this was a big school, the funds were not sufficient. We sought donor support. We experienced another earthquake after 17 days and at that time were conducting a health camp. A further 15-day holiday was given. With the rebuilding of the school, the current running programs are for preparatory, Grade 1 to 10 and Grade 11 to 12. It is operated through a government and public partnership model with funding contribution by the government, local government, NGOs and INGOs together with local people,” he said.

Prime Minister of Nepal K.P. Sharma Oli handed over the newly reconstructed Sanjiwani Secondary School in Dhulikhel to the community at a ceremony held in April. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the reconstruction of 154 such schools badly damaged by the 2015 earthquake under the Earthquake Emergency Assistance Project.

“A better reconstruction process can strengthen a country’s resilience to natural disasters. Reconstruction offered us an opportunity to put up better building and all the schools reconstructed after the earthquake with ADB support follow better standards, building norms, and amenities,” ADB Country Director for Nepal, Mukhtor Khamudkhanov said.

“The schools are not only safe and earthquake resistant, but also have better facilities. A safe and nurturing learning environment goes a long way in helping children develop their full potential,” he said.

The school has 871 students, 431 boys and 450 girls with a teaching staff of 70 with a vision to conduct digital and smart classes. It has an e-library, well equipped resources to access faculty. The pass rate at the secondary examination averages 75 percent while recording 60 percent success rate in Science and 80 percent in Engineering streams. The school facilities include earthquake resilient building, Science laboratory, virtual class, computer lab, library and hostel in a children friendly environment.

“We are ready to keep up the quality of the education. For this, we are grateful to the ADB for funding the reconstruction. Our enrolment has gone up by 200 students due to the facilities and quality of education offered. We are aiming to be the best education provider in the country,” School’s Vice-Principal Pawan Pradhan said. With the increase in reputation, the school is receiving substantial funds from the Central Government to maintain the school standards, he said.

“We were conducting a health camp when the May 12 earthquake happened. All came out of the camp and the old building started falling. We assembled near the pond. The shaking continued for a long time. We were saved because of the blind structure and open ground,” Primary teacher Niva Shreshtha said, sharing the May earthquake experience.

“We were very scared. We thought we will not be able to live anymore. However, now we feel safe due to the new building. We are lucky to have this school back,” two students Sangam Gautam from Grade 9 and Pranisha Ghimire from Grade 11 said.

The school is the oldest in Nepal and the education is offered free.

ADB is supporting the government’s efforts to put thousands of children back into schools, return vital government services to earthquake-affected communities, and create jobs and income for families by repairing critical road networks. A total of 162 schools, including 17 schools funded by USAID and eight schools funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, are nearing completion with 90 schools already substantially completed under the project. The ADB is also supporting reconstruction of 174 schools under the Disaster Resilience of Schools Project. ADB is supporting schools to prepare their own school disaster risk management plans. ADB support to Nepal reconstruction totals $382 million.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members - 49 from the region.