Although the government has set up children development centres in six wards of Daduwa rural municipality in Banke district, the centres are no attraction to the children owing to various reasons.
The government set up such centres to bring all the children of school going age under the ambit of education. Among six wards in the rural municipality, ward no 3 alone has 17 such centres. These wards have dominance of people from Madheshi community.
In Saraswati Child Development of ward no 3, there were only five children attending the centre last Friday. The centre can accommodate 30 students but it only received 20 this academic session (on Saraswati Puja). Due to the lack of awareness about importance of education, parents from impoverished Madhesi communities do not want to send their children to the centre which offers education to the children starting from 3 age for free of cost.
Teacher Chanda Regmi has been teaching in the centre for the past 10 years. She said, The children admitted in this centre do not attend their class regularly. According to her, the local parents here are unaware that they should educate their children. Many parents would feel inspired to send their children to the centre after seeing others.
On many occasions, parents have sent their children in the positive intervention of Chand. I sometimes reach their houses and bring their kids to the centre. She opined that if the centre had offered free meal/snacks to the children, it could further lure them. Also, scholarship scheme could attract the attention of the parents to such centres, she added.
The centres are also not-so-children-friendly, she admitted, describing, The toddlers can hardly climb the stairs themselves to enter the class. The roof of the centre is porous. In rainy days, water leaks from the roof while in winter its awfully cold to sit comfortably inside.
The centre is run in the building provided by the local municipality. The parents seem to be rather interested to send their children to the privately run expensive Montessori school while they hesitate to send their wards to government-run centre.
The Laliguransh Child Development Centre at Halbaldoli village is also suffering the same fate. There are altogether 25 children enrolled while only around 10 attend the class regularly, according to teacher Sabitri Oli. Oli grieved, The students do not come to class regularly. On the top of that, they are not punctual. According to her, many children who come to the centre unwillingly also go home mid-way in the pretext of toilet and drinking water.
Another worry for the teachers here is the teaching/learning materials and other stationery materials that disappear mysteriously. She divulged, The sports items and materials for teaching learning go missing without our knowledge.
Manokamana Child Development Centre's Urmila Singh added, The centres have not been effective among the Madheshi community. The children do not want to attend the centre regularly and we cannot always to go door-to-door to bring them to the centre. She said, offering a reality check of the centres.
To this, Daduwa Rural municipality chair Narendra Chaudhary offered another insight, We have been trying every possible means to encourage the parents in Madheshi communities here to educate their children but to no avail. He is, however, undeterred that together with the local unit, parents and teachers, they would be able to launch an awareness drive in the Madheshi community and convince them to educate their children.
Chair Chaudhary also pledged to make efforts to address the issues facing such centres including with the guarantee of adequate stationery supplies and mending the poor infrastructures.
Source: National News Agency Nepal