At least 950,000 children in Nepal will not be able to return to school, unless urgent action is taken to provide temporary learning spaces and repair damaged school buildings following the 25 April earthquake – according to UNICEF. Almost 24,000 classrooms were damaged or destroyed in the 7.8 magnitude quake that hit the country, with many suffering further damage in subsequent aftershocks.
The scale of the education crisis is expected to grow over the coming days and weeks as additional information flows in from remote areas. Schools were due to reopen on 15 May, but after the last aftershock the reopen date is uncertain.
“Almost one million children who were enrolled in school before the earthquake could now find they have no school building to return to,”
“Children affected by the earthquake need urgent life-saving assistance like clean water and shelter, but schools in emergencies – even in a temporary set-up – play a vital role too. They minimise disruption to children’s education, protect them from exploitation and abuse, and provide them with messages to keep them safe and healthy. Going to school also allows children to regain a vital sense of routine that can help them come to terms with their experiences.”
In the severely-affected districts of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot, it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of schools have been destroyed, while around 80 per cent of school buildings have collapsed in Dhading. In some areas, including Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, approximately nine in ten surviving school buildings have been used as emergency shelters.
Nepal’s high drop-out rate was already a major concern. Around 1.2 million Nepali children between the ages of five and 16 have either never attended school or have dropped out. The experience shows that children who are out of school for extended periods, including during emergencies, become less and less likely to ever return to the classroom.
“There is a desperate need to set up alternative learning spaces, assess and repair buildings, and mount a public awareness campaign encouraging families to send their children back to school and preschool,”
“Prolonged interruption to education can be devastating for children’s development and future prospects.”
PEDH is willing to assist getting children back to education as soon as possible – including working to set up child friendly spaces and temporary learning spaces in the districts affected by the earthquake. Supporting UNICEF and the government to prepare national guidelines on setting up alternative learning spaces and public awareness.