The current academic session started six months ago but the students of 23 community schools in Apihimal Rural Municipality, a remote local unit in Darchula district of Sudurpaschim Province, are yet to receive textbooks.
The supplier has not yet delivered new textbooks to the community schools of the rural municipality, says Birendra Singh Saud, education unit chief of the rural municipality.
“Kamalesh Singh Manyal was awarded the contract to supply the textbooks to the district but he has not yet delivered,” said Saud.
The new academic session in Darchula commenced from mid-June this year. The session usually begins in mid-April but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, classes were delayed. Students in other rural municipalities received their textbooks in July but hundreds of school children in Apihimal Rural Municipality are yet to receive theirs.
According to Saud, the rural municipality signed the contract with Manyal on June 29 on the condition that he deliver the books before the start of the academic session.
“The rural municipality also took time selecting a supplier, which pushed back the delivery date. So far, some schools have received textbooks for certain subjects but not all,” he said.
Surma Bhawani Basic School in Apihimal-2 said that the school has received textbooks for only grades 1, 2 and 5.
“Textbooks for grades 3 and 4 are yet to be supplied. We haven’t been able to follow the lesson plan since the students have yet to receive their books,” said Damak Bohara, the headmaster at Surma Bhawani Basic School.
Khandeshwari Secondary School in Apihimal-4 has a similar situation. According to the school administration, the supplier has not yet delivered Nepali textbooks for grade 9 and the books for Nepali and Occupation, Business and Technology Education for grades 7 and 8.
“The procurement process for school textbooks is cumbersome. Schools have to depend on contractors to supply them with books. In most cases, the contractors don’t meet the deadline,” said Khadak Lothyal, the headmaster at Khandeshwari Secondary School. “It’s not easy for students to learn without proper textbooks.”
“The curricula of some grades have changed this year but the students do not have the books for the new lesson plan,” said Laxman Rokaya, whose ward attends a community school in Apihimal-2. “Our children haven’t been able to learn anything this year. They sat for their first-term exam without having studied anything.”
The rural municipality says it has issued letters to the supplier several times, instructing it to supply the books at the earliest. It says it will take action against the supplier if the delay continues.
Kamalesh Singh Manyal, the supplier, admits that around 10 percent of textbooks are yet to be delivered. He claims that he could not supply the remaining textbooks due to a shortage of the said books in Dhangadhi, the provincial headquarters.
“We have to buy books in Dhangadhi and bring them to the district. Janak Education Material Centre in Dhangadhi does not have the books we need,” said Manyal.