CHITWAN, Oct 15: Antyodaya Indigenous Boarding School established to impart education solely to children from the backward Chepang community is reeling under dire financial straits.
The school was established at Khirahani-1, Karaiya, 12 years ago with the personal initiative of social activist late Kishor Chandra Dhungana, who believed that education could help uplift the children of backward Chepang community.
The expenses for stationeries, books, hostel and food of the boarders are completely borne by the school itself.
Following the death of Dhungana in 2003, the school began suffering financial problems, according to head teacher, Ghanashyam Pradhan.
The school did not, for instance, open new admission for class one this year owing to worsening financial situation. “With the deteriorating financial condition, we did not take in new students this year. This has happened for the first time in the school´s 12-year history,” said Pradhan.
Late Dhungana, who remained unmarried, dedicated his time and property to uplift Chepang community. He was himself involved in managing food, stationeries, uniform and other necessary items for the students at his school.
“Dhungana began teaching 20 children at his school from April 2000,” informed Pradhan. The school today runs classes up to 8th grade.
For further studies they go elsewhere, but the school´s hostel shelters them until they complete 12th grade. The school has been providing shelter to 184 Chepang students at present. Altogether 58 students have passed their School Leaving Certificate exams from the school so far.
“Nobody had to bother about the management of school as along as Dhunagana was alive. After his death, it has become harder to manage all the expenses,” according to a teacher, Ram Babu Chaudhari.
According to Principal Pradhan, the annual overhead cost of the school is over Rs 3.2 million. However, only 2.6 million rupees has been managed through the assistance received from different organizations and by leasing the 4 bighas land donated by Dhungana. The school has been facing annual loss of Rs 400,000, Pradhan said.
“The main donor of this school at present is Room To Read, which has expressed its inability to continue assistance beyond 2015. We will be on our own after that,” Pradhan said.
Pradhan has initiated campaign to set up a permanent fund of Rs 1,00,00,000 to meet the running cost of the school. “If we fail to collect the money to set up the permanent fund, we will fall into a deeper financial crisis. We may even have to shut the school,” said Pradhan.