An educational institution in the remote village of Taplejung attracts students from distant places
While most of Elina Chaulagain’s friends traveled to the big cities to pursue their education, she headed out two years ago to join a community school in a remote village of Taplejung.
The teenager from Mangalbare to Ilam was unsure about the move she was making from Ilam to Taplejung, a mountainous district in eastern Nepal. She enrolled in Grade 11 at Sinam Secondary School in Sirjanga-1 Rural Municipality, Taplejung, where her father Lila Chaulagain was a teacher.
Elina joined her new school with a heavy heart to study education.
“At first, I couldn’t even eat or sleep. But once the lessons started, I started having fun and I was actually very happy with my choice to study in this school,” she said. Elina, who passed the 12th grade of Sinam High School, now plans to complete her bachelor’s degree from Sinam Multi-Campus.
Prashamsa Khadka from Letang-9 Township in Morang District was also not very enthusiastic about joining Sinam Secondary School. Generally, students from mountain and hill districts descend to Tarai for higher education, but Prashamsa was an exception.
“I come from Morang, a district of Tarai. Usually, students from hill and mountain districts come to Tarai to study. But here I was doing the opposite,” Prashamsa said. “My friends have often asked me why I chose to go to this remote village to study. Earlier, I wouldn’t have an answer. But after studying here, I can tell them that I made the right decision.
Prashamsa also plans to continue her studies in the same institution for a bachelor’s degree.
Sinam Multi-Campus and Sinam Model Secondary School in Sinam Village attracts students from various districts of Province 1 as they provide quality education.
The school’s main attraction, however, is the free-for-all education through grade 12. The Rural Municipality of Sirijanga ran free education for all up to grade 12 to attract students to the Sinam-based school.
“The school provides us with details of the students, based on which the Rural Municipality allocates a lump sum for their education,” said Tika Gurung, chairman of the local body.
For students from Dalit and poor communities, the rural municipality provides free education up to baccalaureate level.
According to Mahendra Prakash Gautam, director of the educational institution, students from 13 different districts of Province 1 are currently studying at the institution.
“We also have students from out of province. Students from Siraha, Saptari, Rautahat, Mahottari and Kathmandu come to our school and college for education,” Gautam said.
There are currently 1,094 students in grades 1-12 at the school. 344 additional students follow various technical subjects at the Sinam Multiple Campus. The educational institution also runs classes in agriculture and junior technical assistance.
“Most of the students from outside the district come to our school to study technical subjects. We run lessons in two different shifts, morning and day, for the convenience of the students,” said Tulasi Pokharel. According to him, special coaching courses are also organized for students.
Students are happy because they have a good learning environment and support from the school and college administration.
“Many of my friends who study at other institutions often complain that they are not attending enough classes as the institutions remain closed due to protests and strikes. But our school is safe from such protests and strikes” , Elina said Sinam Multiple Campus and Sinam Model Secondary School were only closed during the Covid-19 closures, she said.
In view of the growing number of students from outside the district, the school, with the help of the Rural Municipality of Sirijanga, is constructing a reception building to accommodate around 300 students. So far, most students whose homes are away from school have stayed in rented rooms.
According to Urmila Thebe, the chairperson of the school’s management committee, a rule has been enforced among the villagers that prohibits them from charging large sums of money to students as rent for the house. This ensures that students can easily rent rooms near the school at low prices.
“Villagers are not allowed to charge more than Rs 500 to a student per month. Students can buy green vegetables at low prices in the village,” Thebe said.
Sinam Multiple Campus and Sinam Model Secondary School currently have 44 teachers. Among them, 29 fall under positions assigned by the government while the remaining 15 teachers were appointed by the school administration with its private resources.