Sindhupalchok: Bishakha Bhandari, a 17-year-old girl from Tripurasundari Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchok, was about to quit school because her family couldn’t afford the fees. But then the municipality announced a new policy: free education up to grade 12 and free midday meals up to grade 8.
Free Education and Midday Meals Program:
Bhandari was thrilled. “I dropped my decision to quit school,” she said. “Now that I don’t have to worry about the expenses, I can focus on my studies and work towards my goal.”
Bhandari is not the only student who has benefited from the new policy. Sandesh Tamang, a 14-year-old boy from Barhabise Municipality, also comes from a poor family. He was planning to quit school, but the free education and midday meals program changed his mind.
“Many of my friends have dropped out of school in recent years, mostly due to financial troubles,” Tamang said. “But now I can stay in school and get a good education.”
Out of the 12 local units in Sindhupalchok, only three—Tripurasundari Rural Municipality, Barhabise Municipality, and Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality—have implemented free education and midday meal programs.
The local units are funding the programs with their own budgets. “We hope the rural municipality’s step will help reduce the high dropout rates in community schools,” said Shaligram Ghimire, head of the education unit at Tripurasundari Rural Municipality.
The new policy is a welcome relief for many families in Sindhupalchok. It is also a step in the right direction towards ensuring that all children have access to quality education, regardless of their financial background.