Thursday, July 16, 2009

Five SLC distinctions: one hits limelight, rest in limbo

KATHMANDU, July 16: They went to the same school. They come from a similar family background of poverty and hardship. And all of them secured distinctions in the SLC exams. But the similarities seemingly end there for these five talented classmates.
After the SLC results, Bhawana Tamang came into the national limelight-- Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal invited her and her mother to his official residence to congratulate them; over a dozen schools offered her free education; and generous financial support is pouring in from within the country and abroad.

But her classmates -- Raju Yonjan, Ramesh Bhujel, Bikash Waiba and Pramila Tamang -- still live a dismal life and worry about their future.

It was the coverage of Bhawana´s inspiring story by a national daily that made all the difference. While she was catapulted into some sort of stardom overnight, the rest of the five still live in obscurity -- their stories untold.

Raju Yonjan used to study at Arun Jyoti School when his parents were employed at a carpet factory in Bauddha, and everything was hunky-dory.

But then misfortune struck. The parents lost their jobs, and Raju his school. A few years later Parang and Fulmaya still don´t have any work. But Raju luckily found a school affordable for his unemployed parents, and it is from there that he passed this year´s School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exams with flying colors.

“I scored more marks (85.75percent) than top-scoring friends from Arun Jyoti School,” Raju says with a sheepish smile, trying to see a positive side in his family´s situation. But there isn´t much that is positive and his parents are in no position to help him pursue higher studies to become a hotel manager while at the same time putting their unmarried older daughters through college at Pashupati Campus.

Raju´s classmates Ramesh, Bikash and Pramila also have stories to tell similar to that of their friend Bhawana, whose success in the face of abject poverty and abuse from an alcoholic father touched many.

All of them passed this year´s SLC with distinction after having studied up to 10th grade for free at Samata Shiksha Niketan. And each one of them knows first hand poverty and deprivation in every sense.

Ramesh´s parents are farmers struggling to support a younger brother and a younger sister studying in grades seven and six at the same school, which charges a monthly fee of just Rs 100 for every level.

“You just think about your studies and secure good marks,” he recalls his school principal Uttam Sanjel saying to the five classmates. But having secured 85.5 percent in the SLC, a cruel reality has now dawned. He knows his parents cannot help him with further studies to become a computer engineer.

Pramila´s father Dhan Bahadur is a security guard with Rhino Security while her mother Nichen occasionally makes liquor to sell to local restaurants. She also has a sister studying in eighth grade and brothers in fifth and sixth grades at the same school.

“My parents sometimes have difficulty paying the school fees for my siblings,” Pramila says with a note of resignation. After securing 84 percent marks in the SLC, she wants to become a staff nurse. But being the eldest child in the family, she knows their limitations only too well.

Bikash Waiba´s father Jaya Bahadur is a daily wage laborer while his mother Maya weaves carpets. The Waibas also have a son in sixth grade and a daughter in nursery at Samata, and are somehow making ends meet.

Nobel Academy, the +2 college, is showing interest in making arrangements for higher secondary level studies for Bikash, who dreams of becoming a chartered accountant one day.

“I have always wanted to become a chartered accountant and believe I can do well in the field,” says Bikash, who secured 88.25 percent in SLC and was narrowly pipped by Bhawana after doing better than her in pre-SLC and sent-up exams.

Published on 2009-07-16 00:00:01
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Please give your full name while posting your comments. This is not to stifle the free flow of comments but your full name will enable us to print the comments in our newspaper.

I have got a different view though.
The government cannot provide "free higher education" to its citizens since it costs too much and it only is beneficial to those who get free education but not the general tax payers. Not many countries in the world offer free education to over 16 year olds. In the UK there is a provision by which students can borrow loans to study through Students Loan Company. Can this be done in Nepal via the new constitution so that potential students (rich or poor) borrow money for study (absolute minimum required for study) and pay on a monthly term once they start a job on completion of their education. this will be a win win situation for all.
Another argument is whether you are rich or poor you should get a free education up to 16 years of age (which I guess is prevalent in Nepal). Beyond 16 it is up to individuals to pursue if they so wish but at a cost repayable later when they start earning.
Just scoring percentage-wise cannot be a barometer of ability, there could be some pupils who failed (due to unfair education system where one has to pass all subjects not to fail) the SLC but could well be talented actors/actresses, singers, mechanics etc who could have extremely well given the opportunities they were presented with (i.e. someone from a poor background in a government school in a remote district who scores only 40% could in fact be extremely talented but they could only score that much because they did not have good resources (good teachers, text books, available time to study etc).
- Boz Baral
i thanks the repoter for the great news.really, it a great religion of journalism.if the students do the hard work as well as the their parents give the contribution,their children will get succes in the education.but the government should make the right policy for those students.
- dipak titung tamang

If you guys at assure that the story is authentic, and if you can recommend some reasonably priced colleges, then I want to know the tentative cost. If the cost comes out to be reasonable to me, then I will consider sponsoring one of these poor students who secured above 80% in SLC, for the next 2 years of education plus some living expenses. Would you form a team and list the nations some best schools (10+2), rate them and outline the cost. If forms a trustable team of "a foundation patroned by" journalists like Prateek Pradhan, Narayan Wagle, Damakanta Jaishi, Gunraj Luitel, then I am really interested in donating some money for good cause. Via your trust lest people run or donate money under some specific scholarships, just like in developed countries the foundations run scholarships sponsored by third party. It is a right time for you initiate such initiatives.

The reason I want this is to make sure that the hard earned money reaches to the target recipients without any middle man. At the same time, you can have some donation drive via dinner parties (e.g. $100). I am ready to buy a ticket no matter how expensive it is, for example for my relatives or friends or professionals as honor, no matter what they actually eat, if the major part of such ticket goes to such needy people.

You can change. That is the community service we can offer. It is the time to pay back, so that these faces can changes or bring changes in next generations.

I am really interested to hear your responses.

- GyaRel
Dear Editor,
This comment is in response to the news article titled,"Five SLC distinctions: one hits limelight, rest in limbo" published in your coveted newspaper.

The issue has been rightly pointed out . But, what concerned me the article is the future of those meritious students . As Right to Education has been gauranteed as a fundamental right by the present Constitution of our country, no one should be deprived of an opportunity to build a bright future for themselves by pursuing the career of their choice.
As we are thinking of transforming Nepali society into a meritocratic society , poverty should no longer be a hindrance to developing the potential of the students, deserving students should always be given a proper chance. Above all, the state should take the responsibility of educating all the deserving students like Bhawana, Raju, Ramesh, Bikash and Pramila, so that their talent would not be wasted and their life would not be ruined.
- Renu Ghimire
this story is really touchy
i don´t know how to contact these guys
but i would like to help these bonafite students for their further studies.
i m also a student but i m an NRN in USA i think i can afford their education
email me at

- amit yadav

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