KATHMANDU, 19 April 2005 - UNICEF has condemned the recent bombings of private schools in Nepal. The bombings follow a call by the student wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) for all private schools to close indefinitely from April 15, the start of the new school year.
“To bomb schools is a senseless and cruel act against the children of Nepal,” said Dr Suomi Sakai, Representative of UNICEF Nepal.
“When schools are scarce and more than half a million children are not in school in the first place, to wantonly destroy schools only helps push its children back into ignorance. Nepal does not have enough schools for all its children. The private schools play a major part in helping ensure more children get to learn to read, write and count,” she said.
There are an estimated 8,500 private schools in Nepal, representing roughly one quarter of all schools.
“Destroying or closing down private schools – and thus forcing many more children into an already over-burdened public-school system – will not help improve the quality of education in public schools, said Dr Sakai. “To attack education and educational institutions is to attack the future of the next generation of Nepalis. The children of Nepal deserve better from the adults who made the decision to attack schools."
"As I have said before, it is vital that the adults involved in fighting this conflict recognize their common interest in ensuring that the next generation of Nepalis can read, write and count," she added.
Dr Sakai noted that the UN System in Nepal had urged all parties to ensure that the new Nepali year was a year of peace in Nepal’s schools. She reiterated the UN’s call for all parties to help ensure that:
With other education partners in Nepal, UNICEF has been working to improve the quality of government primary schools, to increase enrolment of girls and children from disadvantaged backgrounds, and to ensure that they stay in school. For children unable to go to school, because they are working, displaced by conflict, or for other reasons, UNICEF is supporting Out-of-School classes both in the townships and in the villages.
For further information, please contact:
Susan Aitkin, UNICEF Nepal, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gordon Weiss, UNICEF New York, 212 3277426 email@example.com