Students assemble at Samata Sikshya Niketan at Jorpati, Kathmandu, the first of Nepal's "bamboo schools", founded in 2001. Named for the construction materials used, these schools provide a high-quality primary and secondary education for poor Nepali youths for fees of less than Nr 100 ($1.12) per month. Currently, the schools reach 14 districts, educating over 30,000 students. [Photos by Surath Giri/Khabar]
Uttam Sanjel, (left) 38, shares the results of School Leaving Certificate (SLC) examinations. Sanjel, a Kathmandu native who once aspired to be a Bollywood actor, founded the first bamboo school during a conflict-ridden period in the country.
Female students perform their school prayers in the courtyard. One unexpected benefit of the bamboo schools is that students are predominantly female, helping close the education gender gap in a country where discrimination remains pervasive, as parents send their sons to expensive private schools while sending their daughters to cheaper public schools. Bamboo schools have become a better alternative for female students.
A grade 10 student completes her math assignments. Despite its inexpensive cost, the performance of students educated at Samata Sikshya Niketan is impressive. In 2011, 92 out of the 120 students that took SLC examinations passed with distinction.
Sanjel plans for bamboo schools to reach all the country's 75 districts. At present, most students come from poor families and many of their parents are migrants working abroad.
A building nickname signboard honours active sponsors Madan Krishna Shrestha and Hari Bansha Acharya. Prominent Nepali personalities support and promote bamboo schools and their contributions are acknowledged by hosting rooms with their names.
Students participate in morning assembly. Founder Sanjel says Nepal's future depends on an educated younger generation that can rebuild the country once it achieves stability and peace.
Two young girls pose for a photograph during a break in the school day.
A young boy emerges from his classroom holding his books.
Students participate in school prayers. The school in Jorpati currently hosts around 4,500 students and employs 100 teachers.