By Manjima Dhakal
Kathmandu, Mar. 19: A group of Nepali students studying in China returned home for winter vacation when the coronavirus pandemic was brewing in China before it enveloped the rest of the world.
Among these group of returnees were four students, Abhineet Datta, Madan Kumar Baskota, Nira Maharjan and Mamta Sharma of Chang’an University in Xi’an, China. With the COVID-19 outbreak restricting travel, they had no choice but to stay back home and wait for the situation to get back to normal.
However, the situation only worsened following Nepal government’s decision to impose restrictions and lockdown. With the educational institutions across the nation disrupted, the foursome of Chang’an University was particularly satisfied as their institution decided to start virtual classes to further their academics.
However, more than a year has passed since then. The pandemic fear, although apparent, has hugely subsided as compared to the initial phase. In Nepal, educational institutions have resumed along with all the other sectors. However, the fate of the four students along with several other foreign students stuck in Nepal continues to remain uncertain.
Several Chinese universities remain mum in discussing the further course of action. The China-returned students have no idea when they can re-join normal physical classes with the academic institutions not specifying their return time. The universities’ silence has started to trouble students like Baskota. “We worry if we will be able to complete our course and get the degree,” said Baskota, an engineering student at Chang’an University.
Chitwan-native Sushil Khanal, who returned to Nepal from Australia following the pandemic, faces a similar plight. He is now unable to travel back to Australia to pursue his remaining education as the country has barred foreign students from entering in light of the virus threat.
Sanju Panthi of Kalanki has a slightly different story from Khanal and Baskota. Panthi completed all required procedure six months ago to visit South Korea for her higher education. She already paid Rs. 800,000 to the college as fee via a consultancy in Nepal. But the South Korean University where she got enrolled has yet to invite her for physical classes.
Though the government has no accurate figures of students stranded in the country, an official of the government claimed that a large number of students are currently stuck in Nepal.
Deepak Sharma, spokesperson at the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST), said the government has been trying to find a way out for such students from diplomatic initiative through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sharma said the Ministry can’t talk directly with concerned countries because it is a diplomatic issue. However, the Ministry has taken initiative to solve the problems of the stranded students.
– The Rising Nepal