BIRGUNJ, Nepal, Feb. 8 -- Nepal, a landlocked Himalayan nation, may not be at par in resources and development with its neighboring countries but in educating its children, it certainly has adopted novel ways.
For example, a prison in Nepal will now provide education to inmates' children right inside the facility after an agreement was signed on Tuesday between school representatives and jailers in Birgunj, 283 km south of the Nepali capital Kathmandu.
When asked if a prison is good environment for educating children, Dhiraj Marasini, chief administrator of the Birgunj jail, said that opening a school inside the compound in fact would prevent children from getting into trouble.
"We want to show inmates' children that it is possible for them to study and to build a better future than what their parents have, " Marasini told Xinhua.
And it will also allow parents to look after their children while serving their prison sentences, Marasini said.
Krishna Bati Shah, a 27-year-old woman who has been serving a 20-year jail term for murder, is one of the inmates who will help in the construction of a school made of bamboo inside the facility.
"I am very happy that Pawan, my four-year-old son, will now be able to study at the prison premises," Krishna said.
The initial plan was to take the children living inside the prison to other educational institutes but it was later decided to set up a school inside the prison instead so that children could stay close to their parents even if they have been convicted for various crimes.
"The school will be for children aged 3 to 10. They are very young and we do not want to separate them from their parents," Marasini said.
Many children feel ashamed and the stigma of having parents serving sentence in prison will hound them as they grow older.
Research on what happens to children of inmates is limited in Nepal, but preliminary findings suggest that many of these children have low self-esteem and no hope for their future even though they have no part in their parents' crimes.
This is one of the reasons behind the efforts of Samata Siksha Niketan School to address the needs of inmates' children. "We often hear students comparing schools to prisons but we believe education can set the children free," Chairman Uttam Sanjel said.
Samata has become well-known in the field of education in Nepal, as it offers classes at minimal fees -- a hundred rupees a month ( around 1 U.S. dollar) -- giving children from cash-strapped families a much-needed education.
In Birjunj jail, inmates' children will study for free. Samata has pledged to construct a bamboo school and run the classes up to grade three from the upcoming academic session, which begins in mid-April. The 10-room building will accommodate 250 students at a time and will be completed within a month.
Inspired by the temporary movie sets in Mumbai Film Industry, Samata schools on bamboo structures have been set up across Nepal.
As a youth, Chairman Uttam Sanjel went to Bombay to make his career in the movie industry and he came up with the idea to construct bamboo schools because they are easy to build at minimal cost.