PM and Indian ambassador present for formal launch at Wangbama CS, Genekha

Education: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and India’s ambassador to Bhutan, Gautam Bambawale, formally launched the 24 central schools yesterday at Wangbama Central School in Genekha, Thimphu.

Principals of all the 24 central schools across the country attended the launch.

Although the central schools were formally launched only yesterday, academic session began in the schools since March this year.

The prime minister said that, from just 11 schools with about 400 students in 1961, the number of schools has increased to 655 with 175,393 students today.  At least Nu 35,000 is spent annually on each child studying in a central school today.

“Principals and teachers need to keep in mind that there is only one vision. It’s how to improve the quality of education,” the prime minister said. “Along with the quality of education, discipline, quality of food and other co-curricular activities also must be improved.”

Prime Minister told the people of Genekha that the coming of the central school in the community would open up many socioeconomic opportunities for them.

Each central school has about 1,000 students, 80 percent of whom live in the hostel.

Central schools are a part of the school reform programme under the Bhutan Education Blueprint.

The central school concept is a strategic intervention to fast track improvement in the overall quality of education through restructuring school system, by establishing large centres with proper boarding and adequate educational resources.  Most of the central schools are in rural areas with major and permanent catchment areas.

Day students of central schools are entitled to mid-day meals and stationery supply only.  Boarding students get stationery, a set of school and sports uniforms, bedding and three meals, among others.

Karma Yeshey, director general of the department of school education, said that enrolment in central schools was expected to grow. “We’ve no doubt that, through this initiative, we’ll be able to ensure equitable access to quality education, and also improve sustainability and efficiency in service delivery.”

A total of 49 central schools have been planned in the country.  The government of India (GoI) supported the establishment of 37 central schools with Nu 3487.19M (million) through its project tied assistance (PTA) programme.

GoI also supports the establishment of 12 more central schools through a small development grant of Nu 536.42M.

The government provides all recurrent cost, including salary, provision of uniforms, stationary and meals, among others.

Nirmala Pokhrel