Education: Rangjung Central School (RCS), Trashigang. It is 12:45pm. There is a long queue of students.  It is time for lunchtime.

Among the crowd is 11-year-old Kuenzang Tshering. He comes from an economically disadvantaged family. In Radhi, where he is from, he used to walk for almost two hours to school. Often, he would not be able to go to school. The family had barely enough to eat. His academic performance slipped by the year.

“Every morning, I had to take our cattle to graze. At times, I would get late for school and had to stay back,” says Kuenzang Tshering. “We had to survive on a single meal every day.”

But now at the Kuenzang Tshering RCS, he has not missed a single class so far and his academic performance is improving. “When I was first admitted here, I only had a pair of track pants, which I had to share with my younger brother. After a couple of days, we were provided with clothes and slippers.”

Just like Kuenzang Tshering, the central school has admitted 33 students with special needs this year.

Pem Tshering is a Class PP student at RCS. After his father passed away, he and his mother lost their home. He began to talk less, rarely smiled. A small heart had to take too huge a burden. At RCS now, Pem Tshering is gradually opening up. He has also become by much healthier.

Jangchug Dema is another student who has benefitted with the coming of the central school.

Principal of RCS, Tashi Namgyal, said students and parents have welcomed the idea of central school. Mid-day meal, he said, has helped improve the attendance of students.

“Even the number of students who visit the BHU has gone down and the intake of junk foods has dropped,” he said. “Mid-day meal has helped students focus in the classes.”

The central school has 516 boarding students this year.

After the completion of two hostels, one each for boys and girls, RCS expects to provide boarding facilities to another 300 students.

“For a central school to succeed, I believe that those at the ground-level should take ownership of the initiative. Even the best of the policies could fail if the principals and teachers don’t work hard to make it happen, ” Tashi Namgyal said.

Tshering Wangdi  | Trashigang