The Prime Minister announced that this year the government will focus on the professional development of teachers

Education: While it’s usually teachers waiting to receive the Prime Minister or cabinet ministers at receptions, it was the other way round on May 2 at Royal Institute of Management (RIM) in Thimphu where Teacher’s Day was observed.

In a rare occasion to recognise the importance of teachers, Lyonchoen and the cabinet ministers welcomed teachers from Thimphu with a red carpet reception to RIM hall. As teachers made their way to the hall, cabinet ministers took turns to offer a khadar to each teacher.

At the entrance of the hall, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, education minister Norbu Wangchuk, and the education secretary Sangay Zam, greeted each of the over 1,400 teachers with a “Happy Teacher’s Day” and welcomed them with applause.

“Walk on the red carpet please,” education ministry officials urged teachers who strayed onto the pavement. “Today the red carpet has been unfolded for you.”

Touched by the grand reception, a teacher from Khasadrapchu middle secondary school (KMSS), Kezang Dukpa felt emotional.

“I felt uplifted and motivated by the way we were received by the prime minister and the cabinet ministers,” Kezang Dukpa said. “I think no where in the world are teachers given a red carpet reception. It really touched the hearts of the teachers.”

KMSS principal, Karma Samphel was awed and overwhelmed with the grand reception. “I feel lucky to be a teacher for the last 23 years,” Karma Samphel said.

Teacher’s Day this year was different because the education ministry organised the event for the first time. “The event was initiated with an objective to make teachers feel an important part of the system,” education ministry’s chief human resource officer, Kinley Gyeltshen said.

This event was part of an initiative to give teachers credit, appreciation and gratitude for their contributions. While many were impressed by the red carpet welcome, the cherry on the top for the evening was Lyonchoen joining Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and young students to sing “Kadrinchey” for teachers across the country.

“I was happy to be able to put myself with Lyonpo Norbu because really I wanted this opportunity to thank you teachers,” Lyonchoen said after performing on stage.

The idea of the celebratory event was framed on April 28 when Lyonchoen met Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk and asked for plans on Teacher’s Day. Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk had planned to visit a remote school.

It was upon Lyonchoen’s mention of a dinner with the teachers of Thimphu that the Sherig Lyonpo decided to plan the event. Lyonchoen said what happened is Lyonpo Norbu got carried away because he was a teacher and he knew what teachers wanted. “Our teachers just wanted to be told that they are important,” Lyonchoen said.

Following the discussion, the education ministry immediately began gearing up. Although the ministry had just three days to organise the prizes for the lucky draw for over 8,000 teachers, support from parents, individuals and businesses made the task possible.

Within three days parents, individuals and businesses contributed over 75 laptops, mountain bikes, cell phones, tsholhams and watches, which were distributed to teachers across the country through lucky draw. Trips to Bangkok and South Korea were also awarded in the lucky draw.

“There has been an overwhelming support from parents, individuals and business entities in expressing their appreciation and gratitude to teachers,” Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said.

Lyonchoen was concerned that teachers are not appreciated enough. “But today I am delighted to see that I am wrong and that we love our teachers and that we appreciate our teachers. The day’s event was made possible because of an outpouring of love, admiration of gratitude and thanks for our teachers,” he added.

“All of them donated anonymously. Nobody wanted their names,” Lyonchoen said. People just wanted the opportunity. They grabbed the opportunity to express their love and gratitude to teachers even anonymously.”

Lyonchoen pointed out that a teacher’s duty is not limited to only teaching in the classroom but includes dealing with a variety of students, ranging from the bright and hardworking to those who go astray. He added that teachers also have to deal with students who come from broken families, are subjected to abuse at home, and require counselling. “These children have no where to turn to except our teachers. Their teachers, that’s where they do turn to for comfort,” Lyonchoen said.

Lyonchoen also pointed out that the importance of teachers in the country has been emphasised by His Majesty The King and His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, by visiting every school in the country and granting audiences to teachers.

“I will always support teachers throughout my reign. I will give you more importance and more recognition than any other sector because you are going to make the greatest difference to the future of our country,” His Majesty The King said in His address to teacher trainees in Samtse College of Education in 2012.

Lyonchoen said that he was happy to be able to gift teachers a portrait of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck who represents Bhutan’s future. “And you, dear teachers, you have the responsibility of preparing the country for the future,” Lyonchoen said.

As part of the government’s strategy to further develop the profession, the government has declared 2016 as the Teacher Development Year. “This government will be by your side to help you realise your dreams, responsibility and mission,” the prime minister said.

Tempa Wangdi