Yangyel Lhaden

“Good morning, sir!” greets students of XI Commerce A.

“Have you finished the exercise from yesterday?” Kinzang inquires. Students nod. “For those who completed it, great job! But if you couldn’t, don’t worry. We can work through it together.”

The lesson of the day is about bank reconciliation statements.

“In practical world, for big companies, the list will be endless and companies conduct reconciliation once a month or even weekly,” Kinzang says.

After solving the exercise, Kinzang encourages the students to try another one. A student raises his hand and Kinzang promptly walks in: “The money has been directly deposited into the bank account. Do you add or subtract?” Kinzang adds: “I will give you the direction, but you have to figure out the solution.”

Kinzang, a former corporate employee, has been volunteering as an Accounts teacher at Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School (YHSS) since midterm due to shortage of Accounts teacher.

Of the three accounts teacher at the school, one had availed medical leave and the other on his way out, preparing to go abroad.

From January until May, more than 500 teachers had left the profession. In Thimphu Thromde alone, as of September 15, 211 teachers had left and in the last two years, until last December, 173 teachers had resigned.

Concerned, the school’s principal, Yesh B Ghaley, discussed the issue with educational officers at a school event. Kinzang, who was attending with his son, overheard an education official say, “There are no Accounts teachers in the market.”

Kinzang had decided to take a break from corporate world and attend to his family’s needs but he talked with the principal, his old family friend. “If the situation is very dire, I can help.”

“It hurts to observe the mass exodus of experienced and qualified people and the teaching is hardest hit,” Kinzang says. “ I joined to fill the shortage gap in my small ways although I do not have teaching experience. But I believe in my practical experience.”

Yesh B Ghaley, aware of Kinzang’s background and potential, was worried. There was no way he could pay Kinzang.

Kinzang’s wife was worried, too. “How will you provide for the family?” Kinzang assured her that he could support the family for at least six months using his retirement benefits.

Kinzang has decided to teach until the end of this academic year. “I love children and am passionate about teaching. Being around them is therapeutic.”

The students weren’t aware Kinzang was volunteering. “When we came to know he was volunteering for us, a deep and profound respect grew towards him amid many teachers leaving us,” says Dorji Dolma. “He is my favourite teacher.”

Dorji says Kinzang is patient and even pauses his lesson when a student takes a bathroom break.

However, the beginning was rough for both Kinzang and students, who couldn’t understand his way of teaching. “It was high-class accounts with practical applications, but we had never been taught beyond textbook knowledge,” says a student.

Even so, students found Kinzang’s presence and teaching a better alternative than combined classes with different teachers.

“With him, our learning became more stable and consistent,” says a student.

Kinzang was quick to realise his shortcomings and sought help from another Accounts teacher, reviewed their lesson slides, and framed his lessons to bring them down to the student’s level with the inclusion of real-life practices.

“His teaching has improved significantly over time,” says Tandin Om, a student. “He teaches us concepts which make it easy to solve any related exercises because we understand the concept.”

Kinzang’s teaching is not conventional, says Tandin Om. “He translates textbook knowledge into real-life practices, helping us gain practical skills.”

Dorji Dolma says that after midterm Accounts score improved significantly.  “I understand he can’t keep teaching us for free with a family to support. I hope he receives a salary like other teachers because it would be easier to learn if the same teacher continues with us in Class XII.”

Kinzang has a private accountancy firm that he wishes to continue after he leaves teaching.

“He has even offered to hire us in his consultancy firm,” says Dorji Dolma. “How fascinating it is that we will get a chance to apply our accounting knowledge in real life!”

Currently, there are five Accounts teachers at YHSS: three regular teachers, one on a national contract, and Kinzang.

By the end of this year, three Accounts teachers could leave the school, including Kinzang.

“I am worried that the same pattern of shortages will continue,” says one teacher.

But Kinzang gives some hope. “Although I won’t be able to teach full-time, I assure you that I will step in if there is a shortage next year and teach specific lessons.”