MoE clarifies on entitlements due to day-scholars as opposed to boarders

Education: Allaying confusion over who are entitled to free amenities in central schools, education ministry officials clarified that day scholar students were not eligible for free uniforms and bedding.

Just as for boarding students, the need to also provide free uniforms and bedding to day students was recently raised by parents whose children are studying in Udzorong central school in Trashigang.

According to the December 2014 operational guidelines for central schools, day students are entitled to mid-day meals and stationery only, while boarding students will receive stationery, a set of school and sports uniforms each, bedding and three meals, among others.

Eligibility for boarding is based on space, for which schools will develop criteria to determine eligibility.  The criteria may be based on need, walking distance and socio-economic background.

Central schools continue to follow the admission guidelines followed in other schools that maintain the boarder to day-scholar ratio at 80:20.  However, this may not apply to all central schools due to space, location, readiness and need, states the operational guideline.

According to education ministry’s enrolment projection, the 24 pilot central schools will together have 15,729 students.

Director general of the school education department, Karma Yeshey, said that, based on affordability, it was decided to provide just stationery and the mid day meal to day-scholars.

“It doesn’t discriminate students from around the community, which is a small proportion,” he said. “If everyone is given everything for free, it would mean adding more to the expenditure of government exchequers.”

Meanwhile, beginning this financial year (July 2015-June 2016), the education ministry will grant autonomy to all 24 central schools, taking the number of autonomous schools to 43 across the country.  The other 19 schools were granted autonomy early last year, but were given financial autonomy only last July.

“Although all central schools will be autonomous, all autonomous schools are not central schools,” Karma Yeshey said.

By all measures, central schools are large, he said, and they ought to have certain freedom on how they function. “Ultimately autonomy should translate into improved quality of education.”

All autonomous schools are also given authority over human resource management, but they have to follow certain norms.

The director general said that, if the central school concept became successful, then more schools that catered to a large number of students could be granted autonomy in future. “We want to cut down the administrative burden as much as possible on the school,” he said.

By Nirmala Pokhrel