Phurpa Lhamo  

Over 4,000 students of Classes X and XII in Thimphu will walk, take the buses and private cars to sit for their board examinations in various centres today.

Across Bhutan, around 26,800 students will sit for the exams this year.

For students, this comes after days of waiting; for the government and the school administration, after much preparation and many meetings.

Until yesterday evening, officials continued to pick students from red buildings and dropped them off in containment areas for the examinations.

Photo: Pema Dorji, Facebook

As of yesterday afternoon, over 150 students who were primary contacts, those in red buildings, and Covid-19 positive students were isolated in hotels. Invigilators and other preparations were also put in place.

A thromde official said that with numerous red buildings being identified every day, the number of students being isolated was increasing.

However, even with hours away from the examinations, most parents who had applied for e-passes to drop their students to examinations centres waited for approval.

According to education secretary Karma Tshering, the e-passes should have been issued last night.

A list with details of the parents and the students who wished for e-passes was already shared with 1010 help desk. More than 550 parents had applied for e-passes.

Kuensel learned that by evening, the officials were processing the blanket approval, which would allow parents to drop their students at the centre until the exams ended.

Secretary Karma Tshering said that while e-passes were being issued, he advised parents who were residing near the exam centres to have their children walk to the centres.

Beginning today until the end of the examinations, 24 city buses will run across Thimphu city—ensuring students reach the exam centres and back home.

The buses will ensure that more than 1,300 students located more than 30 minutes walking distance away from the centres reach for the exams.

An education ministry notification advised students to reach bus stops in their respective mega zones before time so as not to miss the bus service.

“However, should any students miss the bus due to unavoidable circumstances, you may call 1010 for assistance.”

The buses will not stop at the usual stop areas but will follow the route and a time schedule issued by the education ministry for different zones.

This was shared with the principals, which was to be further shared with the parents in a meeting held yesterday. The schedule was also shared on social media pages.

Also, by yesterday evening, the education ministry declared that students are not required to produce RT-PCR test results to appear for examination in view of the fact that a vast majority of them had undergone the RT-PCR test on February 26 and those who tested positive have already been isolated.

Three new examination centres were created to accommodate around 80 students in conference halls in the Ministry of Information and Communications (40), and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (40). Education officials and principals of thromde schools met past midnight to distribute primary contact students and those from red buildings to these centres.

An earlier announcement sent students rushing to various testing centres only to find it closed with the announcement coming in late.

Despite many challenges, the examinations begin. Board examinations were postponed from an initial plan in December last year to February 14 this year.

However, with rising community cases across Bhutan, the date was further postponed to February 28. The board examinations will end on March 12.

Across Bhutan with over 150 schools with Classes X and XII students, the examinations are held following protocols and guidelines issued by the education ministry.

Earlier, the education ministry issued guidelines on conducting examinations in various scenarios, with more specifications on the school’s location in terms of their proximity to areas with Covid-19 cases.