Chimi Dema

Education Minister Jai Bir Rai has said that while central schools (CS) would remain, the government would provide CS freebies to only about 10,000 needy and disadvantaged students from the new academic session.

That means the government will not issue free school uniforms, shoes and socks for students in CS across the country. Resources will instead be directed in providing better and nutritious meals.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering added that there would be no wastage of money.

The students whom this scheme will benefit were selected from national housing and population census and from the findings of dzongkhag education officers and school principals. “The CS facilities will be also extended to other schools,” Lyonchhen added.

Boarding schools would be provided bedding and three nutritious meals a day, said Lyonpo Jai Bir Rai. “All other schools are going to have IT facilities and laboratories.”

Education ministry identified 55 larger boarding primary schools sometime in August that required additional facilities, of which 12 are primary campuses proposed for segregation from existing CSs.

Lyonpo said that discontinuing free school uniforms, shoes and socks would also promote local businesses that were affected due to outsourcing of procurement.

“Clothes, shoes and socks are all centrally procured. That affected the local economy. We are revitalising, re-energising, and re-establishing local economy,” said Lyonpo.

Lyonchhen said that more CS would be established in the coming years.

A CS review conducted by the education ministry found inequity and unequal distribution of resources among CSs and non-CSs, which created gaps in the facilities provided to students.

Of the 167,108 students studying in private and public schools, only 50,309 students studying in 63 CSs as of September last year were found to have benefitted from the freebies CS provided.