All schools needed more facilities to meet concept of central school

Education: Putting in place all the facilities for the central schools across the country might take at least a year, according to education minister Mingbo Dukpa, who is currently visiting the 24 pilot schools.

One of the reforms initiated in the education sector, the central schools were initiated to address the issue of informal boarding.  Implementation of central schools in 24 pilot schools began from this academic session.

However, lyonpo said that, in terms of infrastructure and facilities, all six central schools, like Tsangkha in Trongsa, Pasakha in Chukha, Sonamthang in Zhemgang, were in a disadvantaged position.  Most needed more facilities to meet the concept of a central school.

“Since it’s the first year, facilities like dormitory and classrooms are lacking in some central schools,” lyonpo said, adding the shortage is expected to remain until next year.

For instance, Tsangkha Central School (TCS) will still need an additional hostel for both boys and girls.

“Although the school has no pressure in terms of large number of students, the admission of more students next year would require a six-unit building to be constructed,” TCS Principal, Rabilal Sharma, said, adding that, in the long run, even an administrative block would be needed.

Zhemgang CS and Sonamthang CS are also facing similar issues.  Zhemgang’s officiating chief dzongkhag education officer, Karma Wangchuk, said both schools were in need of 200-bed hostel each.

Sonamthang CS would also need six units of classroom since Panbang PS will be merged with SCS.

“Once these facilities are in place, all children from Panbang are expected to move to Sonamthang,” Karma Wangchuk said, adding the dzongkhag had already started floating tender for construction of these facilities.

The dzongkhag is also planning to make use of the existing structures from its Zhemgang LSS for ZCS.  The facilities from ZLSS are now used for classes from preprimary to six in ZCS.

“A temporary shed is being constructed to start day feeding from April for day scholars,” Karma Wangchuk said.

Meanwhile, only students, who stay five kilometres away from the school’s radius, have been admitted as boarders in ZCS.

“The practice will continue until the structures are ready,” Karma Wangchuk said.

Similarly, the central school in Tang, Bumthang also would need hostels for boys and girls, a science laboratory and a toilet.

“The budget has been approved, so construction is expected to start by June,” Tang CS principal, Nidup Gyaltshen, said.

The minister, however, said that not every central school shared the same story.

“While some central schools might lag behind in terms of infrastructure, others are already established,” Mingbo Drukpa said. “Yes, there are shortcomings, but we’ve discussed to work on these issues continuously.”

The education ministry has already discussed with the principals and teachers preparing the plans to build these facilities from the next fiscal year.

“I’ve appealed to schools, local leaders and dzongkhags that starting anything new necessitates adjustment but, as progress is made, things will improve,” lyonpo said.

Lyonpo explained that the central school policy had to be implemented immediately amid the shortage of facilities given the state of the quality of education today. “The ministry decided to make do with whatever it has now than wait for an ideal situation,” lyonpo said.

By Tempa Wangdi, Trongsa