Central school offers child an escape from a life of labour

Education: Eight-year-old Premila, a class-PP boarding student of Dechentsemo central school (CS), was working as a babysitter in Wangdue.  That was three months ago.

One evening of last winter, she met a school staff member, who asked her if she wanted to go to school.  Her parents were consulted.  And Premila’s life changed overnight.

“I use to frequent the shop that was run by the school staff’s wife, and he saw me carrying a baby all the time,” said Premila.  She whispers more than she speaks. “When he asked me if I wanted to go to school, I said yes immediately.”

Premila doesn’t know her age.  She worked for a family in Paro before she was sent to babysit in Bajo.

From Trashigang, Premila’s parents are road construction workers and live in Menchuna, Punakha.  Premila has two older sisters, a brother and a younger sister.  She is the first to go to school in her family.

“I’m happy here and I feel lucky be in school. My parents don’t have to buy school uniform and work hard to feed me,” said Premila. “Babysitting was difficult.”

Premila now has a dream.  She wants to study hard and support her parents and siblings. “It would be really very nice if my siblings too can go to school.”

Dechentsemo’s principal, Kinley, said Premila is already the example in the school.  Dechentsemo has many students like Premila, some of whom are supported by His Majesty’s Secretariat and non-government organisations.

The school’s teachers contribute to help students from poorer families.

Dechentsemo is now a central school that has boarding facilities.  The school provides school uniform, sports wear, bedding and food, among others.  The school gives admission preference to children from financially challenged families.

It is early evening at Dechentsemo CS and Premila runs around with her friends.

Dawa Gelmo, Punakha

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