Admission rush for Class 11 students in Thimphu on April 24 was a dangerously chaotic event. What could have been done conveniently from home resulted in a massive crowding at Babesa Higher Secondary School where registration happened. In the days of rising Covid-19 cases, regionally and at home, this was a poorly-managed situation that could have gone wrong in many ways.
Done right and properly with strict health protocol and measures, the whole affair could have been understood in the right perspective. But it was an event that was truly unnecessary given the fact that the students had already got their placement for higher secondary education. When almost everything has already moved online, from “classroom” education to the many services like filling in bank, insurance and NOC (no objection certificate) details, calling students and parents to fill in a form which could have been done conveniently later in school was needlessly bureaucratic and risky.
Risky because the crowd was huge. There was no physical distancing, no hand washing requirement or facility. There were those who wore face masks there but there were also a large number of people who couldn’t care less. Frustration was writ large on many a face.
There were a few de-ssups on duty but the situation required more, to control a crowd of more than 1,000 students and parents. An official from the thromde education said that parents accompanying their children led to crowding, but that is only to be expected when students from across high schools in thromde had to gather at one place for registration.
“We did not foresee [that]. That surprised us”, is a lame answer. There is no accommodation for such excuses.
While education officials maintain that Covid-19 measures were strictly followed, a parent shouted, “Here is a situation! If one of us gets Covid-19 today, we are more than a thousand here. Do we have a big enough hospital to take us all in for treatment?”
Registration of almost half the students continued the next day. But there was a conspicuous absence of crowd at Babesa Higher Secondary School because it had finally dawned on the officials that registration can be done online with much less hassle.
Thankfully, we are still in the position to manage the Covid-19 cases in the country. With four new positive cases yesterday, we now have 94. In neighbouring India, positive cases number about 400,000 a day. The new strains of the virus are spreading fast. What we also know is that the vaccines do not protect us entirely from the pandemic.
Such carelessness and dangerous lapses so are unacceptable. The cloistered and sheltered officialdom and individuals responsible must be held accountable. What we can ill afford is opening the doors to community transmission of the virus.