Rule: Trashigang’s Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) decided to write to the Ministry of Education to revise the five-kilometre radius rule to be eligible for admissions in central schools.

Raising the issue, Phongmey Gup Palden Dorji said that people are finding this rule “very” discriminatory.

“Does the policy translate to an understanding that people living within 5-kilometre distance from the schools are richer than others? This is not fair,” he said. “When central schools are providing lots of facilities, every child should have the right to get enrolled.”

Sakteng Gup Tshewang Tshering said the ministry should have a system in place to study the poverty level and living conditions of those residing within the school’s 5-kilometre radius.

“There are many from humble backgrounds who are able to afford their children’s education. The ministry should enroll them first and then provide opportunities to the rest,” said Tshewang Tshering.

Dzonkhag Education Officer (DEO), Phuntsho, explained that the policy the sector is following at present has been in practice for decades. Since central schools won’t be able to take in every child because of limited space, the ministry is continuing with the policy for now, he added.

“With time, we will come up with more central schools and, slowly, do away with the five-kilometre radius rule. If there is enough budget, we have plans to provide uniforms and shoes to day scholars as well,” said Phuntsho.

Phuentsho added that the central schools enroll children from poor backgrounds irrespective of whether they live within or outside of 5-kilometre distance. “We want to accommodate every child in central schools, but given the limited space, it is not possible at the moment.”

Samkhar Gup Sonam Dorji said that there is a very slim possibility that central schools would ever have enough space to enroll each and every child. In such a case, he said there is a need to at least bring down the 5-kilometre radius rule.

There was, about the issue, a wholehearted support from the DT members.

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang