The primary school, however, will now continue as an extended classroom

Education: Following an appeal from parents of 12 students to not close Banjar primary school in Mongar, the dzongkhag decided to keep the school open, but as an extended classroom, starting this academic session.

Farmer Sithar Dorji, 50, said some parents have already sent their children to their relatives in Samdrupjongkhar and Thimphu for schooling, while others have kept their children home.

“If the school had informed and consulted the people before taking a decision, we wouldn’t have wasted anyone’s time,” he said.

DEO Dorji Passang said the decision to close the school was arrived at after the school was short of one child to meet the required number of 10 students for an ECR.

“The school has only nine students, four in class I and five in class II,” Dorji Passang said. “But after the villagers requested, we retained the class III student and reopened the school as an ECR for the academic session.”

But he said that, even if the lone class III student had remained in the village school, he would need a teacher to teach him mathematics, English, Dzongkha and EVS. “The quality and knowledge he’d receive here wouldn’t be up to the mark,” he said. “He’d get better education if he joins a primary school.”

Worried about their children’s schooling, a group of 12 villagers had travelled to Mongar, about 77km from their village, to appeal to the dzongkhag administration to reopen their community school.

A mother of three, Ngawang Tshomo, 30, said that her eight-year old son could now stay home and attend school in the care of the parents. “I was worried about leaving behind my son in a boarding school in Tsamang,” she said.

Another parent, Tshering Leki said her son was lucky to be able to continue his studies from home. “I’d otherwise decided to keep my seven-year-old son at home throughout his life.”

DEO Dorji Passang said, by mid-March, the school would reopen when a new teacher reports to the dzongkhag.

By Tashi Phuntsho