Nim Dorji | Bumthang

The extended classroom (ECR) at Tandingang village in Tang, which was opened four months ago, will be closed next year.

The ECR was opened after villagers requested the Prime Minister, when he visited Tang last year to campaign as the president of DNT during the Chhoekhor-Tang by-election.

Without proper facilities, the ECR operates in the hall of a private dratshang near Tandingang village although it opened after officials from Bumthang dzongkhag education sector and Tang Central School inspected the site and approved it.

The issue was raised during the recent dzongkhag tshogdu when the budget was presented.

Tang gup, Ugyen Nima, pointed out that the budget proposed for construction and maintenance of Tandingang ECR was missing.

Dzongkhag officials, however, responded that the school would be closed from next year as they received letter from the Department of School Education, Ministry of Education that it does not fulfill the criteria of ECR.

The letter states that five year students projection plan submitted by the dzongkhag does not meet the actual requirement of ECRs.

There are 12 students in the school today and as per education ministry’s policy, there should be 20 students to open an ECR.

Gup Ugyen Nima, however, said that the number of children would increase in the coming years.

He said they submitted the tentative list of students for next five years. “If the school is not eligible, it should not have been opened in the first place.”

The gup said he was not involved and informed in any meetings related to the school.

It was learnt that the dzongkhag education office compiled the report and sent it to the ministry.

Sources said the ECR is also not located in a proper location.

Meanwhile, Tandingang residents are worried.

A villager, Sherub Lhamo, her children are small and might not be able to cope up in Tang Central School. “If the ECR remains open, it would help our children.”

Some villagers said their children can’t dress up properly.

Another villager, Sonam, said that he was the one who requested for the ECR during the by-election campaign by the PM.

He said he is disheartened to hear that the ECR will be closed next year. “It’s Prime Minister’s gift to us and I don’t understand why the education ministry should close it.”

He said it is common people who will suffer. “We took out our children from Tang Central School to enroll here and again take them back next year.”

Tandingang tshogpa, Tashi Lhendup, said the former education officer and principal of Tang CS visited the site and opened the ECR. “We were informed that there is a budget for the extension of the school.”

He also said there are some ECRs in the gewog with only 15 students. “Tandingang is the only chiwog in the gewog without ECR. The other four chiwogs have ECRs where small children can study as day scholars.”

Edited by Tashi Dema