…they are hoping the ministry will reconsider

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

With eight days to start school, many parents and teachers in Phuentsholing are growing anxious as the education ministry delays its decision on the students’ relocation and the transfer of their teachers.

Teachers and parents are frustrated and under tremendous pressure with the time for reporting to school inching closer.

The ministry is yet to officially announce the transfer of about 100 secondary teachers and relocation of 921 Class VII and VIII students out of Phuentsholing.

Both public and private schools across the country will open for Classes Pre-Primary (PP) to VIII for the 2021 academic session from February 1 as scheduled.

However, in Phuentsholing, Classes PP to III will open on February 24, while Classes IV to VI will open on February 15, given school infrastructures used as Covid-19 related activities. Students of Classes VII and VIII will be relocated outside Phuentsholing.

Phuentsholing Thromde education office recently told schools will no longer cater to Classes VII and above and that these students have to wait for directives from the ministry for placement in schools outside Phuentsholing Thromde. 

This applies to those students who have not taken their transfer certificates. Those who drew their certificates have to look for schools on their own.

Although parents are still hesitant to send their children away from Phuentsholing schools, some are now preparing for a possible relocation.

Besides the problem of children being ready and Covid-19 safety uncertainties, transportation is a new challenge.

A parent, Gagan Sharma needs to drop his son, who would be studying in class seven, to a private school in Paro by February 3. He feels it is late already given the quarantine requirements.

“I called 5555. Although they are very open and prompt they are also confused themselves,” he said.

First he was told he can drop his son until Chuzom from where someone from Paro would come and pick. But considering keeping the child under seven days’ quarantine, having someone come from Paro makes no sense as the place is a risky one, he said.

Should parents be allowed to drop the children to the school, Gagan Sharma said they might have to quarantine after returning from Paro.

“Then, we will be 14 days under quarantine,” he said, adding that they are worried about the impact on their livelihood.

“I have been asked to report on February 3 and we have very limited time and there is no clear cut information.”

Many parents Kuensel talked to are hoping the ministry might reverse the decision.

A mother of a 13-year-old boy said that as the government would soon start vaccination, it was better to keep the students in Phuentsholing.

“No place is safer from Covid-19,” she said. “And I cannot keep my son in a hostel due to his illness. Nor do I have any relatives to keep him as a day scholar.”

“Some people say they stayed in hostels in their younger days and endured life. But time has changed and people cannot compare those days to the current ones.”

Meanwhile, Phuentsholing thromde education office stated that they have submitted the list of the teachers and students. They are still waiting for directives.

Teacher transfer 

Most of the teachers have been affected by the news of their transfer. There are about 100 of them.

Last week, when Kuensel reported the issue, teachers shared several issues and concerns. Their frustration continues.

“There are a lot of problems I have to face. I am a single parent,” a teacher said.

The teacher lives in a government quarter and moving out and paying more than Nu 10,000 as rent in a month would be difficult with two children, she said.

Another said all the teachers are “stressed out.”

“There are so many things to do, and we are just waiting for the office order.”

Another said they are asked to report by February 1 and there is limited time. 

“I am very confused.”

The teacher said there were several issues related to the transfer. Teachers are affected in two ways—as a parent and a tenant.

Teachers are worried about shopping for their children, who will also be sent to different schools and a major preparation—both financially and mentally- was necessary.

“And then with limited time, we are worried about our house owners in Phuentsholing,” another teacher said.

“I have paid two months’ advance rent to the owner. As per the agreement, I am supposed to inform them of vacating the house one month ahead. Otherwise, I’ll have to forfeit the advance payment,” she said.

There is also the tension of finding a house in the new place of posting.

Meanwhile, there are rumours that the ministry has withdrawn teachers’ transfer and students’ relocation agenda.

The business community had also highlighted the local economy of the bordering town would be gravely impacted.

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Karma Tshering said that the ministry would announce its decision on the students’ relocation and teacher transfer by tomorrow.