Thinley Namgay

The government has confirmed that the former Kelki School at Yonphula, Trashigang, will be used as a specialised school to support students who are struggling with substance use-related issues.

During the fourth National Drug Task Force meeting that convened on April 8, the Task Force directed the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) to expedite the establishment of a specialised school at Yonphula by early July 2024.

However, MoESD Minister Yeezang De Thapa, at the meet the press  on April 26, said the ministry would not be able to confirm whether the specialised school would commence on the scheduled dateline. “It may take a few months.”

Minister Yeezang De Thapa said the ministry had started the work but there was much to do.

MoESD plans to re-purpose the existing infrastructure at the campus.

The Minister said there was a need for major renovation. A team was sent to Yonphula, and they are working on it.

“The Ministry will expedite the works as early as possible,” the minister said.

Regarding the curriculum for the students at the specialised school, the minister said it would be similar to that of any public school. However, she clarified that this rehab school would not function as a full-time school.

The idea of the MoESD is to keep the substance abuse students at the rehab school by providing medication and teaching at the same time. After the treatment, students will be sent back to their former school.

Routine health checkups will be carried out from classes seven and above in the schools. If found using drugs, these students will be taken to specialised school.

The government acquired Kelki School for nearly Nu 160 million (M) and repurposed it into a Covid hospital. The Ministry of Health invested nearly Nu 8M in constructing an approach road, maintaining toilets, installing electrical fittings, and ensuring water supply when the site was designated a Covid hospital in the east.

After being used as the Covid hospital, the school remained idle without any care.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that as a developing country, it is not practical to keep any public or private infrastructure in such a distressing condition.

He said that the specialised school would be a priority of the government, and it would be refurbished and completed as soon as possible.