… parents serve free meals for the class 

Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha 

With his tiny fingers holding a pencil, a Class PP student of Laptsakha Primary School (LPS) in Talo, Punakha is learning to write alphabets. He struggles.

His teacher, Khandu Wangmo, approaches to help. She wraps her right arm around him and guides him to correctly write the first alphabet.

Three weeks ago, classes were online and the student struggled with his lessons in the absence of such interactions. Most students were left at home, alone to follow lessons on television (TV) and radio.

 Nine teachers of Laptsakha PS in Punakha visit four locations every two days to continue lessons for 104 students of the school

Nine teachers of Laptsakha PS in Punakha visit four locations every two days to continue lessons for 104 students of the school

However, since LPS teachers took mobile teaching upon themselves on July 13, the situation has improved. Teachers move in groups to designated places on Mondays and Wednesdays. The four-hour classes begin at 9am.

Students are taught in a dratshang hall, gewog centre hall, and a structure offered by a farmer at Talo.

Mobile teaching would continue until late November.

According to Principal Kinzang Wangchuk, mobile teaching was introduced with the aim to leave no student behind.

“We were not satisfied. We also aimed at reducing the parent’s expenses on online (Internet charges) teaching.”

Today, the school’s nine teachers divide themselves into groups and visit four strategic locations selected by the school: Talo, Nalanda, Laptsakha and the Talo gewog centre office. The school has 104 students.

A teacher at LPS, Pema Deki said although a few students seemed to have been taking online classes, others were out of the touch.

“We dictated when the classes began and we saw that they wrote wrong answers. Others were asking friends,” another teacher, Rinzin Lhamo said.

In Talo gewog, mobile phone networks and television lines are weak.

Although many families in the gewog have access to television, teachers are skeptical of the guidance the students receive from the parents.

Teachers pointed out that with mobile teaching, 100 percent attendance was ensured.

“For young students, being with them makes it easy and helpful to guide them,”  Khandu Wangmo said.

Prior to the introduction of mobile teaching, the school also consulted parents and dzongkhag officials. Strategic class locations with access to water and a clean environment were selected.

Principal Kinzang Wangchuk said that parents were supportive of the initiative.

Yesterday, parents of five students came together to treat the 23 students and the three teachers taking classes at the Talo gewog centre hall.

In Talo, a taxi driver (parent to a child) offers free rides for teachers to reach their stations. For other teachers without a vehicle, the principal uses his car for drop and pick up.