To encourage and allow students from Laya to complete basic education, the Laya Lower secondary school (LSS) will be upgraded to a middle secondary school in the 12th Plan.
Starting this academic session, the school will also receive central school facilities.
According to dzongkhag education officer Sherab Gyeltshen, the move is to make education attractive, affordable, and retain students.
Despite the change and development in Laya, the trend of students dropping out of school without completing basic education remains a challenge for the community. Since the establishment of a school in 1997 with 65 students, Laya LSS saw the highest dropouts of 11 in 2015.
Sherab Gyeltshen said that the drop out scenario in Laya has improved. “The up-gradation would enable students to complete basic education in their locality since they do not show interest to continue their studies in Bjishong Central School (CS).”
Construction activities of the school up-gradation are expected to begin by the 2018- 2019 fiscal year.
A class nine dropout, Tenzin Drukpa from Laya said that a lower secondary school would be better for the community. “Studying higher classes in a remote location without any exposure and co-curricular experiences would have an impact on the learning competency of students. It would be difficult for students from remote school to perform at par with students in urban areas,” he said.
He said that the tradition of the eldest son taking over the responsibility as the head of household still exists and this compels male students to drop school. “The eldest son or a son from the family has to support the aging parents. Daughters leave home after marriage,” Tenzin Drukpa said.
In 2016 and 2017, there were 17 students who completed Laya LSS and were enrolled in Bjishong CS. However, three students dropped school after midterm break.
Principal of Bjishong CS, Karma Sangay, said that most students of Laya leave school after midterm, a trend they have observed since 2012. “There is not much pressure from parents but students are not interested in studies,” he said. “They could be influenced by the lifestyle of the community where men enjoy a much more comfortable life back home.”
To help students from Laya perform better, the central school has started remedial classes and orientations to help them realise the importance of education.
He added that up-gradation of school would change the dropout scenario and help students complete basic education.
With Laya residents on the way back home after spending more than two months in the low lands of Punakha and Gasa, Laya LSS resumed its academic session in March. The school closes before the fall of winter in November. Opening school earlier is a challenge with the weather conditions and transmigration practices.
Laya gewog’s mangmi, Tshewang said that the school if upgraded would be accessible to students from Lunana, Soe, and Lingzhi.
“But the performances of students may not be at par with those students studying at the lower altitude because we have less study time,” he said. “It would also depend on resource and expertise available.”
He added that the age-old tradition of keeping the eldest son at home is no more practiced. “Now, those who are not good in studies are kept at home. They pick up porter services and other businesses.”
Laya LSS’s principal Khedrup La said that many students choose to stay home, as the central school is located far from Laya. “It’s not because their parents can’t afford. Most children and parents lack the willingness to support education. They don’t feel happy and secure to send children to far places,” he said.
Sherab Gyeltshen said that there was no research conducted to study the dropout scenario to date and that various educational activities initiated in the school helped improve the dropout scenario. “Parents are included in school activities and in decision making,” he said.
With the residents of Laya on the way from their summer residents, the admissions for the class PP remains open to date. Laya LSS has 129 students today.
Nima | Laya