Thinley Namgay

Up on the hills of Phajoding, English is made a mandatory subject for the monks studying in Phajoding monastery. The monks were allotted one to two hours every day to learn English besides religious studies.

However, the monastery did not have an English teacher this year and volunteers taught the monks occasionally. The monks also do not have adequate English learning materials.

The principal, Namgay Tenzin, said they had an English teacher until last year but the government discontinued the programme from this year.

As of today, the principal teaches English to class PP and I. Some monks who are good in English teach other monks.

The Ministry of Labour and Human Resources (MoLHR) planned to recruit 200 English teachers for dratshang, monastic institutions and monasteries in the country in 2017-18 fiscal year through the direct employment scheme (DES) for two years.

A senior programme officer, Chimi Rinzin, said that 65 monastic schools and dratshang requested for English teachers and the ministry had recruited 130 class XII and university graduates in various monastic schools.

He explained that since the DES programme was initiated in 11th Plan, it got discontinued in the 12th Plan, which is why the English teachers for monastic schools and dratshang had to be discontinued.

Chimi Rinzin said that MoLHR is taking initiatives to resolve the issue. “There is a new programme called ‘The Youth Engagement and Livelihood Programme’ in the 12th Plan where the ministry could support the English teachers if the requirement in dratshang and monastic institutions are severe. “But the monastic institutions and dratsangs have to bear a certain cost.”

Meanwhile, Phajoding has 80 monks studying in the monastery.

A monk, Sonam Yoezer, 18, said it is difficult to learn English without teachers.

He said he did his English examination and the questions were tough as it was based on English syllabus of schools.

A tourist from Philippines, Gab Robles, 23, volunteered to teach the monks for a day during her recent weeklong tour in Bhutan earlier this month.