Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Lawa-Lamga chiwog in Athang gewog, Wangduephodrang, has 37 households and 35 school-going children.

The chiwog, however, has only three students who have completed class 10 and only one who completed class 12.

In one of Athang’s remotest chiwogs, the nearest school, Singye Namgyal Primary School, which was earlier called as Miktana Community School, is facing difficulty to retain students from the chiwog.

The primary school, which was opened in 2008, caters to children from Rukha and Lawa-Lamga chiwogs.

Today, the primary school has 56 students a decrease from 64 last year.

Records with the school showed that in 2019, there were 73 students, which is also a decrease from 87 in 2018.

According to the school’s officiating principal, Namgay Wangchuk, most of the students left school to become monks in Wangdue and Tsirang.

He said those who become monk are expected to help their parents during annual rituals. “This year, two students, a girl and a boy, joined monastic schools. In 2020, two joined monk and one dropped out.”

Children in the locality go to Samtengang Central School after completing class six. Samtengang is more than 110kms from the village.

Namgay Wangchuk said that teachers visited a nearby village, where there were two children of schoolgoing age. “When we approached the parents, they said they want to enrol them in a monastic school.”

The chiwog tshogpa, Tshering Dorji, said 23 students have left school to become monk until today.

He also said most of them drop out of monastic schools.

There are also others who drop out of school to help their parents at home or have lost interest in education.

Namgay Wangchuk said parents encourage their children to get married to bring more workforce to their home. “I personally think that the parents tend to get influenced by seeing their neighbours with more workforce when their children get married.”

Tshogpa Tshering Dorji said some parents face financial difficulty to send their children to school.

He said that of 35 school-going students in the chiwog, about eight are kidu recipients. “Because of financial issue, many join monkhood. For one child, at least Nu 15,000 is spent every year.”

The expenditure includes paying school fee, buying school dress, travel expenses and allowances.

Today, the school in collaboration with the dzongkhag education officials, has conducted advocacy programmes on the importance of education. Health officials also conducted presentations to discourage early marriage.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Pema is the only student who completed class 12 in the locality.

Completing his studies from Damphu Central School, Pema is waiting to enrol in one of the colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB).

Pema’s father, Cheten Tshering, said that he wants to ensure his son graduates.

He said there is not even a single civil servant from the village.