As days draw nearer to reopening the schools after a very long shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education looks the more confused and ill-prepared. Schools across the nation will open from February 1, barely a week from now, but the ministry’s indecision has left teachers and close to a thousand students in Phuentsholing waiting and frustrated. When the ministry finally comes up with a solution, it will have been too late and have contributed to more hassle.

All these could have been obviated with careful and sensible planning which the ministry has shown it is not capable of, but this manner of incompetency cannot drag on.

What led to the confusion among parents, teachers and students of Phuentsholing schools is that the ministry has said that teachers and students Class VII and above would be transferred to safer dzongkhags but there has not been a clear and decisive order from the ministry. The ministry said that teachers and students would get new placement in schools outside Phuentsholing but they still haven’t. For a wonder and what is deeply worrying is that, as the paper went to press, the ministry also did not have a concrete plan as to how and where classes would be conducted for PP-VI students.

It is hard to grasp the magnitude of such monumental failure. Repercussions will be wide-ranging and far-reaching.

First, now that we are above the coronavirus and have measures in place to deal with positive cases in the communities, we could argue that there is no need for the ministry to transfer teachers and students to other “safer” dzongkhags. If it really intends to take Phuentsholing teachers and students to other schools in the country, why is there a delay? And, second, the arrival of vaccine and rolling out of the programme which is expected to happen soon, will make reopening schools, not only in Phuentsholing but across the country, much less risky.

Disruptions will be unavoidable in such times as we live. Students and teachers aren’t against the ministry’s decision. They are frustrated and worried, rightly so, because school reopening date is nearing and they are left in the limbo.