When lockdown ceases

Yangchen C Rinzin

The Ministry of Education has submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister to re-open Classes IX and XI along with Classes X and XII if the pandemic situation improves and the lockdown is lifted.

Education Minister Jai Bir Rai told Kuensel that the proposal was readied before the nationwide lockdown came into force on August 11, as the ministry felt the need for face-face teaching. “But before the ministry could submit the proposal to the government, the nationwide lockdown was declared,” he said.

Classes X and XII were re-opened before the lockdown in July. Regular classes for X and XII have been suspended following a nationwide lockdown on August 11.

The minister said that the ministry is concerned, as the pandemic has affected students. We’re already noticing that closure of schools has impacted students and many students have also started losing interest in studies,” the minister said. “We know that we’re not in a good situation, but we need to make a decision by keeping the virus at bay, as the trend is worrying.”

More than 200 students from Classes X and XII dropped out from school when the schools resumed in July.

Lyonpo said that although it would depend on the decision of the government whether to approve the proposal or not, it was important to continue education. 

“Yes, we need to take Covid-19 seriously, but we can’t keep students out of education. Things may not go back to normal, but education must go on, and by following safety measures, we must look into re-opening of schools.”

Students in Classes IX and XI have to learn the lessons  well to perform in the board examinations. 


Relocation of students from Red Zone

The ministry has also proposed to relocate Classes X and XII students and teachers of Phuentsholing to a safer area to continue education. It is proposed given Phuentsholing remains a red zone.

The proposal also includes re-opening of Classes IX and XI and relocating students of these classes.

“While we understand the situation right now, we cannot keep the rest of the schools closed because of the situation in Phuentsholing,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said the proposal to relocate schools in Phuentsholing would happen if the government decides to re-open other schools. Although the figure of students and teachers was not shared, Lyonpo said that they could be relocated to nearby schools that have classes from PP-VIII and are closed right now.

“This is just a proposal to help students continue education and if approved, we can work further including the help from the health ministry in relocating them,” Lyonpo added. If approved, the relocation would also apply to two private schools in Phuentsholing.

There are one public higher secondary school and two middle secondary schools in Phuentsholing.

Schools in other dzongkhags with similar situations would also be relocated according to the proposal. 

The ministry has also proposed the government to relook into re-opening of ECCDs, Non-Formal Education, Community Learning Centres, and two institutes of deaf and blind if the situation improves.

However, classes for PP-VIII will remain closed for the 2020 academic session.

Meanwhile, the minister said that all the normal teaching for Classes X and XII will remain suspended, as announced earlier while other students would continue learning through online lessons provided through Self Instructional Materials and other online platforms.

Lyonpo said the school administrations cannot conduct normal classes for boarding students who are on the campus right now, as this would be unfair to students who are at home.

“It cannot be possible for teachers to conduct normal classes since some of the teachers are in the campus while some are off-campus,” Lyonpo said. “The school administration can, however, come up with their own ideas to keep boarding students engaged meaningfully.”

Many principals of boarding schools Kuensel talked to said that students are either asked to complete the project works or assignments, read books and are sometimes allowed to watch movies on BBS.