This was revealed in a report on the National Reading Year that was launched last week alongside the One-Teacher-One-Child initiative report

Education: Umish Yakha, a student of Changzamtog Lower Secondary School (CZLSS) in Thimphu was forsaken by his parents.

The 17-year-old boy who was living in a hut in Jungshina in Thimphu was taken under the guardianship of Khandu Wangmo, a teacher at CZLSS. This became possible after the One-Teacher-One-Child programme began, an idea proposed by Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay last year.

The story of Umish was told to Kuensel by one of his teachers when the Prime Minister launched the National Reading Year 2015 report and One-Teacher-One-Child initiative coinciding with His Royal Highness The Gyalsey turning a month-old on March 5 at the Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School.

According to teachers, Umish after the separation of his parents was left devastated and had lost interest in studies. “Academically he was a good student but because of his family issues he was disturbed mentally and his behaviours was deteriorating,” said one of the teachers of CZLSS.

Umish had lost all hopes and had decided to leave the school by mid last year. The school management after failing to find the boy in the school reported the case to the police. After days of searching, teachers and students found Umish wandering the city bus parking in Thimphu.

He was encouraged to go back to school by the school management and Khandu Wangmo his guardian. Khandu Wangmo took all the necessary actions that were needed to help the young boy get back to school and continue with his life. “He was morally down and he had lost all hopes,” said Khandu Wangmo. “Somehow we managed to convince him to join the school again and today I’m proud to say that Umish is improving and doing well both academically and in behaviour as well.”

Khandu Wangmo helped get back Umish his old life back. Throughout the academic year last year, Umish’s tiffin, uniforms and other necessities were all taken care of by Khandu Wangmo.

However, Khandu Wangmo has one last hurdle to cross and that is to admit Umish into a boarding school for him to continue his education without any problems. Khandu Wangmo has been tirelessly trying to admit Umish into Wangbama Central School in Thimphu. “The seats are almost full there but I’m still trying to admit him there so that he gets a proper education without the problem of fooding and lodging,” said Khandu Wangmo. “If we are not successful there, I’ll then have to admit him to Zilukha MSS.”

Currently Umish is living in his hut at Jungshina. According to Khandu Wangmo since the boy is not able to pay his rent, the owner of the hut is allowing him to stay there for free and is also providing him with the required fooding.

The One-Teacher-One-Child programme is an initiative to provide quality education and ensure that every child in the school receives the same degree of care and attention from the teachers irrespective of the backgrounds.

According to the department of school education’s Director General, Karma Yeshey, under the initiative each teacher takes up guardianship of one or more students and supports them in academic improvement and behavioural change, among others, during their stay in the school.

Like Umish Yakha, the initiative has benefitted a total of 4,447 students under the guardianship of 2,668 teachers across the country.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also launched the report on the National Reading Year 2015. A total of 2.5 million books were read by teachers, students and school staff from February to November 2015.  Of the total figure, 2.4 million books were read by students all over the country while teachers and other school staff read 97,755 books. Each student read an average of 15 books in the 10 months.

With 76,452 books read by students, teachers and staffs, Zilnon Namgyelling Primary School of Thimphu recorded the highest numbers of books read in the Reading Year last year.  Changzamtog Lower Secondary School registered the second highest number of 52,403 books followed by Jigme Namgyel Lower Secondary School of Thimphu Thromde with 46,992 read books.

Sanjay Zam, a class four student of Drugyel Lower Secondary School of Paro read the maximum number of books with 2,125 followed by Sonam Thai Choden also a fourth grader of Chumey Middle Secondary School of Bumthang with 808 books.

With 24,498 students and 1,296 teachers and staff, Thimphu Thromde recorded the highest number of books read at 411,931. With 209,603 books, Paro registered the second highest books read by 9,158 students and 697 teachers and staff.

According to officials, rolling trophies, prizes and certificates will be awarded to schools who have read the maximum number of books.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that the reading year was a big success and he urged all the students to continue the good habit of reading books. The coordinator of the programme, Sangay Tshering, said that the reading programme will be an annual activity in every school to promote and encourage reading amongst students and teachers alike.

Several other activities were also organized to mark the National Reading Year that was launched by His Majesty The King at Tendrel Thang, Tashichhozdong in Thimphu on December 9, 2014. The initiative was launched to commemorate the 60th Birth Anniversary of The Fourth Druk Gyalpo.

Younten Tshedup