Twenty-nine women in Darla, Chukha, come together every evening. They are housewives, farmers and day labourers.
The women are learning non-formal education (NFE) centre, which started few months ago after it was stopped for four years.
The NFE class starts at 5pm and stretches until 8:30pm.
The oldest learner is Maya Pradhan, 59, from Darla. She joined the class on November 20.
As a novice, she is struggling to hold the pencil and write something but she is proud of her growing ability to write the Dzongkha alphabets.
“Everyone is educated these days,” she said. “It is difficult when we don’t know how to read and write.”
Maya Pradhan says she joined the NFE to read and write Dzongkha so that she could read scriptures during moenlam chenmo.
As a demonstration, she memorised the Dzongkha alphabets until the eighth letter. “Learning is so much fun.”
Another learner is Deo Maya Samal, 55. She works as a day labourer in the Bhutan Board Products Limited (BBPL) in Darla. “I feel happy learning how to write the letters.”
She said her five children are educated and working in different places across the country. “After learning Dzongkha, I want to learn English too.”
The youngest at the NFE centre is Pem, 27. She is from Geling in Chukha but settled in Darla.
The mother of two said her parents could not enrol her in school because of financial problems. “But I always wanted to read and write.”
The NFE instructor, Nakum, is a class X graduate.
She said while some learners learn fast, others take time.
Nakum said that she has to teach some students to write by holding and guiding their hand movements.
She said that while the students would first be taught to read and write Dzongkha, English would be taught to those interested.
The current course is a basic literacy course (BLC), which will be for 18 months. A post-literacy course would also be introduced to those who wish to continue after the completion of BLC.
Darla gup, Mil Kumar Mongar, said that the NFE centre was closed in 2013 when the number of students became less. “The school and gewog prioritised reopening the centre so that people could learn.”
He said that the gewog created awareness on its importance. “All people should at least know how to sign on legal stamps and other documents.”
Rajesh Rai | Darla