Complaint: Twelve Non-Formal Education (NFE) learners from Satsalu village in Norbugang gewog have submitted a written complaint to their village tshogpa to replace their instructor.

In the complaint submitted two days ago, they stated that they could no longer bear the instructor who uses corporal punishment.

Tshogpa Tashi Wangmo said the learners submitted that they were frequently hit on their heads and punched on their backs. “The learners said if the same instructor continues, the gewog should consider closing the NFE centre, as they will stop attending classes,” she said.

She said this is the second formal complaint received against the instructor besides several verbal complaints.

The learners comprise three men and nine women who are mostly in their mid 40s while the oldest is a 51-year-old woman.

According to the learners, they were made to run around the village in the rain a few months ago when they failed a class test. When the 51-year-old couldn’t keep pace with others, the instructor is alleged to have pushed her causing injury on her knees.

“The gewog officials were informed after which the mangmi and the assistant dungkhag education officer intervened,” the tshogpa said. “The instructor then assured that he would not repeat it again.”

However, the learners informed the tshogpa that the instructor failed to change and often came to class under the influence of alcohol.

The tshogpa said the complaint letter would be submitted to the gup.

Most learners said they had joined the NFE to learn, as they never had the opportunity to study. However, they said the instructor’s behavior made it difficult for them to learn.

“Initially we thought that it was allowed but we learnt that corporal punishment was banned,” one of the learners, Ugyen Wangchuk said.

When they failed the class test, Ugyen Wangchuk said they requested the instructor to make them sing, dance or narrate stories. “But we were made to run,” he said.

The learners also said that the instructor’s drinking habit was a major issue.

Dzongkhag education officer Pema Dorji said that while he is yet to receive a written complaint, he did receive verbal complaints.

“We’re waiting for the written complaint so that we can take action depending on the severity of the case,” he said. “If the allegations are true, we might even expel or transfer the instructor for breaching the contract terms.”

Pema Dorji said that besides schools, the ban on corporal punishment applies to NFE centres as well.

The instructor Jigme Wangchuk refuted all allegations stating that whatever he did was for the learners’ own good.

“They were made to run as suggested by one of them,” he said. “I had just asked them to run around two houses near the class.”

Jigme Wangchuk also denied pushing the 51-year-old woman and said that she fell as the area was damp and slippery because of the rain.

“Had I not been a little strict, the learners might have complained that I’m not teaching them well,” he said. “I never gave them any sort of corporal punishment.”

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar