Education: Samdrupjongkhar may not achieve its target of achieving an adult literacy rate of 80 percent in the 11th Plan unless local government officials encourage people to enrol in non-formal education (NFE). Adult literacy covers the ages between 15-65.

The adult literacy rate currently stands at 61 percent.

Samdrupjongkhar’s Dzongkhag Education Officer (DEO), Rinchen Gyeltshen raised the issue during the recent dzongkhag tshogdu and said this should be treated as a concern. The DEO added that by the end of the 11th Plan, the dzongkhag should meet the target of 1,500 NFE learners.

“But this is a concern since not many are coming forward to study and even if they do, many leave before the completion of the course and ultimately we have to close down the NFE centres,” Rinchen Gyeltshen said. “This is why we need collaboration from gups to convince people to complete the course and propose for the NFE centre.”

The DEO said as per the current status, a total of 1,280 have completed the NFE in 11 gewogs from 2013 to 2015 and as per the plan, the target is 1,350 for this year, which means at least 70 more learners should come forward this year.

There are currently 30 NFE centres except in the gewogs of Lauri and Samrang with at least 20 or less learners in each centre. He said if this trend keeps increasing then all the centres might close down and the target may not be achieved.

NFE learners are trained on basic literacy and post literacy.

However, the centres are yet to enrol new NFE learners for this year, which will start from June and the DEO has urged gups to look for learners to meet the target.

“Most of them reason they don’t have time to study,” Rinchen Gyeltshen said. “A person who can speak, read and write in Dzongkha is considered literate so if they leave in the middle it won’t be considered as literate, which is why it is difficult to achieve the target.”

The DEO added to encourage the learners or to meet the target, the gewog can propose for an NFE centre even if there are less than 10 learners because as per policy, there should be more than 10 learners to be eligible for an NFE centre.

“They can decide on the time, days and hours depending on their convenience but at least two hours is a must,” Rinchen Gyeltshen said. “As long as they propose for the NFE centres, we would definitely provide the instructor as recruitment is not an issue.”

He added the main objective is to decrease the illiterate population, which will be possible only if there are learners.

However, the local leaders have agreed to collaborate and look for learners in the gewogs. The DT chairman said they would inform the DEO shortly.

“We’re hoping there will be learners this time, otherwise, it would be impossible to meet the target,” Rinchen Gyeltshen said.

Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar