Education: The Tendu Central School (TCS) campus is moist from last night’s rain. Students have completed their first mid-term paper.

Some children go home while some return to their respective hostels.

But there is a problem of lack of hostel facilities in TCS.

About a kilometre from the campus is a small settlement. There, about 25 students live in huts paying rent.

A class-four student, Bimla Gurung, lives in one of the huts. Wearing an oversized summer jacket over a pink skirt, the 10-year-old is laying there like a sick child. She’s got a mobile phone in her hands.

“I stay with my elder sister and grandmother,” Bimla Gurung says hesitantly.

Bimla Gurung’s elder sister, Monica Gurung, 14 is  in class V in the Central School. The sisters are from Kachin, Samtse.

The sisters say they like living in the settlement adding that they decided not to stay in school’s hostel.

On the wall of the room are pasted newspapers. A windstorm, even a slight one, could blow everything away.

The hut has a mud floor and the sisters pay Nu 7,000 per year for rent. Their grandmother cooks for them.

Arpana Gurung, 16, has also lives in a rented hut.  Arpana pays Nu 12,000 annually as rent.

In this small settlement, students have just one toilet. Although water is available only twice a day, students said they have been able to manage. When there is no electricity, they use flashlights and candles to study and to do other households chores.

Meanwhile, there are 1,818 students in TCS, out of which 46 percent of students are day scholars. Only 475 are in hostels, which means more than 450 students are day scholars.

TCS management has initiated the School Support Services and its committee members are actively surveying day scholar students living outside hostel. The committee has recommended that students with poor financial support get priority for boarding facilities.

The school also provides day meals to the students, which according to the principal, has immensely helped the day scholar students.

Although the school did not share details, schools with students living outside campus face attendance problems, some locals said. However, the Central School has a full-time counsellor, who according to principal Sangay Drukpa remains occupied most of the time counselling the students so that attendance problems do not arise.

A shopkeeper in the town, Kishore Gurung, said that he has not seen students creating problems in the town.

As TCS is the only higher secondary school in Samtse that provides boarding facilities, it gets many students from different schools across the dzongkhag.

Sangay Drukpa said that the government has been “very supportive” to the school. “We have been given everything we have proposed for.”

TCS today has four hostels.

Rajesh Rai | Tendu