Beneficiaries of a central school in Tsirang say that the facility should cater to students studying in class VII and above.

A student, who completed his studies at Damphu Central School, said that it is difficult for younger children to take care of themselves in a boarding facility. “They are often neglected.”

He said that although there are caretakers, it is difficult to manage. “Senior students and captains have to shoulder the responsibility, which distracts them from studies.”

Another student added that while parents sent their children to central school because of free facilities, they are unaware of how their children struggle. “Young children come in dirty uniforms and head lice infestation.”

The concerns were raised to the Opposition Leader (OL) Pema Gyamtsho (PhD) during his recent visit to Semjong gewog in Tsirang.

The opposition leader said that the main objective of setting up a central school is to improve the quality of education. “While setting up central schools, the community and extended classrooms are being shut down, which should not be the case.”

He said that shutting down community schools and ECR and sending children to central school will have negative impacts.

Pema Gyamtsho said they raised the issue with the government and they are yet to get a response. “Opposition advised the government to enroll students above class VII in central school and keep other primary and community schools as it is in villages.”

The OL also shared some of the works the opposition carried out during the five-year tenure during his gewog visits.

He explained that opposition’s role is not always to object the decisions and plans the government makes but also to maintain check and balance.

Citing an example of how the opposition reminded the government of the negative impact of an important policy, he said that the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu is stopped from being corporatised.

Pema Gyamtsho said that the corporatisation of the hospital would mean patients having to pay for each hospital visit. “We told the government that our people can’t afford paid health care and it was also against the Constitution.”

Another example he cited was the Bhutan Bangladesh India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement that was recently discussed in Parliament and about its ratification being deferred.

OL said that while regional cooperation is important, the main reason for objecting the government decision to sign the BBIN agreement was because Bhutan is not ready for such an agreement at the moment.

He also added that opposition party is also responsible to support the government in terms of plans and policies that are framed to benefit the public. “In the recent Parliament session, labour ministry requested for an additional budget of Nu 20M to create more employment opportunity. We did not object to it.”

Pema Gyamtsho clarified to the public that opposition is not always strong when it sues the government to court. “Opposition and government should work hand in hand.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang