The quality of school infrastructure influences the quality of learning for students. A conducive learning environment is a prerequisite because children spend most of their time in schools.
Tsamang Primary School, which is about 70kms away from Mongar town, has not been able to create an environment that assures learning and well-being of its children.
The school, which faces an acute shortage of water, is lined with broken sewerage pipes and cracked hostel walls. And it has become routine for the boys to pour buckets of water to wash off the spilled sewerage. This is not all.
It has been learnt that the school has been functioning out of a temporary shed made of CGI sheets since the tremor that struck the country seven years ago damaged the school building. With CGI sheets dividing the classes, teaching and learning has become an arduous task.
Our children deserve better learning facilities. With much attention given to central schools and its facilities, our primary schools where children learn the basics may have been neglected. When rebuilding a six-unit school block takes longer than the term of an elected government, we have got our priorities wrong. When the dzongkhag administration does not see the need to allocate maintenance budget to repair broken sewerage pipes that puts the health of students at risk, we have a problem.
The recent annual education statistics point out that low quality schooling is one of the factors influencing primary completion rates. It also claims that while about 84 percent of all schools have sufficient water for drinking, 36 percent of schools do not have sufficient water for cleaning toilets. In spending much time and resources in reforming education and the hype surrounding it, we may have forgotten the importance of meeting a school’s basic needs.
There is enough evidence to show that the quality of education and the students’ learning hinges on the quality of school infrastructure. An overcrowded and stressful environment does not enhance the learning capabilities of children. Our educationists know that a properly planned school infrastructure is key to effective teaching and learning. They know as much that this can also be an encouragement for the teachers. Why then have the ministry and the dzongkhag administration overlooked the plight of this primary school that is home to more a hundred students?
Education is the means to empower our children to become responsible members of a society. Neglecting the children’s need for quality space, one that enables them to learn and be empowered, is irresponsible.