Yangchen C Rinzin

 The Class XI academic session has long begun. But Dorji, 17, is worried without finding a school to continue.

The Motithang Higher Secondary School (HSS) student with a score of 60 percent wanted to continue in his old school. The school had closed admission after the seats in all the three streams were filled. The school took students above 63 percent based on merit ranking.

Dorji was asked to seek admission in another school as per the national admission process, which is Yangchenphug HSS. However, after spending an entire day, he was not admitted because the seats were filled.

His father, Wangchuk, has been running between schools and the education ministry for the past 13 days trying to seek admission for his son. “Wherever I went, I was told that the ministry would ensure that my son will get admission,” he said.  “We’re still waiting. We didn’t receive any calls on the confirmation even till yesterday evening.”

Like Wangchuk, there are about 40 parents whose children have scored 60 percent to 62 percent but couldn’t find a school in Thimphu.

  Parents alleged, including in social media, that Yangchenphug HSS did not follow the admission process and merit ranking, as other students who scored below 60 percent were admitted.

Some parents claimed that they were told that YHHS is the second option if they cannot make it to MHSS as per the admission process.

“Even if I wanted to enroll my child in private schools, there are no seats available in the particular stream my child prefers,” a parent said. “Instead we’re told our children may have to study outside Thimphu. How can we do that when we live here?”

Some parents also blamed the change in the admission process and said that the government should have kept the same procedure as last year to avoid hassles. Last year, the ministry placed students in both private and government schools.

“The ministry should have first made a projection on how many additional students each school could take in. But they decided to increase the intake in public schools this year and created all the admission hassles.”

However, YHSS management refuted the allegation and said they had strictly followed the merit ranking criteria for each stream as per education ministry’s instruction in January.

The principal said they first admitted students who completed class X from their own school based on merit followed by students sent from feeder schools.

“We placed about 36 students in each section in three streams and all the seats were filled. How can we take additional students when there is no capacity,” the principal said. “Preference was given to feeder schools even if students had low percentage. We also had to take in students whose parents were transferred to Thimphu.”

The hassle, school officials claimed, was due to the cut-off policy where all the children qualified for Class XI. Another reason they gave was the increase in intake of students in public school by the government this year, which lead to the overcrowding of schools and an increase in population of Thimphu.

“We’ve no choice but ask the rest of the students to seek admission in other schools when we’ve admitted as per the ranking and when all seats were filled,” YHSS principal said.

Some principals attributed the hassle to of students’ choice for schools and many schools accepting students from the same school based on ranking.

School like Babesa HSS has only about 10 students in the Science stream. School staff said that those who are still seeking admission are not willing to come to their school.

“Where there are vacant seats, students are not willing to join. We cannot take in students in streams that are already full even if students come with good marks. Thimphu has a handful of high schools and everyone is qualified for government school,” said the staff.

The Thromde, dzongkhag education officers and schools set admission criteria where schools declare their capacity to take in students.

However, admission committee in each school could decide if they should first admit students from their school and then give preference to feeder schools.