Education: It was a moment of celebration for the people of Orong when Orong Higher Secondary School became a central school. But the villagers of Pheluma will not send their children to the central school.

Some 36 villagers from Pheluma have signed a petition and sent to the dzongkhag education sector, pleading the sector not to close the extended classroom (ECR) in Pheluma. The sector has decided to keep the ECR till Class II.

But the ECR is yet to reopen dues to lack of teacher. This has left many parents worried.

Despite free facilities available in the central school, the parents of about 25 students from pre-primary to class three, decided to sign the petition and submit it to the sector on February 10.

Of the 25 students, two are studying in Class III.

Tshogpa Rinzin, who personally submitted the petition, said that the parents decided to submit petition before the start of school so that there won’t be teacher shortage like last year.

Teachers had to take turns to teach at the ECR last year due to teacher shortage. Parents, who are expecting a permanent teacher this year, said that this is affecting academic performance of the students.

Rinzin said that although free facilities in central school, parents are reluctant to send their children to boarding school. Parents say that otherwise the resources will go to waste.

The ECR in Pheluma was first established last year.

“We had put in so much effort building the ECR. If we shut it down, all will go to waste. May be after Class III they can go to Orong,” said a parent.

“May be in the future, but when ECR is available, we want to keep our children with us,” said Rinzin.

Ugyen Penjor, principal of Orong Central School, said that as yet the central has just enough teachers.

“We tried every way to convince the parent about benefits of central school but they are still unwilling to send their children,” he said. The parent have, however, been given the option to send their children to the central school anytime they want.

“We cannot keep teachers at the ECR on rotation basis,” Ugyen Penjor said.

Dzongkhag Education Officer Rinchen Gyeltshen said that a new teacher might join the school soon, who would be sent to the ECR.

“We cannot force the parents since there are more than 10,” said Rinchen Gyeltshen.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar