Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

After almost six months of learning at home, students from Class PP to VI in Phuentsholing returned to school yesterday.

Although the lockdown was lifted on August 10, these students continued their lessons through online classes.

Students of classes VII to VIII returned to schools on September 13, around a month after Class IX to XII students were relocated to Punakha.

There are now about 2,500 students from class PP to VIII in four schools in Phuentsholing.

Parents say seeing their children back to school after such a long time was uplifting.

A 31-year-old mother, Tshering Chenzom ,said online classes were difficult. Her daughter spent most of the time watching television.

“I don’t think parents can teach as teachers do. Children don’t listen to us. School is better,” she said. “Today, my daughter was excited to go to school.”

Tshering Chenzom also said that online classes had become an expensive affair because of the internet charges.

Another parent, Yaad Bdr Ghalley, said he enrolled his son, a Class PP student, in a tuition class.

“Internet data and tuition costs were a burden,” he said. “The last five months were a tough time.”

Another parent, Migma Tshering, said there is a vast difference between online classes and contact teaching.

“For a middle-class family, it was difficult to afford internet data,” he said.

Migma Tshering said it was difficult to groom children at home. While learning online, children spend most of their time using mobile phones, which is unhealthy.

“I feel light today, sending my two children to school,” he said.

A teacher with Sonamgang MSS, Pema Chhoki, said everybody seems to be excited to be back to school after a long break.

“Children were excited. We did ask a few students at the gate. They said they are very happy,” she said.

Unlike before the lockdown, Class PP to VI students will also have classes on Saturdays.

Although online classes were a new teaching method, which had been applied due to the repeated lockdowns in Phuentsholing, the Ministry of Education (MoE) also trained teachers on Learning Management System (online lessons), and classes had improved this year, compared to 2020. However, there were many challenges students, teachers, and parents faced.

Many did not have smartphones. Some parents were uneducated and couldn’t teach. There were also cases where students who didn’t do well in classes performed exceedingly well. Many teachers wondered if parents had done their children’s online assignments for them.

Meanwhile, on October 3, a total of 84 samples collected from the flu clinics and quarantine facilities in Phuentsholing all tested negative.

It has now been 53 days since Phuentsholing has been seemingly free of any Covid-19 cases from the community since the last case detected on August 12. Samples received from Samtse and Lhamoidzingkha also tested negative.

Edited by Tshering Palden