KP Sharma and Sangay Lhamo

Paro College of Education has taken a proactive step to address the pressing issue of boarding facilities shortage faced by its students. 

The college has partnered with Yoezerling School, a private institution, in a public-private collaboration aimed at providing comfortable, secure, and dependable housing options for students. 

This venture, which commenced this month, seeks to ensure that students can focus on their studies and personal growth without the burden of housing challenges.

The scarcity of boarding facilities arose as a consequence of the college’s increased student intake this year. 

Originally designed to accommodate approximately 170 students, the college was compelled to admit an additional 170 students under the government’s scholarship programme aimed to support Arts students adversely affected by sudden policy changes. 

Consequently, the July 2023 cohort has seen a doubling in size from the previous year, creating a logistical conundrum for the college to accommodate everyone within the existing on-campus hostels.

The president of the college, Dorji Thinley, said that over 60 percent of the total students had to seek off-campus accommodations, often renting apartments in Paro. 

The compact size of the college’s campus offer limited residential capacity, prompting the need for a creative solution to cater to the influx of students. 

The institution recognised the particular needs of first and second-year students who recently made the transition from school and required essential social and emotional support. It was, Dorji Thinley said, essential to provide a favourable living and learning environment.

Thus, the college forged a partnership with Yoezerling School to provide top-notch services and educational support to the students. 

The agreement outlines that Yoezerling School will offer shared hostel accommodation, access to sports and recreational facilities, wifi, and social service programmes to 100 students from the July 2023 intake. 

Chencho, principal of Yoezerling School, assured the provision of student service coordinators responsible to oversee the well-being of the students, keep them actively engaged in co-curricular activities, and offer various non-academic services.

To ensure a seamless experience, the college is providing a bus service with scheduled timings aligned to the students’ academic timetable as Yoezerling School is situated about two kilometres away from the college. 

While the exact rent is being finalised, the college’s Dean of Student Affairs, Ngawang Phuntsho, said that it would be deducted from the students’ stipends, similar to the arrangement in the college’s hostel.

Vice Chancellor Nidup Dorji previously emphasised that colleges would not accept additional students unless they meet necessary requirements, including adequate hostel and classroom facilities. 

This partnership between the college and Yoezerling School signifies the potential of public-private collaborations in Bhutan’s education sector. 

By pooling resources and expertise, educational institutions can join forces to address critical challenges and enhance the overall educational experience for students.