Choki Wangmo 

Prime Minister’s Office wrote to the education ministry yesterday telling them to start work on bringing down the admission age to five years beginning this academic session.

Despite hassle on the admission age, last month, Lyonchhen said the government was looking into the policy on the age criteria for admission into pre-primary (PP) to ensure that the age aligned with the National Service (Gyalsung) that would be instituted by 2022.

According to the annual education statistics 2018, enrolment in primary education was 92,298, out of which 63.4 percent enrolled at the right age (six years old) of primary education, while 3.4 percent were under-aged.

Underage students are those who have not attained six years, as per the ministry’s criteria for PP enrolment.

Last year, upon Prime Minister’s request, admission of 890 underage pre-primary students (below 5.5 years) in public and private schools across the country was reconsidered by the ministry.

Meanwhile, many social media users appreciated the move and some are awaiting timely enforcement of the policy. One woman on Facebook wrote: “I am excited and thankful to the government for this decision. 

I am waiting for the ministry to circulate the letter to individual schools so that we can start processing the admission for kids as admission to school has been closed.”

However, a number of them raised concerns about the limited infrastructure to accommodate the students.

Another user noted that the young students won’t be able to handle the burden of learning at an early age. Some parents said that the decision caused inconvenience to them as they had already registered their children in the early learning centres. “We have paid the fees, even.”

“I just hope that the decision is not to derive short term political gains but would have tangible benefits for the individuals and the education system,” a Facebook user wrote.

The officials from the education ministry were not available for comments.