Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering has asked the education ministry to reconsider its decision on revoking the admission of underage children for this academic session.

The letter sent through the Cabinet Secretary yesterday has directed the ministry to allow the children to continue their education. Admission of 890 underage pre-primary students in public and private schools were revoked in May.

However, the ministry is yet to discuss the letter and would take a few days to come with the decision based on the prime minister’s instruction.

The Prime Minister’s instruction has come following the response submitted by the education ministry on July 1 where it decided to stand by its earlier decision to keep the admission age at six years.

In the third week of June, a letter from the Prime Minster asked the ministry to extend and explore the possibility of reconsidering its decision.  “This was to ensure minimal disruption to the students who have not fulfilled the age requirement,”the letter had stated.

The decision to standby the earlier decision was to uphold the existing policy on the admission age to enroll in grade pre-primary.

Representatives of parents, proprietors and principals of private schools had submitted a petition to the Prime Minister on June 13 appealing the government to regularise the admission of underage pre-primary (PP) students for the 2019 academic session.

The appeal was made after the education ministry in May revoked the admission of 890 PP students (below 5.5 years old) in public and private schools across the country.

The representatives had also appealed the government to set five years (as of March 2019) as entry age for PP.

Underage students are those who have not attained six years, the criteria the ministry prescribes for PP enrollment. The ministry’s earlier decision had meant that the children would have to repeat class PP next year.

Even if the policy could not be changed, they had requested the government to reconsider this year’s enrollment with assurance that from next year, the schools would abide by the rule.

The ministry, taking into account children’s development stages and well being based on global research findings and practices had decided to stand by its earlier decision.

Some parents Kuensel talked to said the ministry could consider the decision this one time because the children are already half way through the academic year and the fees have already been paid.

One of the parents said that if the ministry was to take such decisions then it should have been made before the academic session and not in the middle of the session when a child has already learnt half of the syllabus.

“The one-time consideration we are requesting is for our children and not because we’ve already spent the money. Any amount spent on a child is never a waste but this is affecting my daughter because she is insisting to go to school.”

Few parents said that the ministry should take a prompt decision on the Lyonchhen’s directives so that they can join when the schools reopen after the summer break.

Yangchen C Rinzin