Visit: From relocating their school to collecting dues from a contractor, to establishing a bank in the gewog by the year end and a gewog community centre, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay accepted several requests from the people of Laya gewog in Gasa.

Laya Lower Secondary School (LLSS) was upgraded from a primary school in 2013. Since then villagers have been asking for it to be upgraded to a middle secondary school.

Dzongkhag officials said the former prime minister had agreed to upgrade and relocate the school.

At a meeting on October 12, lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said the school would be relocated to the area dzongkhag administration has identified but only after the gewog is connected with the road.

“Once the road gets here, then the cost of transportation would be cheaper and relocation would not incur so much as it would today,” Lyonchoen said.

However, he shot down the request to upgrade the school to a middle secondary school.

Given the small number of students in the school and the extended classroom in Lungo, he said it was not realistic to upgrade the school.

He said the district has one of the best teacher-student ratios. The school’s ratio is 1:13, much lower than that of the district’s central school, Bjishong Central School at Damji, which has 1:17. The district has a teacher-student ratio of 1:14.

“Even in many developed countries, the ratio is 1:30 students,” Lyonchoen said.

The government bears an annual recurring expenditure of about Nu 52,000 for each student in the school.

A portion of the wall in the school mess has come off and other buildings have been patched with yearly repair.

Officiating principal, Tashi Penjore, said being in a marshy place, the walls freeze in winter and mud mortar at some places gives away in summer when the ice melts causing the wall to collapse. “Every year we keep repairing the walls,” he said.

Teachers said it is risky for the 157 students as the structures are old and fragile.

“We’re scared in case there is a mild earthquake, most of the buildings could collapse,” a teacher said.

The corners of wooden floor have rotten in many places leaving gaping holes. The community built the school some 22 years ago.

Gasa district education officer, Choney Dorji said relocation is listed in the 11th Plan but no instruction or budget has come to date.

“Since Bjishong Middle Secondary School has become a central school, we were thinking of sending the children there,” he said.

The villagers said they were not paid pony charges for carrying construction materials last year for the on- going electrification project in the gewog.

Laya Gup Kinley Dorji said the contractor carrying out the electrification works owe the villagers about Nu 0.4 million.

Lyonchoen asked the gewog administration to collect a list and submit it to him.

He said he would talk to the contractor and make sure the dues are paid.

He said Bhutan Development Bank Limited would open a branch in the gewog towards the end of this year. He urged the community to develop a habit to save their income in a bank and not keep them home.

The gewog would be able to avail government to citizen (G2C) services beginning this December with the establishment of a community centre.

Of the 535 households in the dzongkhag, Laya gewog with five chiwogs (cluster of villages) has 250 households. The community depends largely on cordyceps, livestock and horse for livelihood.

The Prime Minister informed the gathering of the developmental activities both within and outside the 11th Five-Year Plan.

He said the government was making huge investments in the community to make their lives easier.

While it is the government’s duty to build adequate infrastructure for the people, Lyonchoen said it is the responsibility of the people to look after and maintain them.

“You should take care of the human waste too,” the Prime Minister said while talking to the gathering of more than 200 men, women and children.

The gewog has water supply coverage of 97 percent while seven drinking water schemes are in progress.

Meanwhile, one of the two helicopters has been bought and would land in the country in the next three weeks, the Prime Minister said. The other would fly in by May next year.

Lyonchoen also urged the community to dissolve party lines and live in harmony.

Since the gewog does not have any projects with BOiC funding, he said that an official from the centre would come to their gewog towards the end of this year to create awareness and inform on how proposals could be submitted.

“He said given the low interest rates of the centre’s loans, people should take advantage of it and submit proposals,” he said.

Tshering Palden, Laya