The central school system debate is welcome. Such a debate must be seen as required for a successful implementation of the policy. If the policy is to succeed, authorities concerned should lend their ears to the concerns raised about the deteriorating conditions in some of the central schools.

One of the biggest advantages of a central school system is the enormous potential it has for national integration. As a nation with diverse ethnic groups and dialects, boarding central schools could help us build a more harmonious society.

People of older generations still talk about what boarding central schools gave them. Besides richness of friends from various regions of the country, they were taught to be responsible and independent. The experiences they gained prepared them for life after school.

Most of the current senior officials in the government, corporate, and private sectors are the products of the erstwhile central schools of Paro, Yangchenphu, Khaling, Punakha, Samtse, Sarbang and Zhemgang. A national education policy required these schools to enroll a number of students from different parts of the country every year, providing an opportunity for cross-fertilisation of our various cultures, traditions and languages, among others.

Putting the debate in the right perspective, we need to ask if boarding central school be solution to the ever-growing youth-related issues. It certainly has the potential to create responsible and good citizens if planned and implemented well. Our youth are less resilient today. While some are overprotected by parents, others do not receive guidance and affection from their parents and elders. They have ample free time between home and school. Therefore, a central school with fewer distractions, vigilant school staff and fellow students may make them more responsible, self-reliant and confident to face their future.

Perhaps our focus today should be on improving the quality of central schools rather than increasing the numbers. As responsible citizens, it is incumbent on us to develop a sound education system.

We may do well right to reflect on His Majesty The King’s vision for the future of this country: “I have always believed that a nation’s future is mirrored in the quality of her youth and that it is the government’s sacred duty to provide a good education and a conducive environment for you to become strong, capable leaders for the future.”