Support staff, including a sweeper, teach students

Phub Dem | Haa

Without a formal teacher for the last four months, an early childhood care and development (ECCD) facilitator and a non-formal education (NFE) instructor are teaching 33 students of Bebji extended classroom (ECR) in Sombaykha.

The only teacher in the ECR was transferred at the beginning of this academic year.

The dzongkhag education sector made a temporary arrangement by asking the ECCD facilitator and the NFE instructor to keep the students engaged.

Without formal training in teaching, the two could only engage the students in non-academic activities.

Bebji ECR was constructed in 2012 through the Bebji rehabilitation project, a part of the National Rehabilitation programme initiated to eradicate poverty and improve the livelihoods of landless and underprivileged people in the locality.

Binu Rai teaches Class I students in Sertena PS

The ECCD facilitator, Pema Choki, said the ECCD centre was still under construction and she could handle the new responsibility. “But the NFE instructor has a hectic schedule.”

She said that without formal teaching, parents were worried about their teaching but are still sending their children to school, as the school provides free breakfast and lunch. “Two students left the ECR to join other schools.”

Without proper infrastructure in place, Pema Choki said that many teachers refused to stay in remote places. “Forget about the new normal curriculum, the students could not learn anything in this academic year until now.”

She said more students would enrol from the neighbouring villages if the ECR has regular teachers and proper infrastructure.

The issue is not isolated to Bebji.

In remote Sertena School in Gakiling gewog, there is only one teacher to teach from classes PP to VI.

According to the teacher, Tshering Jamtsho, while the school only has 29 students, he also has to look after the issues of boarding students.

As a temporary measure, the school’s cleaner, who completed class 10, teaches class PP to I, and Tshering Jamtsho’s wife, who completed class 12, teach students of class II and III.

Tshering Jamtsho said he had been managing and teaching students of class III to VI. “It is difficult. There should be at least three regular teachers in Sertena.”

He said that multigrade teaching was difficult.

Parents have raised the concern to the local leaders.

Gakiling gup Gashey raised the issue during the Haa dzongkhag tshogdu requesting for immediate intervention.

The chief dzongkhag education officer, Tempa, said there was a shortage of teachers in every school due to the delayed Royal Civil Service Examination. “There is a shortage of 40 teachers in Haa.”

He, however, said Bebji and Sertena would have regular teachers by July. “Sertena will have one additional teacher, and Bebji will receive two teachers.”

The DEO also proposed to close down the school, reasoning that schools with less students do not get  better facilities and human resources.

Haa’s National Council representative, Ugyen Namgay, said that Sombaykha was the only constituency without a lower secondary school.

He suggested closing smaller schools and constructing a quality middle secondary school in the drungkhag. “There is no shortage of students. Local students are enrolling in other schools desiring a quality education.