Nima | Gelephu
Retey Primary School in Jigemcholing, Sarpang has been helping the children from Retey fulfil their dreams of going to school.
The school was started using outreach clinic with the help of a non-formal education teacher in 2002.
Retey is largely a Monpa community. The village got electricity connections in 2017. Roads reached the village in early 2020. Infrastructural development followed.
Bal Bdr Monger, from Retey, said that most families in the village struggled to send their children to schools. “Schools are too far and so, expensive for most families. Today, children in the village can go to school without having to worry about such issues.”
The school’s principal, Dorji Gyeltshen, said that the students from Retey walked until Korphu (more than 6 hours away from Retey), and had to go to other dzongkhags for education in the past.
“Such services are important here,” he said.
Children from Retey would have to walk until Gakiling if the school was not started here.
“It is difficult and risky in summer, having to cross swollen streams,” said Dorji Gyeltshen.
The school involves parents in important school functions and work together with the school administration in summer to build temporary bridges for the students from the nearby village.
The school, in a way, has helped children stay attached to their local traditions and culture.
“If the children are sent to town, our culture, and tradition, an important identity would be lost,” said Dorji Gyeltshen.
The school, though, doesn’t have enough teachers. Multi-grade teaching is being followed to address the teacher shortage.
A teacher takes at least 32 classes in a week. Class PP and I students learn together and, likewise students of Classes II and III, IV, V, and VI.
The school is expected to receive two additional teachers in June, according to Dorji Gyeltshen.
In extreme cases, a teacher must handle Classes PP to III together.
Dorji Gyeltshen said that the school received support from the gewog and the dzongkhag administrations.
There are 47 students in school today, all from Retey and nearby villages.