Lhakpa Quendren

Zhemgang – Sonam Gyeltshen, a dedicated scoutmaster of Buli Central School in Zhemgang, is brimming with renewed enthusiasm as he leads drilling and scout patrolling activities for his fellow participants. His journey in scouting commenced during his primary school days and continues to this day.

Sonam Gyeltshen stands among the 21 scout masters who recently completed a two-day basic unit leader training at Tingtibi Primary School on September 15th and 16th. The training was orchestrated by the Dzongkhag education office with the aim of upholding the fundamental tenets of scouting.

“I’ve been a scout my entire life, but I’ve only been able to provide rudimentary training,” Sonam expressed, lamenting the challenges of their remote location, which hinders access to highly educated resource persons and advanced courses.

Scoutmasters of Zhemgang’s schools attend a refresher course

The refresher course is anticipated to empower the participants in keeping the scouting programme current and aligned with contemporary trends. They also devised plans and activities for the upcoming year.

Sonam Gyeltshen shared that the programme’s objective is to inspire students and raise awareness about future scouting opportunities. “We also invite scouts who have completed the youth leadership scout training at the national level to share their experiences and inspire our younger scouts.”

However, Sonam Gyeltshen noted that despite providing basic leader training to final-year students in Samtse and Paro College of Education, graduates from these institutions seem reluctant to apply their knowledge and skills once assigned to schools.

Rinzin Dorji, the Secretary of the Zhemgang Scout Association, reported a significant increase in student participation in scouting over the years. “It would be beneficial if we could gather at least once or twice a year,” he suggested.

He emphasised the vital role the scouting programme plays in guiding students towards positive behavioural changes and essential life skills. “However, we’ve encountered various challenges that hindered us from fully resuming the scouting programme after the pandemic.”

The refresher course also provided invaluable knowledge to scoutmasters like Thinly Cheki, who are new to the scouting programme, including drills and enthusiastic cheers.

Thinly Cheki, who has taken on the role of Cheychey scout master after her first placement at Tingtibi Primary School, expressed her initial apprehensions, having not participated in scouting during her own school and college days. “I couldn’t initiate any programme due to a lack of knowledge about scouting.”

With the training she received, Thinly Cheki now exudes confidence in her ability to impart these skills, not only to her students but also to all the teachers in the school, as the activities are engaging and interactive. She believes these activities can significantly impact students’ lives through regular practice and encouragement.

The refresher course is expected to revitalise scouting programmes in schools that were unable to remain actively engaged due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Samten, the deputy chief education officer of Zhemgang, stressed the office’s commitment to supporting the programme despite financial constraints. “Our goal is to rejuvenate the scouting programme annually. We cannot skip such an important programme due to budgetary constraints.”

Through this training, scoutmasters are anticipated to apply their newfound knowledge to sustain the scouting programme actively and keep scout members engaged.

“We will involve all primary school students in the scouting programme and ensure their participation,” said Samten. “For example, all the scouts from primary schools in Upper Kheng with fewer students will collaborate to plan affordable programmes based on their abilities.”

Out of over 4,200 students in Zhemgang schools, approximately 90 percent are currently active scout members.