Nima | Gelephu

Community members in Samkhar village of Jigmecholing gewog, Sarpang, came together and contributed some money voluntarily to pay the salary of a cook for two months in Samkhar extended classroom (ECR) this year.

Parents of students contributed Nu 250 a child to pay salary for a cook deployed temporarily for March and April.

The ECR is identified for the day feeding school but did not have a cook for two months. A cook was deployed recently.

The day feeding programme, according to the teachers, improved the attendance of children in the school.

Samkhar tshogpa, Neten, said that parents agreed to support the school by paying the cook’s salary, as the government supported the day feeding programme.

“It was difficult for the school to get the required facilities on time. We come together and support the school. We discussed with parents and decided to find a cook for the school,” he said.

The tshogpa said they requested for a school in their village and contributed in construction of basic structures. “The government helped us with CGI sheets.”

He said people from Samkhar contributed Nu 1,000 each three times and Nu 2,500 once to construct a classroom and dining hall for the ECR (all temporary structures) when the school started in 2010.

Neten said the school is in a good condition now.  “It was important that we support the school for our children.”

A teacher at the ECR, Sherub Tshomo, said it was important to have a school in Samkhar, as it was challenging for parents to send their children to central school at a young age.

“They don’t get required care and they can’t take care of themselves. Teachers don’t get time to look after young children. It’s important that we keep schools in remote areas,” she said

The nearest school for the children from Samkhar is Jigmecholing Middle Secondary School, which is over 10km away from Samkhar ECR.

“There is no public transport available for the students to travel. Walking on foot during monsoon is risky. The expenses for the children are high. They have to pay extra taxi fares,” another teacher, Ugyen Loday, said.

The community also helped the school built many structures like classrooms and dining hall before the gewog constructed a new classroom unit. They also helped the teachers repair chairs and tables recently.

“We try to come up with a solution together. They helped with fencing works and minor carpentry works,” Ugyen Loday said.

Sherub Tshomo said that it was important to provide additional teachers and staff, a caretaker, and a cook for the school to function properly.

“As per the policy, the ECR won’t get an additional teacher. But, if we are to impart quality education, we need one teacher for one subject at least. Instead of teaching them together, it would better if we could teach them in different classes,” she said.

She added that looking after the school and teaching with only a limited staff in the school was challenging.

Meanwhile, with the school mandated to come up with 21st-century teaching practices, teachers in Samkhar ECR are worried if it could be implemented as expected.

There are no required facilities to take classes that are recommended for the children.