As the Covid-19 came blustering, there were many lessons we had to pick up along the way. We did well; we are what we are today because of our well-balanced decisions in challenging times. But what matters most to us must not be relegated to total neglect.
Education has had to go through a very tumultuous run; and now we are looking at some new arrangements that look almost precariously ad-hoc. There was the talk about schools putting up tents to accommodate students. Much to our relief, a week or so later, the ministry came up with the construction of temporary classrooms.
The question is not only about the comfort of the students, but also about the learning environment. When a teacher has to handle a very large number of students, compromises will have to be made. In classrooms, negotiations and concessions can benefit only a select few.
The fault is not entirely the education ministry’s, although it could have prevented itself from falling short. As the academic sessions begin roiling on, the question is how the construction of temporary classrooms is coming up.
Thimphu Thromde is facing huge admission pressure; the reasons mostly are genuine. This year, around 795 students applied online for external transfer; 170 students are being directed from the education ministry, who were mostly students from Phuentsholing. The construction of temporary classrooms, therefore, should begin in earnest.
The schools in Thimphu that will have temporary classrooms are Zilukha Middle Secondary Schools, Loselling MSS, Rinchen Khuenphen Primary School, Jigme Namgyel Lower Secondary School, and Kuenselphodrang Primary School.
Thromde officials have said that the construction of classrooms would be ready in around a month’s time, which should be carried out as swiftly as possible. More important, though, is that we should ensure all the facilities in the temporary classrooms that we give to those students in permanent classrooms.
It is not as if we haven’t had to deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the impact on education will have a serious repercussion because we are talking about the lives of thousands of young people whose future is at stake.