Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Residents of Nganglam in Pemagatshel have hired a bus to drop their children studying in pre-primary (PP) at Gashari Primary School in Norbugang gewog this year.

This is because Nganglam Middle Secondary School refused to enrol children aged five this year.

Gashari Primary School is 12km away from Tshenkari in Nganglam and there are about 49 children from Nganglam and Tshenkari studying in the school.

A parent, Rinchen Lhamo, 30, said Nganglam MSS enrolled only children above six years and didn’t take children aged five, stating that the school has a shortage of classrooms this year.

She said that she admitted her son at Gashari Primary School as it would be late because her son turns seven next year. “We don’t know why Nganglam MSS takes only limited students in PP.”

When the parents did not hire a bus, they had to spend about Nu 500 every day, dropping and picking their children.

Rinchen Lhamo said that they were not sure if they would be able to transfer their children to Nganglam MSS or let them continue in Gashari Pry School next year. “Gashari Primary School management told us that we should keep our children there for three years.”

Another parent, Deki Wangmo, 34, said sending children to Gashari is a problem for both parents and children. “Children have to wake up early in the morning and we have to drop and pick them.”

She said they hired a bus for the children because the parents who do not have their own vehicle face problems in dropping and picking up their children.

Parents pay Nu 1,250 for a child for the bus service and salary of the driver.

Deki Wangmo said they are expecting Nganglam MSS management to enrol their children next year.

Few parents said they stopped sending their children so that they could continue in PP next year at Nganglam MSS.

“We don’t understand why Nganglam MSS is not enrolling children as per the education policy,” a parent said.

Parents said they arranged a bus this year, as the bus was idle since travelling via Indian highway was not allowed because of the pandemic.

They are worried they might not get the bus as the owner would resume transportation service if the situation improves.

A parent, Jigme, said they pay Nu 30,000 for the bus and Nu 12,000 for the driver a month excluding the fuel and maintenance charges. “We spend about Nu 14,000 a month on fueling. It would help us if the school would construct additional classrooms.”

Nganglam MSS Principal, Nidup Tshering, said the school could not take new admission for the children aged five because they had to accommodate two sections of class X this year. “We faced classroom shortages.”

He said the school management had converted two units of girls hostel into classrooms to accommodate class X because the school has only about 29 classrooms for classes PP to X with 31 sections at the moment.

“Although we are planning to construct temporary classrooms with support from parents, the schools had also requested the dzongkhag education sector to reconsider and start the construction of six-unit classrooms immediately,” the principal said.

Nidup Tshering said there would be more challenges and pressure for the new admission next year and the school wouldn’t be able to take up the new admission for the children above five years if the education sector could not reconsider the six-unit classrooms.

Meanwhile, according to the officials from the dzongkhag education sector, it would be impossible to construct the six-unit classrooms as they do not have the budget this time.

Officials said they are trying to avail budget.

Edited by Tashi Dema