Phurpa Lhamo  

To avoid quarantine and ensure safety among students, those stranded in other dzongkhags will take their board examinations at the nearest school instead of their schools.

The education ministry notified the dzongkhags and thromdes of this decision yesterday.

This came after Lyonchhen conveyed to the education minister to study possibilities on having students take their exams in the dzongkhag they currently were in.

According to Education Minister JB Rai, because the virus could easily spread, it was risky for the student to travel and could infect the whole school if one was infected, which would be disastrous.

He added that although the Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA) had already identified exam centers and had prepared for the board examinations, because of the circumstances, examination centers would be changed for the required students.

However, a few students have requested the ministry to facilitate their movement as they wished to take their exams in their own schools.

A notification issued by the ministry yesterday stated that if students chose to go back to their own schools for the examination, they have to make necessary arrangements on their own.   

The ministry’s decision isn’t however going to affect many students because most students already joined their schools on January 14 and some on January 16 before the movement restriction was announced.

The education ministry’s notification on September 20 last year stated that class X and XII students of unaffected schools would end their vacation by January 14. Class X and XII students of affected schools of Phuentsholing didn’t have vacation and continued their stay in the school (currently in Punakha).

A principal of a central school said that there were five stranded students (class X and XII) in his school. He added that others joined the school on January 14 and a few day scholars also joined the school for revision classes.

He added that the school was in contact with stranded students and their parents.

“Other students joined school following all protocols and revision has started. With the risks, it is right that those students take their exams from where they are. But if the situation improves and it becomes safer, students should be sent to their respective schools as it would be more convenient.”

In a private school, one of its 93 class XII students is stranded in Thimphu. The principal said that day scholar students had also joined the school and revision had begun. “It is better to have the exams done in respective dzongkhag. The students will not feel comfortable while doing their exams in other dzongkhags.”

While schools with boarding facilities have begun revision in containment mode, others schools have been instructed to await the directives from the government.

The education ministry had earlier informed schools across Bhutan to operate on containment mode and required students to join schools latest by January 31.

However, the schools have been currently instructed to wait for instructions from the government on January 30 after the testing completes in dzongkhags.

A three-day mass screening will also begin in Thimphu today.

Meanwhile, the movement of teachers is also on hold. Unlike in the past, invigilators and examiners for the board examinations would be moibilised from within the dzongkhag or thromde. The teachers cannot be assigned as invigilators in their own schools.

“In the meeting with dzongkhag education officers and principals, it has been conveyed that all students should remain ready for the exams as syllabus has been covered,” Lyonpo JB Rai said.