Fifty-seven students from various schools of Phuentsholing drungkhag were brought to Shemagangkha primary school (SPS) on March 1.

Transported in three buses from Phuentsholing and accompanied by their parents, the school children were welcomed with a khaddar by dzongkhag education officials.

Chukha education office has made this significant move as SPS had been facing a shortage of students despite having spacious and better facilities in place.

The school just had 50 students until March 1.

The school has a capacity to accommodate 300 students, including 72 boarding students. It now has 107 students.

Chukha dzonghag’s chief education officer, Kinley Gyeltshen, said that SPS was provided with infrastructural development in 2015.

“Our aim was to consolidate and bring students from nearby primary schools,” he said. “We wanted to pool infrastructure and other resources at SPS.”

Students from primary schools in Paga, Rinchenling, and Lobneykha were supposed to get consolidated with SPS, Kinley Gyeltshen said, adding that primary schools in these three places were identified to be downgraded to ECRs.

He, however, said that respective communities in these places did not want to send their children, as they wanted the schools to operate.

Kinley Gyeltshen said schools in Paga, Rinchenling, and Lobneykha have not been downgraded to ECRs.

Today, Paga primary school has 19 students while Rinchenling primary school and Lobneykha primary school has 32 students each.

In 2017, SPS had 55 students with four teachers, including the principal. Today, two more teachers have been deputed to the school.

Students from SPS and the new students are equally excited.

A class four student, Pema Lhamo, 10, from Shoelgoen village said she was happy with the new arrangement.

“This means we will have more friends in our classes,” she said, adding that her class until yesterday had just 10 students.

The football enthusiast said she would have new friends to play with.

Meanwhile, 55 of the 57 new students were brought from Chumigthang middle secondary school (CMSS), Samphelling (Pasakha).

Coming from distant villages of Kothiline, Pana A, B, and C, students at CMSS had stayed in rental accommodation around the school campus and Pasakha.

A mother of a 10-year-old student, Sarika Rai, who had come from Pasakha, said the swelling of Bhalujora and Bhaunijora rivers in Pasakha was a major problem to send her son to school.

“I chose to bring my son here,” she said.

Swastika Limbu, a 14-year-old who is from Kothiline village, Samphelling, is also one of the new students at SPS who was transported from CMSS.

“I used to stay in a rented house at Allay and attend classes at CMSS,” the class VI student said.

Swastika Limbu said she and her elder brother cooked on their own food and attended classes at CMSS. She is happy she would not need to cook anymore, she added.

Coming from a warmer place, students and parents said it was cold at Shemagangkha. But they are optimistic.

Vivek Sunwar, 10, a class III student said he is excited.

Shemgangkha tshogpa, Tazi, said this programme would give children from both places more exposure.

“Different children have different knowledge and they can now learn from each other,” he said.

Tazi said people are thankful for the dzongkhag administration’s arrangement.

More than Nu 25 million was invested to construct the new school block, a multipurpose hall, a kitchen, hostels, and quarters for matron and warden. Hostels also have washing machines and geyser facilities.

Rajesh Rai | Shemagangkha