Education: Parents of school-going children from Tama and Berti in Zhemgang, who stay in temporary sheds and rented houses to send their children to school, say they hope the government will upgrade Tingtibi Lower Secondary School (LSS) to a Central School.

The villages of Tama and Berti are located 17km and 10km respectively away from Tingtibi LSS. The school does not have boarding facilities.

Parents of more than 25 students stay in makeshift huts in Takabi and Tingtibi. Some rent houses in Tingtibi while others leave their children with friends and relatives in Tingtibi.

A parent from Berti, Chechey, 38, has constructed a temporary hut in Takabi to house her three school-going kids. “It’s still far for them to walk from Takabi to Tingtibi LSS but there is no choice,” she said.

Chechey said she goes to Berti during the day to work in the farms and returns to Takabi to stay with her kids in the evenings.

Karma Choden, 45, from Tama rents a house in Tingtibi to educate her eight-year-old son. She also has to go to Tama to do farm works. “It is inconvenient but I don’t have an option. My son is too small to cook and wear his clothes,” she said.

Karma contested as tshogpa in the recent local government election. She didn’t get elected. The main reason for her to contest as tshogpa, she said, was because she felt she could stay with her son near the gewog office.

Another parent from Tama, Tshewang Lhamo, said that she has to keep her daughter with her sister at Takabi. She said it is risky to keep her daughter alone.

Tama’s only extended classroom (ECR) was closed down a few years ago. “We have small school-going kids and we need a school now,” Tshewang said. “If not, the government should upgrade Tingtibi school to a Central School.”

Yeshey Peldon, 29, is also from Tama. She is staying with her two children at Tingtibi in a rented house.

She said it is difficult for her as she is a single mother. “When I stay with them, there is no one in the village house,” she said. “I wish our children can get enrolled in a Central School.”

Parents who stay with their children say it is not safe to leave their children with others.

Tingtibi LSS’s principal, Karma K, said the school management advised parents to take care of their children since there is no boarding facility at the school. “We give them a choice to enroll their children in Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School after they complete class six,” he said.

Zhemgang district education officer, Karma Wangchuk, said that the parents will have the option to send their children to Zhemgang Central School in the next academic year.

He said there is no plan to upgrade Tingtibi LSS to a Central School as of now but because of the poverty level in the dzongkhag, the ministry might consider a request.

Karma Wangchuk said Zhemgang Central School does not have boarding facilities for students from pre-primary to class six this year, as upgrading the school to a Central School was an ad hoc decision.

Meanwhile, Tama has 60 households and Berti has 25 households.

Tashi Tenzin