Phurpa Lhamo | Punakha

Students of Punakha dzongkhag resumed their academic session in clean classrooms, and with new hand-washing stations, cleaned and built by their teachers.

After schools closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, over 430 teachers in Punakha repaired footpaths, whitewashed school walls, cleaned the surroundings and fixed broken furniture.

At Punakha Central School, five hand-washing stations and an additional drinking water station were built.

Punakha Central School Principal Sherab Tshering said that the teachers planted about 200 trees, and cleaned the campus. “Because the school is near the road, we need to clean often. The classrooms have also been cleaned.”

Teachers of 23 schools in the dzongkhag constructed hand-washing stations, which were mandatory to open schools.

Punakha’s Chief Education Officer Lemo said when the dzongkhag received the budget for the construction of the stations, she suggested the schools to build them and not contract it out.

“We worry about youth and other groups but nobody talks about teachers. Teachers miss their students a lot and nobody thought about the emotional troubles the teachers were going through.”

Most of the schools began work in June and completed it within two to three weeks.

“If the work was tendered out the process would have taken longer,” Lemo said.

Apart from aligning the hand-washing station designs with the requirements of the schools, the dzongkhag engineers also helped simplify the tap designs for the teachers to construct.

“Many schools could save money and construct more stations from the same budget because they didn’t have to pay for labour,” Lemo said.

Lemo’s initiative was also aimed at skilling the teachers and to build a sense of belongingness between teachers and their students and schools.