Forty-three senior retired Indian teachers who served in Bhutan were invited as guests of honour to celebrate teachers’ day at Changlingmithang, Thimphu, yesterday.

Director of Directorate of Services with the education ministry, Kinley Gyeltshen, said that the special celebration is to pay tribute to teachers who served the country, to the third king who started formal modern education and in celebration of 50 years diplomatic ties between Bhutan and India.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the day is an opportunity to thank the teachers for the hard work they put in day and night.

He said that although May 2 is celebrated as teachers’ day every year, this year is special as it coincides with 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relation between India and Bhutan. “The history of modern education of Bhutan is closely linked. It is intertwined with the history of partnership and friendship between India and Bhutan.”

Lyonchhen said that many more former teachers had wanted to join the celebration but it was not possible to accommodate.  “But I am privileged to say today that His Majesty The King has commanded that a separate event be held later this year in India at which all our former teachers who have taught in Bhutan could be invited and we celebrate together the good work that you have done for us.”

Lyonchhen said that to help teachers, the 12th Plan would focus on activities such as offering 300 teachers to participate in fulltime masters course, reducing contact hours from 25 to 18 hours and to focus on housing for the teachers.

The retired Indian teachers, some of who have returned to Bhutan for the first time after their retirement expressed their gratitude for being invited. The 43 retired Indian teachers received souvenirs and certificate of commendation each. The celebration was joined by 46 Indian teachers currently working in western Bhutan, 23 Thimphu based retired Bhutanese teachers, 10,000 students and senior government officials.

A former Indian teacher KP Nayar, who served in schools across the country from 1964 to 1992, recalled the days when Thimphu had a single road. He thanked the monarchs and the government for the opportunity to see the country and meet his students and colleagues once again.

The 83-year old teacher noted the improvement the education system in Bhutan has made from the days when he taught in schools with seven to 15 students, four teachers, no piped water, electricity or teachers’ quarters.

GH Manna who came to Bhutan in 1979 and is currently teaching at Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School said that teachers’ day should be celebrated so that students know they are not alone in schools and that they have teachers who are their second parents.

He added that in his 40 years of service, the gift he has received from Bhutan is the Bhutanese children whom he has taught. “It is not necessary to be born in that particular country to love that country,” he added.

The day also honoured about 1,500 Bhutanese teachers from schools across Thimphu dzongkhag. The day for these teachers started with a red carpet reception at Changlingmithang stadium at 8am by the ministers, students and officials from the education ministry.

A teacher at Babesa Primary School, Tshering Gemo, who chose to become a teacher for the love of children, said that teachers feel special and motivated when they are recognised. “The main foundation builders are teachers and when they are recognised and celebrated, they feel special.”

Noting the changes in the education system, she added that in the past, teaching and learning in schools was more teacher centric while today modern technologies has made it more student centric. “Now most activities are done by students and teachers just facilitate.”

To celebrate the day, 47 lottery prizes comprising of laptops, bike, cell phones, television set and statues were given away across the country.

Karma Cheki