School not taking in juniors for lack of caregivers

Education: New admissions for the academic year 2016 completed yesterday at Mendrelgang Central School in Tsirang.

But the school did not enroll any new students from pre-primary to Class III, as there are no caregivers or washer-men. At least 68 new students were admitted until yesterday to classes below III as day scholars.

Principal Chaxing Norbu said that the school will only admit 21 students this year. Seven of them were sent from Tsholingkhar Primary School, where students used to walk more than four hours to school. Another 11 students of Betini were recommended by the gup and three students were also requested by the principal of Rangthaling.

“We’re considering students from other gewogs who were studying as informal boarders,” the principal said. “These 21 students used to walk over four hours to school.”

The others are not accepted in the hostel because of practical problems. There were about 100 young students in the hostel last year. They were admitted on an understanding that the parents would visit in turns every weekend. For instance there were 17 students from extended classrooms in Toetshang, which is a two day walk away from the road point.  An agreement was signed that every weekend one family would visit to bathe, wash clothes and do other cleaning of the 17 students.

The year completed without anyone showing up. There were days when young students turned up to classes without bathing and washing clothes.

“Hygiene is a big problem with young students,” Chaxing Norbu said. “Their heads were full of lice.” Every weekend teachers bought lice-remover and took care of the students. “Mattresses had to be dried almost every day, as they wet their bed. Girls were provided with a synthetic bedspread but it was of little help,” the principal said.

Caregivers are necessary when senior students are attending classes and young students loiter unattended. Last year two students suffered major injury when left unattended. One sliced his thigh on a barbed wire fencing. The class II student could not attend his final exams. Another student broke a limb.

“Considering all these, we’ll not take in students until we have full time caregivers and washer-men,” he said.

For the 17 students from last year, the school plans to seek help from the 14 non-teaching staff. A proposal will be made to the School Management Board meeting next month for some allowances.  The buddy system, where senior students take care of young students is expected to be tightened this year.

Among all Central Schools in the country, Mendrelgang has one of the highest numbers of students in the hostel. Of the total 1,126, students 726 were boarders last year. The number is likely to go up to 960.

Meanwhile, the two washing machines bought last year lie unused. Without operators, they don’t want to risk using it.

Nirmala Pokhrel, Tsirang