Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse
It’s been almost three years since Tshomo from Goenpa Karpo village in remote Lhuentse has been living away from home in order to educate her children in Khoma.
Constructing a makeshift hut on a leased land cost her more than Nu 50,000. it has been her second home from which her children walks to school.
Khoma Lower Secondary School offered to take care of her three children in the hostel. However, she opted to keep the younger ones, studying in classes II and I, as day scholars. The eldest studying in class VII stays in the hostel.
Tshomo’s main duty is to cook meals, wash clothes and takes care of them. She is not alone.
There are at least 10 parents who live temporary shacks adjacent to the school campus so that their children can continue going to school. As the children Parents leave the shacks and move to their villages after their children attend higher classes.
Tshomo says she was compelled to stay there because her children were too reluctant to stay in the hostel. Unlike in the past, she said the kids were too young to take care of themselves because of the early enrollment at five years.
“They are not able to eat properly and we are worried if they are kept in the school, although there are caregivers in the schools. Most of the time their belongings are missing but we can’t blame anyone.”
Khoma LSS is more than four-hour walk down from Goenpakarpo. The return journey takes almost day. Although the village was recently connected with a farm road, it is more than two-hour drive from Khoma. But there is hardly any vehicles and the fares are expensive.
She said an extended classroom in the village could address the issue. It could also help those in the neighbouring villages like Nyalamdung, Drakteng and Lingdung villages. One of the remotest villages in Khoma gewog, Goenpakarpo village has around 23 households.
A day school at Baptong was closed recently. It made little difference to her children because they had to walk two hours through thick jungle to and from school. However, closure of the primary school has affected many other nearby residents.
They said they have raised the issue in various meetings.
Drimed Wangmo from Berpa village, less than an hour away from Baptong, has moved to Khoma to look after her niece studying in class I since her brother had to go for paddy cultivation. “Every day, I have to fight with her to get to school. Wondering how the school manages her.”
Another parent from Berpa walks to school every day with her daughter, a class II student.
“We can take care better of our children at home and also do our farm work,” Pema Lhazom said.
According to sources, the closure of school depends on enrollment, and education policy mandates a minimum of 20 students to qualify for ECR and 25 and above students for a primary school.
At least 10 schools including two ECRs were closed down over the last 10 years in the dzongkhag. Kuensel learned that Lhuentse dzongkhag has three newly constructed ECCD centers that are non-operational without instructors.