Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Villagers of Mangdephu and Phumzur in Trongsa are well aware of the government’s e-learning initiative. The problem is they are cut off and cannot access the programmes, both on television and online.

The two villages, one in Langthel gewog and the other in Nubi gewog, are not connected with electricity. While mobile network is reachable at certain points, internet connectivity on mobile phones is a problem. Not many carry smart phones.

However, students are not wasting their time. There are about 30 students in the two villages. Some are in higher secondary school. Students are busy helping their parents in the fields. It is spring and  there is plenty of work. Some herd cattle while others are busy in the fields, busy preparing for maize plantation.

“Our children are missing out on their studies,” said a worried farmer, Jamphel Lhendup of Mangdephu. “They had not been studying since the school closed and came back here.”

Without electricity, villagers try to not to use their mobile phones unless necessary. When switched on, they keep their mobile phones on the windowsill to receive the faintest of network. Parents are worried, especially those who have their children in higher classes. 

Villager Tsagay has three sons, all studying in Class XII.  “It is difficult to charge a phone,” said Tsagay. His village is about an hour’s walk from the nearest road head. “They have board exams. I don’t know how they will prepare.”

Asked why he didn’t send his boys to live with relatives outside the village, Tsagay said that there is no relatives in other places. “Besides it is safer here in our village,” he said. “And who will buy them smartphones?”

Neighbouring villages like Jangbi and Wangling have access to internet and television.  But parents have no clue of what is being taught online or on the television. 

Dorji Khandu of Thangnyel village said that his son is always watching TV, but he is unsure if he understands anything. “We don’t know what is being taught or if they understand,” he said. His son studies in Class PP.

Villagers feel that the e-learning is only for the those with good access to internet and with educated parents to guide students.