Education has always been His Majesty’s greatest concern and priority, and as teachers, we shoulder the noblest role in providing the kind of education, which will illuminate the future of Bhutan in the best way. Teachers have the greatest blessings and support from the benevolent throne.
“I will always support teachers throughout my reign. I will give you more importance and more recognition than any other sector, because you are going to make the greatest difference to future of our country.” ~His Majesty the King to trainee teachers at Samtse College of Education, 2012
To realize the dream of His Majesty and for the benefit of young minds, a non-profit reading programme, The Reading Retreat, was initiated by a group of teachers from Lobesa LSS in Punakha. The retreat is a testimony of solidarity among the teachers of Lobesa. It’s a programme that is born from the heart of teachers- a platform laid for our children. The retreat flows under the theme- Reading is Fun and aims at making reading an enjoyable endeavor for our children. This initiative was inspired by His Majesty The King’s noble vision to inculcate reading habit among our young minds. It aims to build a lifelong reading habit, while also meaningfully engage children during the summer break. The programme strives towards building a well-read Bhutanese society. The weeklong programme is designed to engage our students in reading-related and other useful activities. The activities begin with a bedtime reading, four sessions during the day and story time before bed. Alongside the reading activities, the retreat also provides them learning experiences of values of Tha Damtshi and Lay Judrey, sense of pride and Bhutanese etiquettes. We also have physical education and recreational activities to give variety to the children. The retreat encourages children to become independent as they will be required to spend a week on their own, such as taking care of their belongings and themselves.
The 10 objectives of the reading retreat are:
- Encourage and develop a love for reading
- Perform better in school and life
- Use reading skills to improve listening, speaking and writing skills
- Use ICT and other mediums to enhance reading skills.
- Work as a team and make new friends
- Enrich their language and vocabulary
- Gain confidence and build self-esteem
- Use their summer/winter vacation meaningfully
- Become more independent and adventurous
- Have Fun and promote happiness through values of Tha Damtshi Lay Judrey
The upcoming reading retreat, which is scheduled from July 21 – 27, is expected to attract 268 students from schools across the country, ranging from classes 4 to 8. Students from as far as Trashigang and Trashiyangtse registered for the retreat this year. We started the programme with a big dream and intentions, and we have successfully completed three retreats in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The programme saw a total of 230 students in 2017 at Lobesa, 235 students in 2018 and 268 students have registered for 2019. We have had children of classes 4-8 from as far as Haa and Samtse. The event has a dedicated Facebook page: The Reading Retreat: Bhutan, and the team uses social media as the main platform to share information, seek donations and send out updates.
Reading Retreat is supported through token entry fees of Nu 500 a student for the weeklong programme, which is challenging to cover all the expenses incurred. However, we seek volunteer donations to run our programme. Thus far, we received donations from few financial institutions, private companies, business firms and individuals. Perfect TMX TMT has been a huge support to the programme since 2018. Punakha dzongkhag administration also supports us with a nominal cash support every year. We also encourage maximum participation of children from economically challenged families by waiving off the fees. Reading Retreat is a non-profit initiative and will remain so for times to come.
The team has a Terms of Reference (ToR) and a dedicated core team of five founding members and 13 working committee members – all teachers. We have Colonel Karma Tshering, SSP of RBP, Punakha as our President since 2017. Volunteers from all sections of the society support the Reading Retreat every year and the team remains indebted to our volunteers for the continued support. As for our future plans, we would like to register with the Civil Society Authority to formalise this initiative.
Founding Member Teacher