Last year, in October, during one of our King’s visit to South Bhutan, His Majesty met with the students and teachers of the Norbuling Central School.
At the school in Gelephu, His Majesty patiently spoke at great lengths. He shared his thoughts and his ideas about education.
When His Majesty noticed that the students were engrossed taking down notes, He immediately stopped and asked the students a question.
A class IX student was quick to respond. Satisfied with the answer, His Majesty then asked the pupil, Chimi Wangmo, her age to which she promptly replied as 16.
Focusing on the importance of reading, His Majesty shared his idea of cultivating the habit by introducing the idea of reading 10 pages a day.
Our King’s question to the students was, how many days there were in a year. Explaining the arithmetic behind reading 10 pages a day, His Majesty said that if Chimi read 10 pages a day in a year, she would have read 3,650 pages in a year.
Our King could not emphasize enough the importance of reading. He said if a book has 300 pages then in a year, Chimi would have read 12 books. In 10 years, when she turns 26 years old, she would have read at least 120 books.
Imagine if Chimi continued to read for another 10 years, His Majesty said that by the time she turned 36, she would have read at least a total of 240 books. At 36, she would still be four years younger than His Majesty was in 2020.
His Majesty exclaimed that the number of books she would have read would be an astonishing one.
His Majesty encouraged the students to invest in books and to use the school library to inculcate the habit of reading.
Our King generously shared his personal tips on books and recommended the students to read various genres of books. He assured the captivated audience, that reading books would help them become smarter. It would also aid while making major decisions later on in life. After sharing the importance of reading with the Norbuling Central School, His Majesty then freely shared three of his thoughts on education.
Foremost in His Majesty’s mind was the importance of time management. This, our King considered key for a prosperous life. He said that it was important to chalk out plans for at least 10 years of one’s life.
Using Chimi, as an example, our King elaborated that if she planned her college, marriage, family, children, timing of when to be in or out of the country, her chances of not only leading a more comfortable but fulfilling life would be much higher than those of her friends who did not. His Majesty highlighted that the seeds of the forethoughts must be planted while in school.
The other two thoughts, His Majesty shared and devoted his time, were on cognitive learning and character building of students.
Talking about cognitive learning, His Majesty said that it was important that the students must be able to learn beyond the four corners of their classrooms.
His Majesty said that in the world, there were many kinds of research being done on the subjects of cognitive domains.
Our King said that the current trend of the students being evaluated at the end of the year was based on an examination. He said that there are cases where the students excel in examinations but lag behind in real-life situations. On the other hand, there are students who perform poorly in school but excel in real life.
His Majesty told the students and teachers that he was aware of these mixed feelings about the education system. Despite these ambiguities, His Majesty said that what mattered the most was the individual’s cognitive aptitude and the perseverance in meeting one’s dream. It is also those with perseverance who succeed in life.
His Majesty then spoke of the quality that a student has to develop. According to His Majesty, the three important traits for a student to excel were Tsen Shuk or grit, Rigpa or curiosity and Rang Shey/Damtsi or character.
Our King said that grit is the never giving up attitude despite the worst-case scenario and downturns in life.
His Majesty reminded both the students and teachers that such kinds of people come with a lot of mental endurance as they were aware that the journey of life comes with package of surprises that are not always pleasant.
His Majesty added that for those people, problems are not deterrence in achieving their goals. It is for this reason that some of the average students in school excel in life.
His Majesty spoke about curiosity and how what is learnt in school is a primary factor to a student’s success in life.
In our King’s talk delivered with great clarity, His Majesty articulated to the congregation the need to have an open mind and not to confine education only to the classroom.
His Majesty shared the story of a retired soldier who now lives in Gelephu. Our King said that the retired soldier despite the lack of formal education succeeded in life. He was the first able to serve our Fourth King at close quarters. After retirement, he went on to become successful and prosperous contributing actively to the community of Gelephu.
Citing another example, His Majesty expounded that on the other hand, there were many in the country with masters and PhD degrees. Yet were not been able to contribute significantly in their own life and their community. Personally, His Majesty attributed the success of the unschooled retired soldier to curiosity.
At the Norbuling school, His Majesty stressed on character building and explained how it supersedes the other two traits. Our King said that character formation more important than any other trait.
His Majesty cautioned the students and the teachers that telling lies, stealing, being disrespectful, were demeaning traits of character that students must never cultivate.
To make light of the subject, in jest, His Majesty said that the first natural question a girl will ask her friend about a boy who is trying to woo her is his character. It is obvious that the girl would favourably consider the boy’s proposal only if the boy has a good character.
According to His Majesty, Bhutanese are deeply rooted with profound character and high emotional intelligence which has to be secured for eons.
His Majesty related an incident that he attended in Wangdue where His Holiness Je Khenpo was presiding a wang ceremony. He was pleasantly surprised to observe how well-built Bhutanese were in character as he witnessed people so calm and composed in the tent notwithstanding the dehydrating conditions.
According to His Majesty, this was one of the qualities that indicate civilized people who we can be proud of.
His Majesty is aware of that in spite of our profound character strength, we the Bhutanese still need to be groomed in academic intelligence. His Majesty confirmed to the students that Bhutan is trying hard to enhance and excel in the domains of the academic intelligence too.
In the concluding note, our King’s pearls of advice to the students and teachers of the school were that they must read more books, be IT savvy and keep abreast with technology whilst constantly building one’s character.
His Majesty mentioned that world was changing at an unimaginable pace and that students must broaden their horizons constantly.
Norbuling Central School
Inspired by the words of our King, the Norbuling Central School in Gelephu started a reading programme. The first 30 minutes of every day is devoted as reading time. From 8.30 to 9.00 am both the teachers and students read books. In addition, every Sunday an hour and a half is devoted to reading.
Since His Majesty spoke about 10 pages a day, in 73 days as of 17 December 2020, Chimi Wangmo has read 250 pages covering three books averaging three pages a day.
Similarly, drawing inspiration from His Majesty’s idea of reading 10 pages a day, the Volunteer Teachers of Bhutan initiated the nation-wide 10 Pages a Day Reading Journey on 7 June. There are 4,575 registered members with the youngest participant being four years old and the oldest being 51years old.