School students in Thimphu will no longer be allowed to wear tracksuits during the morning assembly and in classes, the thromde has decided.

The decision is a resolution of the 11th Thimphu Thromde education conference held on March 8 at Paro.

The March 16 notice states that in keeping with government policy to promote the country’s national identity, directives are issued to the schools for immediate compliance. The notification states that students will have to wear either gho or kira while in school, and also while going and returning from school.

Students will be permitted to wear tracksuits only during health and physical education (HPE) periods and annual sports days. Schools are asked to arrange their health and physical education classes on Saturdays and tracksuits should be worn uniformly only on that day.

“School principals will ensure that students carry tracksuits separately for HPE classes and also make arrangements with HPE teachers/instructors to adjust time of about 5-10 minutes for changing the dress,” the notice states.

While the notice was issued on March 16, some schools received it only yesterday morning.

The notice has elicited mixed reactions from secondary schools. However, primary schools have expressed concerns over the decision.

Secondary schools like Nima and Pelkhil stopped allowing students to attend assembly and classes in tracksuit from the start of the academic year. “Though we received the notice only yesterday morning, the school has refrained from allowing students to come in tracksuits in the morning assembly and classes,” Pelkhil High School principal, Umesh Kumar said.

Nima Higher Secondary School principal, Wangchuk Namgyel said that his school didn’t wait for the notice. “We informed the students from last year that HPE classes will be conducted on Saturdays,” he said.

Both schools also hold their HPE classes only on Saturdays. “No parents have objected to the school’s decision to disallow tracksuits for the morning assembly and in classes,” Wangchuk Namgyel said.

Some secondary schools like Lungtenzampa, Dechencholing, and Yangchenphug have been holding their HPE classes on Saturdays for a few years now. “But since it was difficult to cover over 1,864 students on Saturday, HPE classes for preprimary to III were conducted in periods during the weekdays,” Dechencholing Higher Secondary School vice principal, Kuenga said.

In the three schools, students are allowed to wear tracksuits only on Saturdays. “As for classes PP-III, we allow the children to wear tracksuits until the afternoon,” Kuenga said.

Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School has its HPE day on Friday since the school is closed on Saturdays.

But Pelkhil’s principal Umesh Kumar said that conducting HPE classes for over 570 students on the same day within a span of two-three hours is difficult and ensuring quality is a challenge. “It’s difficult to engage every student and give each an equal opportunity for activities on the same day,” he said.

Principals from other higher secondary schools had no issues with the new rule. Principals from these schools in fact lauded the directives to do away with tracksuits during the morning assembly and classes.

However, the new rule has worried primary school principals. Most feel that it will be difficult to conduct HPE classes on Saturdays. “Firstly, the school has only one physical education instructor who cannot cover over 348 students on the same day,” Jungshina Primary School principal, Sangay Dorji said, adding that even resources like space and sport equipment would not be enough.

Zilukha Milddle Secondary School principal, Dawa Tshering said that the school has only limited resources to be able to conduct HPE classes on Saturday for all of the school’s 29 classes. “The school is discussing on how to conduct the HPE class,” Dawa Tshering said.

He added that changing rooms would also be required if students have to change in the school. “While students from the higher classes won’t have any issue, children from the lower classes especially the primary level would have problems since they would not know how to wear their uniforms,” Dawa Tshering said.

Tempa Wangdi