Villagers want to relocate the primary school to a safer location

Nahi: Villagers of Nahi gewog, Wangdue are not happy with the education ministry’s decision to downgrade the gewog’s only school. The feeling was made known to their representative to the National council, Tashi Dorji last week when he visited the gewog.

The ministry decided to down grade Nahi primary school to a community school (Classes pre primary to III). Villagers asked the council member to request the government to relocate the school to an already identified area instead of downgrading it.

Nahi gup Karpo Dorji said the mud-rammed school that is in a poor condition has not been renovated ever since the local people built it some 40 years ago.

Located above a stream and below a giant rock at a place called Nyachizampa, the school is prone to flood and landslides during monsoon, he said. Since it is located at a few hours walking distance from many villages and around a day from the gewog centre, half the students are staying in hostel.

The plan to relocate the school existed much before the first LG election, however, it could not come through because of disagreement among the people, Gup Karpo Dorji said.

A decision was made to shift it to Yusagongma where a 3.70-acre land was cleared and a farm road of 2.7kms was constructed with the gewog development grant.

But in October 2015, the education ministry wrote to the gewog saying the school has only 130 students and it will not be relocated, but downgraded. It was also mentioned that students of classes PP to III would be kept at the existing school that would be repaired while classes IV to VI students would be send to a central school, according to the gup.

“Following the ministry’s letter, we had several rounds of consultation at the gewog and wrote back to the education ministry,” said the gup. “We even suggested the ministry to construct low budget one-storied houses at the new location, if there is no budget for concrete structures.”

Kinley Dem, 51, of Yusagongma village said the existing school structures were old and falling apart, and prone to natural disasters. Few years ago, a girl nearly died after falling boulders hit her. “I have a son studying in the school and don’t feel safe,” Kinley said.

One summer morning, Kinley said, she rushed down to the school on hearing a roaring sound from the stream. “Luckily the principal had, like always, evacuated all the students to a higher ground.” Parts of several old structures were washed away, she said.

Another parent, Namgay Dem, 39, said the number of students were declining not because the gewog had fewer children, but because of the poor school condition. “Those having relatives and money send their children to study in Bajo and Thimphu, while those without choice comes to Nahi,” she said.

“If the education ministry can’t upgrade the school, I think they should not downgrade the school,” said Karma, another villager. “Atleast the parents should be consulted before taking the decision.”

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue