Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

The students of College of Zorig Chusum in Trashiyangtse is making the most of the closure of schools and institutes due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the skills they acquired, they are killing two birds with a stone. While they keep honing their skills, they are also earning a decent income from doing temporary jobs painting or carving.  Some, meanwhile, have returned to their villages to help their parents in the farms.

Karma, who is pursuing National certificate level three, stayed back in Trashiyangtse after the institute closed last month. He and a friend, Sangay Wangdi are engaged in painting. He said although they have to sit for examination on skills, their instructors created WeChat groups and other online forums to teach them.

“While the mornings and evenings are occupied with online classes, I use the free hours during day to paint thangkas (scrolls),” he said adding that his dream is to become a skilled painter and make a living out of painting.

Another students, Karsang Dawa said his parent supported him to stay at Trashiyangtse and learn skills. “I could earn Nu 20,000 this month carving on a choeshum (altar). I got another two ordered,” he said. “As we have focus more on practical work, it is difficult to learn lessons sent through online, but we are learning on sketches that teachers send us online.”

Kelzang Dawa stayed back with his relatives who are teachers of the institute.  He is engaged in painting a debri (wall painting) together with his teacher inside teachers room in Trashiyangtse. “I could learn more this way than listening to theories in the class,” he said. “In practical, I can learn through mistake and also teacher correct me.”

He said, he decided to stay with relatives and learn additional skills by doing practical works. “I didn’t reached that level to learn, but it would help me in future. I can also earn pocket money.”

Meanwhile, Choining Dorji, 23, from Chagkadeymi has returned to his village to help his parents after the institute closed. He said as most of their lessons are practical, it was difficult to learn lessons online. “The general students can learn through television and other facilities, but it is difficult for us as we have to learn more doing practical,” he said.

Teachers said that the biggest challenge is instructional classes “Some students don’t have access to online facilities, especially those who live in places with poor connectivity. It is difficult for both the teachers and students as we have to teach sketch practically,” said a teacher.

However, he said they keep students engaged sending assignment on other subject like Mathematics, English and Dzongkha on social media.

College’s principal, Kinley Penjore said most of the subjects involve practical hands-on lessons. “It is difficult to teach online,” he said adding that the institute had sent students home with theory notes and other sketch notes to practice at home.

The teachers keep students engage with giving assignments on English and other subjects on WeChat and Facebook messenger services. Students were also provided printed copy of drawing, sketch and other textbooks to keep them engaged.