Zunglen primary school in Drepong gewog, Mongar, is located in the heart of the community. With houses and arable lands on the left and forest on the right, the school looks scenic.
The school, locals say, has benefitted the 102 households of Zunglen and Tsangkhar chiwogs. There are 86 students.
But the admiration vanishes once you reach the school campus.
With old structures, students and teachers say they live in fear every day. The main office, classrooms, teacher’s quarters and hostels are almost collapsing. There are wide gaps between the walls of the structures. The ceilings and planks are almost falling apart.
The school, according to the villagers, was constructed in 1985 and no major renovation was done till now. People said they changed the wooden floors.
A class six student, Kinzang Namgyel, said students live in fear, worrying that the school buildings might collapse when they are in the class.
Another student, Ugyen Dechen Wangmo said she is worried that if an earthquake occurs, the academic blocks and hostels will give in.
A teacher said it is difficult to move around in the classes, as the planks have worn out.
Teachers said the school does not have safe infrastructure. “Forget about other facilities like Internet and computers, we don’t have safe buildings,” a teacher said.
The school’s principal, Tashi Wangdi said although the school has not been renovated for more than 30 years, the community provided planks for flooring and gewog supported the budget for drinking water facility.
He said for the past four years, the school management has forwarded letters to gewog administration and dzongkhag education sector for maintenance or renovations.
The principal said the school received drawing and design map new construction from the dzongkhag engineer sector with cost estimation. “But construction could not take place because of lack of budget.”
Dzongkhag education officer, Lham Dorji said although drawing and structural map for construction is ready, it could not be constructed because it was not in 11 th Plan. “This is because of the existing policy that if there are less than 100 students, the school will be down graded,” he said.
Lham Dorji said 10 primary schools in the dzongkhag will be downgraded in the coming financial year. “Woop primary school was downgraded to extended classroom this year.”
Zunglen chiwog tshogpa, Lunten Wangdi said that the National Assembly speaker Jigme Zangpo pledged to renovate the school. “We are hoping that dasho will fulfil his pledge.”
Tashi Phuntsho | Zunglen