A frequent power outage in Silambi Gewog under Monggar district is disrupting ICT classes for the students of Nagor Middle Secondary School (NMSS), which is located in the gewog. The power blackouts for the past week have forced the school to skip ICT classes many times. It was caused by Bhutan Power Corporation’s bush clearing works along the transmission lines, which happen every summer.
Though the power was restored on Monday, the school recounted missing some 38 ICT periods over the last week. The school’s ICT classrooms remained empty.
According to the school management, this problem is coming in the way of empowering pupils from the pre-primary level till grade 10 with ICT skills.
Some students share that without reliable power, the internet is inaccessible, hindering them to learn ICT and other subjects.
“As we learn more practical lessons in the ICT period, lack of power supply brings our classes to an abrupt halt. Apart from ICT classes, we cannot gather timely information from the internet to do assignments for other subjects as well,” tells one of the students of Nagor MSS.
Other students also share similar challenges.
“When there is light, we can go to the ICT lab, browse the internet and do research for our subjects. But when the power is down, we become helpless. It is like being handicapped,” adds Dorji Choden, another student of Nagor MSS.
Teachers are also affected as they need to research to prepare lessons and online assessments of the students.
“The erratic power supply interrupts our ICT classes. The computer window has to be re-installed, which takes time and hampers teaching. In ICT classes, we have more practical lessons than theory. So, the intermittent power supply does affect children to learn ICT,” says Gyem Tshering, an ICT teacher at Nagor School.
The ICT teachers are worried if they will be able to cover the syllabus on time. They say conducting remedial classes after school is not likely to help since day students have to return home at late hours.
To avoid the problem in the future, they also suggest that BPC clear bushes around the electric poles during the off-schooling seasons.
“If the BPC clear and line maintenance works during the summer and winter holidays, we can conduct online classes smoothly, continues the ICT teacher Gyem Tshering.
The school has no budget to buy a generator. On the BPC’s part, the duration for bush clearing works was reduced from three months to two weeks.
They also tried to complete the work before the summer break ends but due to the long distance of power lines, it wasn’t possible.
The BPC clarified that such activity is necessary to prevent electric short circuits.
Sonam Tshering, Monggar
Edited by Pema Lhaden