In Phangyuel Gewog in Wangdue Phodrang, the only school in the gewog could close if measures are not taken to increase enrolment in the school. As the school is located quite far from the villages, parents send their children to schools in other gewogs where there are boarding facilities. However, this might change. The Gewog office is building shelters for parents and their children to live near the school. This has encouraged the parents to keep their children to continue studying in school.
Phuensum Deki Primary School is located next to Phangyuel Gewog office. There are more than 70 students there. However, due to less number of students, the school does not have a boarding facility today.
Some parents live near the school to look after their children in temporary sheds built by themselves. However, many students still walk for hours to get to school every day.
But the situation might change soon. A semi-permanent structure is almost nearing completion. This will accommodate around twelve students and their parents. Another structure will be built which will accommodate four students and their parents. The Gewog office is spending around Nu 1.4 M for construction.
“Parents are worried because the children had come across wild animals several times on their way to school. So, they have transferred their children to urban schools. Likewise, some parents who could not afford to send their children to urban schools have withdrawn them from school and sent them to monastic schools. That way, we have lost many students,” said Kinley Dendup, Phangyuel Mangmi.
Besides the shelter construction, the Gewog office has arranged other structures such as the Gewog ECCD centre to accommodate the students and parents for now as the academic year has already begun. Because of this, student enrolment has increased in the school.
“Our Gup told us to admit our children to our school, as the number of students there was very few. He told us that they would even arrange a place to stay for us nearby the school. We are currently staying in the ECCD building and we are thankful,” said Rinzin Wangmo, a parent.
“As we stay with our children in our self-made temporary sheds, it is difficult to maintain hygiene,” added Yeshi, another parent.
“We did not admit our children here in Phuensum Deki Primary School earlier, as the school is far from our home. Therefore, we have admitted our children to Kazhi Primary School, as the school was closer to our village,” said Kumbu Dem, a parent.
However, Kazhi Primary School has only a limited seat available. It mostly enrols students who come from Kazhi Gewog. So the only choice for most children of Phangyuel Gewog is to walk for hours to the school in their own Gewog.
“Some students hardly reach for morning breakfast as their homes are quite from the school. Let alone doing their homework, some of them are too tired to even take dinner after reaching home from school,” said Sonam Wangchuk, the Officiating Principal of Phuensum Deki Primary School.
The gewog office doesn’t intend to leave it there. Similar shelters will be built if needed in the future. Likewise, it plans to bring boarding facilities to the school by increasing the number of students. The gewog has around 200 households.
Meanwhile, the district education sector has no plans to provide boarding facilities to the students as of now. The office says for a school to be eligible for a boarding facility, it should have at least 100 students walking for more than five kilometres to the school.
Changa Dorji, Wangdue Phodrang
Edited by Kipchu