English | Dzongkha Friday, November 24, 2017

Never too old to learn


Nov 25, 2010

Menuka Rai

It is never too late to go to school. The students of Pachu Community Primary school stand testimony to it. Our Phuentsholing correspondent Dechen Wangmo says most of the students there entered school late, some at the age of 14, others at 13 and few at 12.

Menuka Rai is 16-year-old. At this age she should be in class 10. But she is not. Menuka is studying in class four. She joined school only at thirteen, 7 years beyond the school admission age.

“I couldn’t go to school early because the only school in my village was closed,” said Menuka Rai.

Pachu Community Primary School

Pachu Community Primary School was and still is the only school for Pachu and seven other nearby villages. But the school was closed in the 90’s due to security problems, preventing many children from these villages from joining school early.

Sending their children to study at faraway schools was too expensive for many parents who are farmers with little or no source of cash income. While many children stayed home helping their parents, some moved out of their village to work.

Sixteen-year-old Dil Maya went to the capital city where she worked as a baby sitter.

“I worked for more than a year. After my aunt (employer) left for Australia for further studies, I returned home. Few months later Pachu School reopened,” said Dil Maya.

Thirteen-year-old Nir Maya Jogi also worked as a baby sitter for six months.

When I saw children going to school, I wished I could go too. The god heard my prayers. Pachu School reopened and my parents came to get me.This is how I landed at the school,” said Nir Maya Jogi.

When Pachu Community Primary school reopened in 2008, like them many children were already in their teens. But for them it was better late than never.

Tshechu Dema

Gautam Mongar, a class four student, is 16-year-old.  Tshechu Dema and Amber Mongar, who are also studying in class four, are 15-year-old. “We are very happy that the school reopened before it was too late,” said Tshechu Dema.

“If the school had remained closed, we would have missed the opportunity to attend school,” said Gautam Mongar.

Sometimes it is embarrassing to be in the same class with younger children, said some of them. But the happiness over the fact that they are going to school overshadows everything.

“I am oldest in the class. Many of my classmates are just 9 and 10 years old,” said 16-year-old Menuka Rai.

Meanwhile, the school’s principal is all praises for their performance.

“Maybe because they are matured, it is very easy to deal with them. They learn fast and perform better than the younger children,” said Principal Nima Dorji.

The principal said the only problem with them is some drop out.  Despite the school authorities’ efforts to keep them, 4 students, between the age of 16 and 17, left the school recently.

However, some like Bal Bir Limbu were not so fortunate.

“Just as I turned 6, the school was closed. By the time school reopened I was already in my twenties. It’s not just me. There are about 25 of us who have not been able to study,” said Bal Bir Limbu.

But like all parents he is happy that his children are able to go to school. Parents just have one more wish. That is to have a boarding facility at the school. Majority of the students walk for two to three hours to and from school every day.

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