English | Dzongkha Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Lhops learn Dzongkha

Feb 28, 2011

The Lhop community in Dorokha, Samtse, is going through a sea change, thanks to the Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme.

The NFE provides village adults who missed out on education, the opportunity to learn to read and write. Only a few years ago, not many Lhops could communicate with anybody outside their community. They spoke a distinct dialect spoken only in their village. Now many village adults can not only speak Dzongkha fluently, they can also read and write.

Let’s take 20-year-old Wangda Rinzin for instance. He never went to school. By the time he was big enough to understand the value of education, it was too late. He was too old to enroll in a school. He always dreamt of going to school. He envied those who could read and write. When the education ministry opened a NFE centre not far from his village in 2006, he didn’t need any prodding.

In halting Dzongkha, Wangda Rinzin, said “our village did not have a school when I was of school going age. We had to walk for hours. So I stayed at home.”

Today, he walks for more than an hour from his village to the NFE centre. He is from Lotokuchu Wangchuck. The classes are held at the Tarayana Desho Paper Making Factory in Lotokuchu Jigme. The classes begin at 7 a.m.

Classes are held early in the morning so that the students can work in the fields during the day. Eighteen adults have completed the Basic Literacy Course where they were taught reading, writing and life skills. Currently they are in Post Literacy Course where they are also taught the importance of immunising their children and how to improve health and hygiene and protect the environment, among others.

Pendey Lham, one of the learners, said “I could not go to school because all my brothers and sisters were in school and there was nobody at home to help our parents.”

“I can speak Dzongkha now. I can get around easily when I travel out of my village.”

Khina Maya has been working as a NFE instructor since 2008.

“For the first three months, I had a difficult time communicating with them. They only spoke the Lhop dialect which I could not understand. Now they win prizes in debates and quiz competitions,” she said beaming with pride.

There are 65 NFE centres with more than 1,750 learners in Samtse district.

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