Without boarding or teacher’s quarter facilities, it’s a 10 km hike back and forth
Going to school in remote Bhutan involves hours of walking. In Samcholing, Trongsa, it is not just some students either.
The 121 students and 10 teachers of the recently upgraded lower secondary school walk uphill for hours to their school without boarding or teacher’s quarter facilities. Located above the main Samcholing village, there is no settlement around for teachers to rent houses and all the 16 teaching and non-teaching staff walk five and half km every day to reach the school. Some students walk about 10 km.
The only female teacher in the school, Shoba G, stays in Kuengarabten. “I wake up at 5 am every morning and walk for an hour and a half to reach school,” she said.
The 2.7 km farm road that connects the school from the Trongsa-Zhemgang highway is not pliable.
Farmers of Samcholing, who live on a sharecropping system and own little land of their own, are not happy too. “We’re the least developed people and our children have no bordering facilities,” said a 52-year-old father. “If the school wasn’t in our village, our children would avail hostel facilities in Taktse middle secondary school,” said another villager.
Walking for hours early in the morning tires students and teachers, which hamper daily lessons, according to a teacher, who chose anonymity. “Students don’t get the attention they deserve and they can’t not give attention in classes too,” he said. “Some students doze off in the first period itself.
The situation becomes worse during monsoons. With incessant rainfall, the rivers get swollen and the footpath becomes too slippery. “I fell down several times and had to take leave,” Shoba G said.
The principal of the school, Tshering Wamling, said that classes had to be called off for about three days, as most students could not make it to school.
Tshering Wamling told Kuensel that the teachers would have to bear the problem for this academic year but things are expected to improve in future, if the road condition is improved and the proposal for a three unit teacher’s quarter materialises. “Taking into consideration the economic situation of the place, I’ve put up a proposals for hostel facilities in the gewog yargye tshogdue,” he said.
The gewog is aware of the problems faced by teachers and students, according to Drakteng gup Tenzin. “Samcholing school was upgraded because Kuengarabten primary school could not be upgraded due to lack of space,” he said.
Gup Tenzin said that the construction of teachers’ quarter is in the pipeline and the proposal for hostel facility was also discussed in the dzongkhag yargye tshogdue. “It depends on the education office in the dzongkhag to provide the facility,” he said, adding that the education office rejects the proposals on grounds that the school is located near the road head and village. “Samcholing was planned as a day school and day schools don’t get any hostel facilities,” said the district education officer in Trongsa, Karma Sonam.
However, gup Tenzin said that teachers could stay in Samcholing village. “But most prefer to stay in Kuengarabten because of lack of electricity in Samcholing,” he said. “An electricity connection could solve the problem.”
By Tashi Dema, Trongsa