Advocating For A Central School For The Sakteng Community In Bhutan

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Mangmi Lhendrup said that without boarding facilities, small children were left without care and guidance from their parents.

(Source: Facebook/Sakteng Lower Secondary School)

 

By Neten Dorji Kuensel

At this time of the year, Sakteng is silent. Very silent. The only sound is that of school children playing during breaks.

Most of the elders have already left the village with their cattle to pastures higher up in the mountains.

Pema Rinchen, 15, lives all by himself. He locks the door and leaves for school every morning where he gets two meals with other students. However, he makes his dinner himself.

The Sakteng Lower Secondary School (LSS) in Trashigang does not have boarding facilities and the highlanders have been waiting for a central school.

Sakteng’s Gup Sangay Dorji said that the gewog administration has proposed several times to upgrade the Sakteng Lower Secondary School to a central school.

 

Photo: Facebook/Sakteng Lower Secondary School

 

However, the government did not see the need to do so as the villages are all located close by the school.

Rationale for establishing a central school

“If the government could upgrade the school to a central school, our children would be able to get more time to study.”

Most of the houses in Sakteng are locked and only those without cattle or with old people stay back in the village.

A 62-year-old villager, Dorji Wangdi, said that most of the children were alone while their parents were away with the cattle. Some were left in the care of their neighbours.

“We don’t have an option but to keep the children on their own at home. Since we depend on animals, we have to migrate to higher altitude during summer and to the lowlands in winter,” he said.

 

Source: Facebook/Sakteng Lower Secondary School

 

Mangmi Lhendrup said that without boarding facilities, small children were left without care and guidance from their parents.  

“A central school or one with boarding facilities will help the Sakteng community,” he said.

Negative consequences of leaving students at home alone

According to Sangay Dorji, 60 percent of the students stay alone at home. About 10 percent are in the care of neighbours while 30 percent live with their parents or elders.

A Sakteng businessman is worried that if the children are left on their own, they will get spoilt.

“There is the risk like abusing drugs and girls getting exploited. Moreover, there is no one at home to guide them after school,” he said.

 

Photo: Facebook/Sakteng Lower Secondary School

 

A resident, Passang said that they were informed about a plan to start one central school in every highland community.

“With an upgradation, students can complete their basic education within the locality. We need not send our children to other villages,” he said.

The resident said that at least by providing boarding facilities, this would help the children to complete school.

Meanwhile, the Dzongkhag Education Officer, Phuntsho said that the Dzongkhag education sector had proposed for the upgradation of Sakteng LSS to a central school in the 12th Plan.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


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