66 students withdraw from Orong School after last year’s deaths

Following the death of two students in Orong Higher Secondary School in Samdrup Jongkhar  due to nutritional deficiency last year, 66 of the 167 Class X students have withdrawn from the school.

The 66 students reportedly have withdrawn from the school because their parents did not want them to study there.

“We fear to send our children there because of the tragic incident which happened last year,” said a business woman from Samdrup Jongkhar who had her son moved to another school.

She also mentioned that the quality of food was poor and lacking in nutrients.

Princiapal Nima Wangchuk said that on an average, the number of students admitted in the school is almost the same as last year. “But the overall  number of students who qualified for class XI in the dzongkhag is less this year, so we have a slight decline in the number of students admitted,” he said.

However, the Chief Liaison Officer of the Department of Education under the Ministry of Education, Chencho Dorji, said that the reason for children changing schools were parent transfers or based on medical grounds.

Nima Wangchuk said that issues that led to deaths have been resolved  and everything was back to normal. “Even the children sent to Guwahati arrived back safely,” he said.

And the mess menu has also been changed after the school attended a week-long workshop on the importance of a balanced diet, best use of available resources and hygiene.

Talking to The Bhutanese, a cook at the school, Ugyen Dorji, feels that the workshop imparted valuable knowledge to them on the practice of cooking. “We even use meat masala as we are trained to cook using these spices,” he said.  He added that students are served a balanced diet now.

However, elderly dwellers near Orong School   feel there is no connection between the deaths of two children last year and the food served to students, though nutrition deficiency as the cause of death was confirmed by a special medical team.

They instead believe the deaths were caused by the wrath of a serpent deity (klu) whose abode was destroyed while building the school boys’ toilet, according to Nima Wangchuk.

The school resumed its academic session of 2012 with rituals performed to please the   deity.

“Village Lamas and the dwellers around advised us to perform such a ritual and now we are hoping that the local deity won’t harm us any more”, the principal said.

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