Students of Gomtu and Bajo schools to move to safe places for board exams
Although the students in class X and XII and their parents continue to worry due to the uncertainty over the board exams, however, the Ministry of Education (MoE) is ensuring that the board exams will be held on the scheduled dates, by following two new strategies.
Head, of the the Office of Performance Management, His Majesty’s Secretariat, Karma Yonten, said the current zoning system in the country has worked well during the lockdowns, so given the current COVID-19 situation, some of the principles of the zoning system will be applied to get the students to exam halls safely.
From a zoning perspective, the country is divided into high-risk areas and low-risk areas, and there are slightly different strategies for managing both areas.
The low-risk areas have adopted two strategies, which is containment center strategy for boarders and the other is the mega zone strategy for thromdes, like Thimphu.
In terms of safety in the containment centers for all the boarders, three things need to be maintained. Firstly, whenever students move into the containment center, they have to be test negative. Secondly, the security of the school has to be very tight so that the students, teachers and cooks who all are in the containment center should not be able to come out of the school at all, and also people from outside should not be allowed to come inside the school unless they are students, and thirdly, in terms requirement of essential items, these will be delivered in the school, based on strict protocols.
If these protocols are maintained strictly then the schools are probably the safest places to be at, and even if there is an outbreak outside school, there is no chance that the virus will get in, said Karma Yonten.
In boarding schools there are day scholar students as well, and if the day scholars cannot be accommodated in the school, then there will be provisions made for them to come in and do the exams. They will be separate classrooms and toilets for them. They will come and do the exam and leave without interacting with anyone stationed inside the school.
In a place, like Thimphu, where there are not many boarding schools, then a mega zone strategy will be followed, where Thimphu will be divided into four mega zones. So all the students falling in the respective mega zones will do the exams in the schools that fall in their zones. Nima High School and Dechenchholing Higher Secondary School are to be used as exam halls for students in the North Mega Zone. Similarly, the rest of the students in other mega zones will do the same.
There are students outside the Throm as well, and for them the education ministry will make provisions to stay within the city.
Even now, Thimphu is in the green, but this system will be followed because there is no guarantee that there won’t be another outbreak in the city, said Karma Yonten.
Karma Yonten said the red hotspots like Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Gomtu and Wangdue are not in a high-risk area, but it is a red zone because of so many COVID-19 positive cases. The containment strategy is being used in the red zone to move the students to the low-risk areas within the dzongkhags, if possible, or even outside of the dzongkhags.
Gomtu students will be moving to Dorokha High School and Bajo students are to be moved either to Gaselo or Thinleygang or to Shengana High School.
In case of an outbreak in the schools, like the major outbreak in one of the schools in Gelephu, because the students have received the vaccines, they are doing well and none of them have developed any serious illnesses.
Since the examinations are important, the health ministry has advised that the effects of the COVID-19 on young people do not seem to be very serious, and they can go on with the examinations even if there is one or two positive cases in the school.
The health ministry has mentioned that only if a student gets sick then they will be taken out of the exam hall and put into isolation and provided with treatment. But if they show mild symptoms, like headache, cough, they will be allowed to continue to do the exams.
Meanwhile, the Bhutan Council for School and Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA) official, Sherub Gyeltshen, said the board exams are very important, mainly for certifying, because a child who is doing exams in 10th or 12th standards has to be certified. The certificate is the main document required for further studies or job interviews as well.
And for the students stranded in other dzongkhags, their movement will be facilitated since there are students seeking to come back to schools and do their exams. There are more than 1,000 students stranded in other dzongkhags.