A total of 51 central schools have been established within this year where 27 are newly established based on the studies on the number of youth and general population and also the remoteness of that area of the country.
Central schools are not only expected to generally improve the quality of school education but it is also expected to positively impact and benefit students studying in rural areas. The provision of hostel facilities is expected to reduce the rural drudgery of travelling many hours to get education.
This is the second year of establishment of central schools with some general parameters.
The schools are centrally located in large population catchment areas with residential space for 80 percent of students and day student facilities of 20 percent.
The basic target is to have a class from Pre Primary (PP) till ten or till twelve with a minimum of 800 numbers of students being enrolled per school.
Some current facilities that have been provided are free school uniforms, sports ware, bedding, and mid-day meal for day scholars.
The core intention of government to start central schools is for a strategic school-based reform programme to provide more wholesome quality education at an integrated and centrally located autonomous boarding school as opposed to the existing many small and unsustainable schools all over the country.
With the establishment of a central school in Ura, Bumthang, the principal Lhawang Norbu said, “Quality education will be looked into and the exposure of students will bring students a positive impact.” Being a newly established central school, the major challenges faced as of now is the insufficient infrastructure to accommodate more number of students and the higher administrative pressure compared to the past years.
He says that it is well known that the students in urban area are comparatively better in terms of confidence and dealing with the people due to exposure and digital learning, educated parents and tuition.
Therefore, the same is expected to happen in the rural area with the establishment of the central school where the optimum facilities will be provided “The more number of students creates the greater environment for the competent learning and hence there will be greater exposure and exchange of ideas among students and teachers” he added.
Gesarling Central School principal Mr. Tashi Wangdi says that the best thing about the central school is that it is in large helping the poor and needy families who can’t afford the school uniforms and stationeries. This is despite some challenges like administration burden, admission pressure and lack of some infrastructure facilities. “Otherwise it is one of the best initiatives taken by government to establish a central school and they should further establish more of such schools in some of the most remote parts of the country.”
“One of the challenges also found in the central school is that with increased number of students, it becomes a little difficult for us to monitor the behavior and activities of the individuals.” he said.
Gesarling Gup Mani Kumar Ghishing said that with the good initiative taken by the government it is also seen that some urban youth are also vying for the admission in central schools due to the facilities. He also said “Despite every work being done by the nearby households in cooperation with the school, the facilities are only provided to the boarding students and not to the day scholars other than the mid-day meal and that could be one drawback”.
The Tang Gup Thinley Namgyal is grateful to the government for introducing such facilities in a country. “Government is giving the top most priority in education which is very important for the future and nation building and so it should continue further”.
36 year old Nar Maya, from Nimchula gewog in Dagana and a mother of four says that she can’t be more thankful to government for such an initiative. Currently, three of her children are studying in central schools and one graduated from a central school last year. “It was very difficult for me to raise all the four school going children and now that everything is provided free in the central school, my burden is really eased, otherwise I would be running in debt for the purchase of stationaries and school uniforms”.
Karma Yangzom’s mother, Aum Wangmo, 48 from Goshi Gewog says, “Everyone is happy with the concept of Central School. I’m so happy that my daughter is getting all the facilities that we as poor farmers can’t provide her”.
The Coordinator for the Central School Unit, Mr. Kaka said that one of the main intentions of the government to establish the central school is to keep the students in the same school with the best facilities so that the students will be well attached with the vibrant culture of school and gain a holistic education from the dedicated school which helps the students in many possible ways.
“The Education Ministry is also trying to extend the duration for the teachers for this reason” he said.
He also said that one major impact the establishment of central school is to reduce rural urban migration. He said, “As people believe that quality education and exposure is more in urban schools, more people are opting to admit their children in urban schools where it is very difficult to handle the admission like for example in Thimphu”. “So now with the facilities and exposure provided in central schools, it would prevent rural urban migration,” he added.
He said that due to a large integrated resource base, people might question about the sustainability. However, he said that it would further save budget and have a better scope for sustainability in the long run as opposed to the existing small and unsustainable school system with little or very little educational resources.
“It will be too expensive for the government to provide every facility for each and every school” adding that it would also be easier for deployment of the teacher and so there would be optimal utilization of the resources.
He said central schools would also reduce the heavy and numerous expenditure for repair and maintenance as there would be fewer large schools with quality infrastructure. It would also ease the burden in conducting in-service trainings, preparing national youth action plan and determining the national curriculum and teacher development programme based on evidence based research studies.
He said, “Our first phase of Human Resource (HR) requirements have been approved by the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and are to be deployed in some schools to improve the facilities.”
He said that the approval for the deployment of nurse or health assistant need to get an approval from Ministry of Health (MoH) which is to be deployed in four schools across the country where the BHU lies more than 10 km away.
Ultimately the main beneficiaries of the central school system will be the rural students and also poor students who usually come from the same background.
The article was made possible due to support from the Department of Information and Media.