Increase in stipends will help solve Nutritional Deficiency in the boarding students

School faculty members are of the opinion that stipends of boarding students need to be increased in the face of the Rupee crisis-induced environment.

The faculty made the submission on the premise that in the serious turn that Rupee crunch made in the country, vegetable import had been restricted whereby increase in price of local farm products naturally came to be.

They said in all this shift of dynamics, the stipend for the students in the boarding schools in the country remained constant which resulted in the nutritional deficiency cases.

Case in question to exemplify were students who died from chronic nutritional deficiency on December 3 and December 12 last year. This time ‘round it had hit Lhuentse Higher Secondary School.

Principal of Lhuentse Higher Secondary School is not sure, that low stipends played a role in the recent cases of nutrition deficiency.

He however agreed the stipend should be increased. “We have voiced the increase in stipend in the annual education conference,” he said.

The Vice Principal of Zhemgang Higher Secondary School said the stipend has been Nu 700 per head for three meals for a long time and this sum is not sufficient to provide rich diet in the present scenario.

For now the school has a quotation for one year where they have fixed the rate with the vegetable vendors whereby proper diet can be ensured.

A teacher form Martshala School said increase in stipend is the only way to address such a problem.

Tshering Dorji, the Principal of Richen Higher Secondary School, who has also worked a boarding school previously shares that he had a problem handling diet those days also with Nu 700 stipend.

“At present, prices of the commodities really shot-up and at an inflation of 14%, the same stipend is not logical,” he said.

He said bulk supply of vegetables for mess and stopping of supply of vegetables from India would have obviously accelerated the problem.

The students’ term in the boarding school is almost a year which means adhere with poor diet for just as long.

“Within that period health conditions will have seriously deteriorated,” he said.

“I am worried about the quality of the batch of future generation that will step out of such a setting,” the incumbent Rinchen Higher Secondary School said.

He said the government can appraise this situation right now when it has not heightened to a point of no return and save a good chunk of population from poor health. “Otherwise government will land up spending millions and billions to recover the health,” he added.

The Principal of Nangkor Higher Secondary School said at present the price of the commodity costing Nu 60 has reached 80 and price of Potatoes for instance had increased from Nu 12 to Nu 18.”

The Director General (DG) of the Education ministry said less stipends could be the reason that the school is not able to provide the rich diet.

After the health team and education team went for the investigation and discovered the nutritional deficiency case, they deduced “it was because of poor diet.”

However the DG said in March this year the ministry proposed the Ministry of Finance requesting for increased stipend (from Nu 700 to Nu1300).

“We are waiting for a positive response from the finance ministry,” he said.

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  1. What would happen if the situation does not improve even after increasing the stipend? Who is to blamed? Will it solve the nutritional deficiency syndrome? I guess…

  2. 1. Certainly, there is a need to increase some percentage of stipend to provide just sufficient and enough to eat.

    2. Sometimes, the shopkeepers/suppliers would have compromised the business ethics by supplying the outdated items (adultered) food items make profit, I may be wrong but have enough ground to supsects as it is easier to supply such food items from our supply agents across the border . The MOE and MOEA, Customs may have to be vigilent of the supply of food items in all the boarding schools, it is even more crucial now as the mess system is being contracted out to the private individuals. This is not the first case, many students in similar geographical areas have suffered but has not featured in the news during those days; thanks to our media and forums now such things are captured and citizens informed. Its quite pitty that these innocent children are deprived of the most basic requirement to nourish their mind, body an overall growth. In Singapore and other nations, they talk of supplying each laptop as a bonus to their ciitizens, in our society, even the basic minimum requirement seems to be little hard to reach to our citizens. What does this mean to us? Are we so poor or do we need some kind of re-thinking in ensuring proper allocation of resources? It points out to certain things very prominiently: (1) a need to reduce unnecessary , luxury items to be reduced and the resoures saved from these to be reallocated to those areas where there is gap in the areas of need for basic requirement. (2) Similary, the salary and other perks of higher ranks to be reduced darastically and increase for those in the low ranks of staff. It is quite shameful to be noted that the DA for lower staff ranges from Nu. 140 to 180; how could one survive (the breakfast cost Nu. 75; lunch Nu.100; Dinner Nu.100 and room rate minimum of Nu. 200. Total costs Nu. 475; this is the minimum expenditure and they are paid Nu.140- what a shame!). I think our policy makers are little greedy as it is not a concern for them as they are paid enough. It is a problem we need to fix before becoming a majore problem.

  3. but i don’t think our government is going to increase that. First they need to sort out their benefits- driver allowances etc . I am just worried about Bhutan. Seeing our politicians. I hope everyone is not like that. GNH is all that they can talk. Future of our nation lies in the hands of our younger generation. That was what our 4th King used to remind us as a student. But this people did not hear that. I don’t know how they missed it. They were holding high post then.
    Again in the midst of all this troubles- INR shortage, students falling sick- they still have got guts to discuss about their retirement benefits and all. on other hand talking about tax. I think they have not fully understood the core concept of GNH.
    I have one request for all those who are joining into politics. If your main intention is to earn money then go for business but if you are someone who wants to make difference in the living standard of people and take forward the country then i think you must join. Else it is wastage of time and you will land up being the most hatred person in Bhutan.

  4. The mess management need to be improved. Principal need to monitor the quality of food on weekly basis. BAFRA need to check the school mess every month by giving surprise visit. I too support the increase of stipend. School management need to ensure that there is no corruption in procurement of vegetables.

  5. Causes of malnutrition in boarding schools

    1. items supplied are the cheapest, outdated and adulterated (of lower value than even the small stipend)

    2. no one to check and complain about this

    3. the buyer takes his cut (cash and the best part of the supplies)

    4. wholesale theft of rations by school cooks

    5. laziness of school cooks so they may be cutting back on hygiene and not cooking properly

    Can BAFRA do spot checks on all school kitchens?

    Who will monitor the supplier and buyer of school rations?

    Who will bring the mighty cooks to task? Very few bhutanese have the stomach to discipline cooks and drivers.

    Who will check that the children are getting even the small amount that their small stipend buys?

    Can children grow vegies and supply to school as part of their extra curricular activities or as part of practical agriculture?

  6. Have a dietician calculate the minimum dietary requirement of a growing, active child/ student and make a simple meal plan. Multiply that by average hostel capacity and derive a monthly stipend based on bulk purchase of commodities. That should be the basis of calculating stipend and not just any figure off one’s head. We should care for our children if we need a healthy and progressive Bhutan. They are all our own children.

  7. Proper mess management is require to give good diet.

  8. lakeman

    that’s a good basis for calculating dietary requirements and stipends. But if we don’t improve supervision and management, all the thieves (seller, buyer, storekeeper, cooks and god knows who else) the best calculations and allocations will only fill the pockets and cupboards of the thieves instead of children’s stomachs. I bet that right now the children are not even getting their Nu.700 worth of food.

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