By Tashi Dendup
Students of Khatoeykha Primary School under Logchina Gewog in Chhukha Dzongkhag are having nightmares walking long distances to school and also face difficulties as there are no sufficient teachers.
The only school in the community was established in 2012 as a Community School with 64 students and four teachers, of which two were contract teachers.
However, after the pandemic struck the two contract teachers left their jobs putting a bigger strain on the other teachers to handle the whole school. Parents and students alike say this has greatly become an impediment to learning as the two teachers alone are not able to meet the entire shortage.
As of today the school has 112 students and seven teachers with Khina Maya as the officiating Principal of the school. Deki Dema one of the teachers of Khatoeykha Primary School said that due to shortage of teachers, and because of the pandemic, students could not study well and complete their syllabus on time.
She said teachers have to teach students beginning from the basic as many could not cover the contents on time. Teachers are also forced to teach many subjects which are tiring and could compromise on the overall quality and performance of the students.
The fact that most of the parents are illiterate also compounds to the problem as most students do not receive the required guidance at home.
In addition, the students have to walk for hours to reach their school and after reaching school they are tired, sleepy and couldn’t focus and concentrate in the class. Parents and teacher alike said with the change in season, most of the students fall sick and their wet uniform stinks because of being exposed to rain.
A few of them also couldn’t come to school because of the long walking distance which was further aggravated by the covid-19 pandemic.
Teachers said some of the students after reaching home get exhausted while some help parents in their fields which really hamper their study time. Students while coming to school during monsoon season faces many challenges like getting exposed to rain, extreme heat and possible landslides that could prove fatal.
Some parents are also concerned about their children walking long distances through thick jungles and crossing raging streams. A father of a student, Roshni Rai who is studying in class 3, who works as a farmer said his two daughters have to walk more than 30 minutes everyday to reach their school from their village in Jachu.
The father of two said it would be extremely beneficial for the community if the government could allocate hostel facilities for students so that they don’t have to walk long distances and also get more time to study.
Similarly, Choda a parent of a class V student studying in the same school, said that the students go to school with fear of bear attacks and snakes during the summer seasons. He added there is also no principal in the school and has been that way for more than a year since the start of the pandemic.
Another parent, mother of Tshering Dorji of class 5 from Euzhi village, said that her son has to wake up early around 5:30 am and go to school, often in the dark, and reaches back home only around 6 pm. She said her son has to walk around 1 hour to reach which is very tiring and dangerous for her children.
The communities of Logchina are desperately hoping for a new principal in their school and to introduce boarding facilities for students who live in far-flung villages.
However, until the matter subsides, the more than one hundred students will have to continue their journey to school amid torrential rain and sun, and through the maze of jungles.
Nonetheless, hope still remains.