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A fatherโ€™s apprentice artisan-Clay Moulding

โ€ฆthe boy is a young apprentice to his father and during 2022 winter vacation he even moulded the stupa of Tempa (Buddha)

By Sonam Deki

The Skills Training and Education Pathways Up-gradation Project: Summary Sector Assessment – Education mentions, โ€œIn order for Bhutan to continue growing as a lower middle-income economy, skills development is required to address the unmet need for medium and advanced skills. The development of skills will also assist Bhutanโ€™s youth in finding long-term employment that will lay the groundwork for eradicating poverty and promoting equitable growth. Youth unemployment is a problem that the government is aggressively addressing because they are currently considered to be a vulnerable population in Bhutan.โ€

Likewise, Ugyen Tandin Rabzang, Class V, is a young apprentice to his father, who is learning from his father the art of making clay statues. He is also the class representative.

Ugyen Tandin Rabzang said, โ€œI started learning little by little from very early on. When I was in class 4, I learnt the most of what I know now about clay moulding. I even constructed the Stupa of Tempa in the winter of 2022. Even now, I still work with my father after I get home from school. The pieces make me internally happy.โ€

The young man said, โ€œWhen I grow up, I want to be a doctor by profession because those are the vocations people consider stable. However, clay moulding will always be my love and something that I do in my free time.

According to a study by a Ph.D. student at the Carson Newman-University, the involvement of parents in their childrenโ€™s education has a positive effect on their achievements; the more they are involved, the better the child performs.

Pema Thinley, father of a child deserves appreciation for bequeathing his knowledge and skill of moulding clay statues to his son.

Pema Thinley, after completing his class 10 he enrolled himself in Kawajangsa Zorig Chusumโ€™s clay sculpture program in 2006. He studied clay sculpture for three years in Nepal before returning to help with clay moulding lessons in Gelephu. In 2016, he went to Serbithang where he worked as support staff because his revenue from clay sculptures was insufficient. Even though his contract with the company has expired, he continues to works on clay moulding as a hobby. He is currently employed by the Barshong Hospital as a support staff.

Pema Thinley said, โ€œThe amount is variable; sometimes we make approximately Nu. 20,000 or Nu. 30,000 per month, and other times we make about Nu. 10,000. As my children graduate from school, I plan to work full time on my interests.โ€

He said, โ€œI have four sons; Ugyen Tandin Rabzang is the oldest among them and he is only 11 years old. I occasionally help him learn the technique for creating clay statues, and he is doing well, so I believe he will make incredible Jimzo (clay artisan) in the future. For the time being, his studies come first therefore I always make sure he completes his homework and revision before starting to mould clay statues. Not only is he doing great in Jimzo, he is doing well in his studies too.โ€

One cannot entirely rely on study to thrive in this world. He said, โ€œOne should also improve their abilities.โ€ โ€œI make sure to pay him a little bit as well because heโ€™s working and learning at the same time,โ€ he continued.
โ€œTandinโ€™s passion in clay moulding has also influenced the parents of other children, which is why they are also talking about sending their children to study this craft as well,โ€ he said in his conclusion. โ€œBut I havenโ€™t received anyone yet.โ€

Minister Karma Dorji, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment said, โ€œThe prosperity of nations depends on the presence of skilled workers. Due to the need for trained workers in both the public and commercial sectors, TVET graduates have a variety of employment options.โ€

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