Yangchen C Rinzin
A total of 480 public school teachers left the system between 2018 and 2019, 125 more than last year.
Going by the records, 2019 saw the highest attrition rate (5.44 percent) in the last five years, according to the Annual Education Statistics 2019 released yesterday.
In last one year, 480 teachers left the system as of May 2019 compared to 355 in 2018 and 198 in 2015.
Over the last five years, on an average, 3.89 percent of teachers have left the education system from public schools.
The record also shows that over the last five years, 1,575 teachers have left the system. Of the total, the highest number of teachers that left the system by type of service are civil servants with 1,165, followed by expatriate contract teachers (199), and national contract teachers (181).
The reason for leaving the system include voluntary resignation, superannuation, expiry of contract besides other reasons like termination and unfortunate events such as death.
Majority of the teachers left the system on voluntary resignation followed by the expiry of contract and superannuation. The report showed that in the last one year, a total of 277 teachers resigned voluntarily, which is an increase of 14 compared to 2018.
Eight teachers were compulsorily retired, 57 superannuated, 103 left because of expiry of contract, and 35 left because of other reasons.
A total of 26 teachers were sent on compulsory retirement in the past five years since 2015.
According to the report, the number of expatriate teachers has also decreased while the number of national teachers has been increasing over the last five years.
Today, there are 163 expatriate teachers in both public and private schools with the majority in the higher secondary schools while the national teachers stand at 9,481.
The country also has 119 counsellors nationwide as of May against 707 public schools including ECCD centres, ECR, schools with SEN programmes, central schools, and autonomous schools.
As of today, the average student-teacher ratio for public schools is 18 students per teachers in the public school and 17 students in private schools. It is 11 students per teacher in private primary schools while it is 17 in primary public schools.
As of 2018, there are 2,659 teachers pursuing B.Ed and PGDE programmes in the two colleges of education, which is a slight increase in the overall enrolment compared to 2017.
Chimi Dema | Soe
In the country’s smallest gewog located at the base of Mount Jomolhari, more than 300 people gathered to attend the seventh Jomolhari mountain festival on October 14.
Without any festivals in the locality like in other parts of the country, people from Naro and Lingzhi gewogs as well as Yaktsa and Nubri villages of Tsento gewog in Paro walk for hours to witness the festival.
Dressed in traditional costume, Mindu Gyem, 73, from Lingzhi gewog walked about six hours to perform boedra at the festival.
She said she wished if similar festival could also be organised in her gewog.
The Jomolhari festival started since 2013 to encourage snow leopard conservation through community participation.
According to Soe gup Kencho Dorji, the festival was initiated to create awareness among the highlanders to conserve the species, which was killed in the past as it is seen as a threat to the livestock.
While the exact population of the snow leopard is not known, the species moving down in vulnerable group from threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s list indicates the conservation success in the northern frontiers of the country.
“In addition, the festival is also expected to promote eco-tourism opportunities in the locality,” the gup said.
According to local people, the number of tourists visiting for the festival is increasing every year, which helps them to generate income.
The theme this year is “Celebrating the harmonious co-existence between the highlanders and Snow Leopard: the ghost of high mountains”.
The first day started at Dangochong, Soe gewog centre, with the recitation of Zhabten for His Majesty The King.
There were native cultural programmes of highlanders, horse race and entertaining activities.
The second day was a hike to the base of Jomolhari and Jichudrakey and visit to Tshophu Lake. Other traditional dances and sports were also organised.
Meanwhile, business has picked up for some local vendors. Food and souvenir stalls were prepared to display local edible items and other products.
A group of men organised horse and yak riding for the guests and tourists.
Health minister Dechen Wangmo, who was the chief guest, highlighted the importance of preserving the unique culture and tradition in the country as well as environment conservation.
As a part of the festival, health awareness and screening programme was also organised for the highlanders, targeting mainly women to screen for cervical cancer by Thimphu dzongkhag in collaboration with Bhutan Foundation and health ministry.
The national veterinary hospital, Menjong Sorig Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited, Bank of Bhutan and National Biodiversity Centre had opened stalls to offer doorstep services to the highlanders.
Sponsored by the government and Tourism Council of Bhutan, the festival is coordinated by Lingzhi drungkhag in collaboration with Soe gewog administration.
The festival is also co-sponsored by Bhutan Foundation, Bhutan for Life, Bank of Bhutan and Menjong Sorig Pharmaceutical.
The festival was formally initiated in 2013 by Jigme Dorji National Park which had also spearheaded the celebration until 2017.
The two-day festival ended yesterday.
Yangchen C Rinzin
A Mumbai-based company, Minex Metallurgical Company Ltd (MMCL), had requested the Phuentsholing drungkhag court to enforce Supreme Court’s (SC) June 21 judgment.
The SC had upheld High Court’s bench I verdict, which was rendered in July 2018.
The verdict ordered SKW Tashi Metals and Alloys Pvt Ltd to pay Nu 10.95 million to MMCL within three months, which ends by September 23.
Since SKW Tashi Metals and Alloys Pvt Ltd MMCL did not pay the money, MMCL had submitted the enforcement letter on October 1 for not complying the order.
The two companies had done business between 2013 and 2015.
According to the verdict, the general manager of SKW Tashi Metal and Alloys Pvt Ltd met with the managing director of MMCL at the Radisson Hotel in New Delhi, India on September 9, 2015. The general manager, Klee Rainer agreed to supply 100 metric tonnes (MT) of Calcium Silicide within a month.
As asked by the SKW Tashi Metal and Alloys Pvt Ltd, the client deposited Nu 10M on September 21, 2015. However, a conflict between the partners of the company, SKW Stahl Metallurgy Holding AG and SKW- Tashi Metal and Alloys Pvt Ltd hampered production.
Later it was found that SKW Tashi Metal and Alloys Pvt Ltd had closed since July 2015, more than two months before the meeting in New Delhi. The client (MMCL) learnt about the closure only a month later when it sent an official to inquire about the supply. The client’s repeated requests to refund the money were also ignored.
The High Court observed that Klee Rainer of SKW- Tashi Metals and Alloys Private Ltd with the knowledge that his company was closed, solicited dealing in trade and willfully misrepresented the sale of goods with intent and prior knowledge that it cannot be supplied violates an obligation to good faith.
Section 6 of the Commercial Sales of Goods Act 2001 states that every contract or duty within this Act imposes an obligation of good faith in its performance or enforcement. Section 9 (ix) defines good faith as honesty and faith and the observance of reasonable standards of fair dealing. In the case of a merchant, it also requires reasonable standards of fair dealing in the trade.
The verdict stated that knowingly that the goods cannot be supplied and the company took an advance of Nu 10M, is the height of commercial misrepresentation, fraud and condemnable act.
The case was first registered at the Phuentsholing drungkhag court in 2017 and the verdict had ordered the company to refund the amount. The case was appealed to Chukha dzongkhag court, which upheld the drungkhag court judgment.
Rinchen Zangmo | Tsirang
A survey health ministry conducted this year revealed a steady decline in the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and salt intake.
The survey was conducted to assess the prevalence of the behavioural as well as physiological risk factors using the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) step-wise approach to non-communicable disease (NCD) surveillance.
The survey referred to as STEP 2019 survey was presented at the biennial health conference held in Tsirang last month.
Deputy chief programme officer with the NCD division, Pemba Yangchen, said that WHO recommended every country to conduct STEP survey to assess the prevalence of risk factors, health coverage, implementation of key policies and programmes. “STEP is actually a process with three steps, the first step being the interviewing process or the behavioural as well as the metabolic risk factors.”
The other two are physical measurements and biochemical measurements.
STEP was conducted after five years in the country to track the prevalence of risk factors and health coverage. It is the second STEP survey after the first one in 2014.
A cross-sectional national survey was conducted between April and July this year. A multi-Stage sampling design was used to collect data that was representative of the age group between 15 and 19 years of age.
A total of 5,575 participants were recruited with 99 percent response rate.
Pemba Yangchen said that despite the restriction against smoking, the study found that about 22.9 percent of the population used tobacco at the national level. “This trend was higher among the male with 32.9 percent while the female was at 11.8 percent.”
However, there was a steady decline in the trend in comparison to the 2014 STEP survey.
At the national level, about 33.1 percent of the population consumed alcohol. The trend again was seen higher in male with 40.1 percent consuming alcohol and female at 25.1 percent.
Pemba Yangchen said that although alcohol was deeply rooted in Bhutanese culture, a decline in the trend was observed over the past five years.
She said that the 2014 STEP survey did not include beetle nut survey. “At the national level, 56.8 percent of the population were found consuming beetle and areca nut, with higher consumption in male at 57.6 percent this year.”
Female was at 55.9 percent, she said. “Region-wise, people in western consumed more than the central or eastern. However, when it came to alcohol, the eastern region topped the list.”
Using the standards of WHO, the survey found that 86.4 percent of the population weren’t consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, she said. “WHO recommends a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables. I believe it is because of the availability and affordability of fruits and vegetables.”
Six percent of the population did not meet the WHO recommended physical activity. For assessing the physical inactivity, the intensity and duration undertaken by the work, transport or recreational activity were considered.
A physical activity of less than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended by WHO which can involve walking, swimming and bicycling.
For physical measurements, height and weight are measured to calculate the nutritional status of the body mass index. Blood pressure was also measured for the survey.
Using the WHO cutoff standards at the national level, 33.5 percent of the population was overweight. Of these, 11.5 percent were obese and 3.1 percent of the population was underweight.
Pemba Yangchen said that it was seen higher among female. “While the trend remained almost the same for overweight and underweight categories when it came to obesity, the trend doubled over a period of five years. The affected lot were women.”
At the national level, the survey indicated that 28 percent of the population had raised blood pressure. It was observed higher in male with 31.6 percent and female at 24 percent. However, a steady decline observed from 2014.
About 1.9 percent population had raised blood sugar with the raised blood sugar being higher in female at 2.1 percent. About 1.8 percent of raised blood sugar observed in male. The overall trend was also in decline.
Although the overall trend was observed to be declining, female had higher raised cholesterol at 12 percent. At the national level, about 10.6 percent of the population had bad cholesterol.
The deputy chief programme officer said that excessive salt is believed to cause hypertension. “Hypertension is a major cause of premature death. WHO recommends 5gms of salt per day, however, at the national level, the mean salt intake was 8.3, which is higher.”
The trend was seen higher in male at 9.1 percent and female at 7.4 percent. The mean salt intake was a decline in the trend.
To address all these issues, she said that the health ministry was planning to reinforce a people-centred approach, which is currently being implemented in Tsirang and Wangdue.
Pay is significantly important. But it is not the sole determinant, by any means.
Our civil servants are recognised for the best even as they are visibly the poorest performers, with medals and decorations of kinds and kinds.
There is a need for a systemic overhaul. Looking at the civil service, the way it functions and the powers it is given to is not the way if the country is to move forward.
If we must acknowledge anyone for good national service, let the medals go to those who have made some difference in the lives of the nation’s many people and the systems that have left them vastly entrapped.
For a nation like Bhutan, strengthening of the social sectors is important. That’s why, recently, our professionals in the health and education sectors were given the biggest salary rise.
But, time has now come, particularly for Bhutan, to adopt a culture that is time-specific. Root out the old and bring in the new. Recognise the knowledge and the new ideas because the past has begun to serve us less than little.
Let us bring in the picture of resource, too. The well spent, the better, because the waste also is becoming more pronounced by the day.
The truth is though even as we have given them a good raise, teachers continue to leave the system. A profound thought comes to mind that was made plain by one of the foremost Bhutanese educators not so long ago: “Our teachers will forever be paid less because what they offer is priceless.”
But then, we will come to know the true loss only after the many sectors have mustered the courage to tell us how many good individuals they have lost in the many years.
Our professionals may not be leaving jobs solely because of pay. Have we looked at the systems wherein they are made to work? Performers and true professionals do not find home in a constricted boundary of la and las. The Marey-Laso attitude that has been the bane of our development system for many years, which we thought was long behind us, is haunting us again.
We might talk good about the youth and the civil servants, again and again, but we are perhaps missing the real point. Nation-building is about individual responsibility and that doesn’t have to wait for honours and medals.
What is needed, imperatively, is a space to grow which seems to be lacking. And this points to a real need for a systemic overhaul. For Bhutan, it is now or never.
Dechen Tshomo | Lingzhi
Two Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres in Lingzhi drungkhag, which have remained closed since opening earlier this year, are likely to open next year.
Education ministry approved the establishment of two ECCD centres at Chaphu and Gongyul in November last year.
A dzongkhag official said that initially the ECCD centres were planned to start by midyear this year.
However, the request to recruit facilitators remained pending with the Royal Civil Service Commission. The centres could not function for lack of facilitators.
The RCSC approved the request to recruit the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) facilitators a few months ago.
The dzongkhag official said the dzongkhag will soon announce the vacancies for the facilitators.
The dzongkhag renovated a community centre with an additional attached toilet in Gongyul and a room attached to the Lingzhi primary school at Chaphu was identified for the centres.
The ECCD centre at Chaphu in Lingzhi was inaugurated on April 25 this year and about 18 children and parents attended the programme.
The parents, who attended the celebration were also educated on the importance and benefits of early child care and development programme.
Located above 4,000 meters above the sea level, Lingzhi is one of the most populated gewog among the three high altitude gewogs in Lingzhi drungkhag. It has 86 households.
The three gewogs in Lingzhi have about 47 eligible children to avail of the ECCD facility. The official said that the people in Soe and Lingzhi in Thimphu are mobile in nature and some of the families are settled in Paro so not all 47 students are expected to avail the service.
“We are expecting at least 30 students to enrol and avail of the service in the two centres in the coming academic year,” the official said.
The ECCD centre at Gangyul and Chaphu were established with financial support from the UNICEF.
According to the annual education statistics 2019, there are about 8,743 students enrolled in 379 ECCD centres across the country with 820 facilitators.
A new collaboration between Bhutan and India will be exhibited in the field of fashion and textile heritage of the two countries.
In an effort to encourage traditional textiles and weaving, both a forte of the two countries and to foster collaboration between the traditional textile artisans and designers, a textile presentation called Khadi-Thagzo will be held later today at Royal Textile Academy (RTA) in Thimphu.
Four leading Bhutanese designers – Chandrika Tamang, Kencho Wangmo, Tshering Choden and Sangay Choden including three Indian designers – Anamika Khanna, Rajesh Pratap Singh and Samant Chauhan will be displaying some 48 ensembles made using Khadi and traditional Bhutanese fabric.
Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Ruchira Kamboj, said that the event is also to celebrate Bhutan-India friendship and to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The president of Fashion Design Council of India, Sunil Sethi, said that the programme would not just be a fashion event but an opportunity to further foster the collaboration between the two countries through fashion.
Khadi according to Sunil Sethi symbolises purity, which was adapted by Gandhi and represents a Spartan life. “In the age of global fashion trends, Khadi represents a life about minimalism.”
He said that since Gandhi believed in purity, the fashion show would not exhibit the usual glamour associated with such events. “We wanted to start with the purity factor, which is also our first connect to Bhutan.”
RTA’s executive director, Rinzin O Dorji, said that the event is a platform to showcase the talent of Bhutanese designers. “Our designers would be working with Khadi and combinations of different traditional Bhutanese textiles,” she said.
In doing so, she said that it will promote and popularise the Bhutanese designers and traditional textiles in India and at the same time bring bout the similarities that the two countries have in their textile traditions.
Last week five Bhutanese designers took part in the India fashion week to explore the fashion industry there.
Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said that, “We are opening up collaboration between the two countries in the textile sector and it is in our interest, that every year we’ll sent four to five designers to attend the fashion week.”
Although a recent phenomenon in Bhutan, Sunil Sethi said that the fashion industry has found a firm footing in the country. “ I was pleasantly surprised when I visited some of the showrooms of the designers here in Bhutan. They were actually ahead of their game.”
He said that the designers have combined tradition into current trend and had a clear understanding of fashion. “Next year in March, we’ll have a Bhutanese stall at the India fashion week to help promote the Bhutanese crafts.”
Bhutanese designers might not be well known as yet, he said. “However, RTA is well respected in India. Many people come to Bhutan to visit the academy for inspirations,” he said. “It is opening up a new frontier of tourism – fashion and textile tourism.”
It was also learnt that a Bhutanese designer, Dorothy Gurung, would be opening up the first Indian Khadi outlet in Bhutan towards the end of the year or beginning next year.
At the sideline, a food festival, Benarsi Satvik Bhojan, a pure vegetarian cuisine would also be served after the fashion event.
Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar
Thousands of people gathered at Yongla Riwo Pelbar Dargeycholing Goenpa in Pemagatshel to receive nidrup la-wang on the morning of October 14 at the conclusion of phurpa drupchen.
People has gathered since early morning to receive the blessing of the main relic of Yongla Goenpa – ter-phur (ritual dagger).
Former drabi lopen of Zhungdratshang, Sangay Dorji, presided over the week-long annual drupchen along with 210 monks from Pemagatshel rabdey since October 6.
Phurpa or Vajrakilaya is the wrathful yidam (tutelary deities) who embodies the enlightened activity of all the Buddhas.
Lopen Sonam Tobgay of Pemagatshel rabdey said Vajrakilaya practise is considered as the most powerful teachings for removing obstacles, destroying the forces hostile to compassion and purifying the spiritual pollution prevalent in this degenerated times.
He said Phurpa has more than 130 deities, including two consorts of which one is in union with the main deity and another hidden.
Sonam Tobgay said drupchen is a form of an intensive practice that epitomises the depth, power and precision of the Vajrayana Buddhism, drawing together the entire range of skilful methods, mystical, ritual and creation of the mandala of yidam among others.
During the drupchen, he said that the monks also do a complete sadhana practice with visualisation, mudra and chant among others.
He said the drupchen is considered to be sacred and famous because it was believed that the drupchen was performed to destroy or to protect the Kamarupa’s battle from India. It has been more than 300 years today.
The Yongla Goenoa drupchen was said to have begun right from the time of Khendrup Jigme Kuendrel but however, it lost some of its significance during the successive lams. Lam Sonam Zangpo restored it to its present glory in the 1960s.
Since the Phurpa is the main relics of Yongla Riwo Pelbar Dargeycholing Goenpa, the Phurpa drupchen is performed annually to seek blessings from the deities for peace and harmony in the country.
Yongla Goenpa was founded and blessed by Khendrup Jigme Kuendrel following the instruction based on the vision of his master Rigzin Jigme Lingpa in the 18th century. It is believed to have been built by the second Yongla lam Dorji Jamtsho in 1736 after the demise of Khendrup Jigme Kuendrel.
Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse
More than 15,000 people from Lhuentse and Mongar thronged the Lhuendrup Rinchentse dzong on October 13 to receive blessings of longevity from one of the country’s most sacred statues of the Buddha of long life.
The crowd of men, women and children waited in queue for hours from early morning to view the speaking Buddha statue and get blessed.
The Buddha Amitabha (the Buddha of limitless life or Amitayus), and the relic is open to public viewing once a year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar following a week-long drupchen.
“I come almost regularly to get myself cleansed and pray for long life,” said an elderly woman, Sangay, from Baptong village. She walked for more than an hour to reach Khoma to hitch a ride to the dzong.
Another devotee, Kinzang Choden, 64, from Ladrong said she would feel empty and sad if she didn’t come for the blessings.
“Every time I receive the wang, I pray to have many more such opportunities,” she said. “I’ll come next year too.”
The origin of the statue dates back to the time of King Ashoka and is believed to have been swept down from Tibet. It is believed that the statue was discovered by a fisherman of the then Kidlung Gyalpo Wangchen Dharma from the confluence of Kurichhu and Kidlung chhu. It was kept in the Kidlung Lhakhang.
One account has it that the statue flew out of its lodge several times. The caretaker had to keep watch. The statue was even tied up with iron chains to prevent it from leaving the lhakhang. Finally, it shed the chains and flew off.
It was spotted at a place with three choetens called Nongma choeten (in Tshangla), and later on, in another place facing Lhuentse dzong by a woman from Jang village who was cutting grass.
Lhuentse Rabdey drungchen, Tashi Rabten, said the statue was made public after the Tshepamey Drupchog in the past. Later in 2016, a week-long Tshepamaed Drupchen was initiated to celebrate the Birth Anniversary of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey.
The Drubchen began on the third day of eight Bhutanese month with Bum Tashi and installation of Kilkhor.
Clean hands for all. A student of Chali Lower Secondary School demonstrates hand washing with soap to a group of travellers at Gangola, Mongar, yesterday. Students stopped motorists and passerby to educate them about the importance of proper hand washing during the National Hand Washing Week, October 7 to 15.
More than 50 visually impaired individuals walked along the streets in Thimphu to create awareness about blindness coinciding with the International White Cane Safety Day yesterday.
Some of the visually impaired persons said that with lots of constructions underway in the city and many stray dogs prowling freely, walking around poses risks to their safety.
Duptho Zangmo said that the footpaths could be bigger. “When we walk with sticks along the footpath with other pedestrians, it is not convenient.”
“We hope with development of the thromde things would become more convenient for us,” she said.
In the evening, the members of the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) staged a cultural event.
Among the crowd was one of the first teachers of the first school for the visually impaired children in Khaling, Trashigang, Gro Holm Rypestol.
She launched her fictional novel – Bumpa – amid applause from the participants, including her former students who travelled from Bumthang, and Samtse. The novel is based on her experience as a teacher in the Khaling school for the blind.
Gro Holm Rypestol sponsored the publication of the book, published by Kuensel.
The education ministry will distribute more than a thousand books for free to schools across the country. The book will also be available for sale and the proceeds from the sale would go to support DPAB.
“This is my gift to the children and parents in Bhutan,” she said.
“My greatest wish is that the book will give Bhutanese children hope, help them gain roots.”
Dr Sanga, a visually impaired and a physiotherapist at the JDWNRH, said that congenital diseases, trauma from accidents, and malnutrition were the causes of blindness in most kids in the early 1770s.
He turned blind when he was eight because he suffered from acute lack of vitamin A.
“This is the first time we observe the International White Cane Day and we wish to observe this day every year with your support.”
The day is observed to acknowledge the abilities of people who are visually impaired and to promote equal opportunities.