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Samtse: Tendu Higher Secondary School

Ambitions thwarted by inadequate resources

A hard work well rewarded, an aspiration fulfilled and a dream about to be realised. That was Tashi Dhendup when he scored 86 percent in the Class XII board exams last year. Tashi wanted to study science and, when he qualified for it at the newly upgraded Tendu higher secondary school, he was motivated to work harder to qualify for a scholarship abroad.

His dream, however, was cut short when he joined Tendu HSS February 2011.

Shortage of science and mathematics textbooks, inexperienced teachers and lack of computers for students for IT classes have left many students frustrated.

The 100 science students of Tendu HSS study mathematics without a textbook, apart from sharing science textbooks. Except for the teacher's copy, none of the students have a copy of the mathematics textbook, said school officials.

"We are divided into groups of four and each group share a textbook of three science subjects," said 19-year old Tashi Dhendup. "It's of no use complaining of lack of computers when we desperately need textbooks at the moment."

Students said that, with the same teachers, who were already there before the school was upgraded, teaching them, lack of subject specialist was an issue as well.

Tashi Choden, 18, another student wanted to become a software engineer. "I had to compromise on my ambition and now I think I should opt for civil engineering. Forget about computers, we don't even have enough textbooks," she said, adding that sharing textbooks hampered regular study routine.

"Having qualified for science, all students want to study hard right from the beginning but it becomes difficult when four of us have to share a textbook," said Tashi Choden.
Around nine Class XI students left school in the middle of the academic session, citing lack of facilities as the main reason for leaving. Seven of the nine students joined Samtse higher secondary school since Samtse HSS offered IT classes.

However school authorities said that students, who left school, citing such reasons was just an excuse. "Of the nine students, two left on medical grounds and the rest came from day school, so they couldn't adjust to boarding life," said the school's principal, Kinzang Wangdi.

School officials said that apart, from the issue of textbooks shortages and lack of computers, overcrowded classrooms and teacher shortages were other issues the school faced.

The newly upgraded school has 1,512 students from PP to Class 11 with 37 teachers and each classroom has more than 50 students. The teacher-student ratio for the whole school is 1:41 as opposed to the ideal 1:32.

The principal agreed that they are facing an acute shortage of textbooks and said that the ministry has already been informed about the issue.

"Hopefully we should be able to get it within a month," he said. "As for mathematics, since it's a new curriculum, the issue prevails throughout the country."

The vice principal, Karma Chogyel said that initially they had planned for just one science section. "But we landed up with two more sections, as very few students qualified for Class XI opted for Arts or Commerce streams," he said, adding that, with only a few students opting for Arts and Commerce, it wasn't viable to form a class.

Except for the Class XI students, the rest of the students from Classes PP to 10 are day scholars, with most of them staying about an hour's walk from the school.

Contributed by Kinga Dema for KUENSEL, Bhutan's national newspaper, 2011
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