You are here: RAOnline Home > Bhutan > Overview > Information > Bagos Search
A Bhutan's People
A life in the "Bagos": Bagopas
Bhutan People
Home for nine out of 12 months every year
Students living near the school on their own
Bhutan Information
Tourist Destinations in Bhutan
Video Bhutan Videos
previous pageend
Bagopas: Life near the school

Their home for nine out of 12 months every year

Bagopas, or hut dwellers as it is implied, has slowly crept itself into the Khengkha vocabulary. Everybody in Zhemgang today understands the word for students who live in make-shift dwellings near schools. While the word carries no derogatory connotation, it highlights a problem that children who live very far off from schools face. They put up close to their schools in huts their parents build to solve the problem of long walking distances. There is no choice. Most primary and community schools do not have boarding facilities.
The only other option is not to educate the children at all. But such travails are not unique to Zhemgang.

In most rural communities in Bhutan, children do live in "Bagos" or huts for many years, from PP upwards until they reach higher classes in schools with boarding facilities. The parents usually entrust the care of the smaller children to bigger brothers and sisters who are barely 14 to 15 years old themselves. But, most of the time,the children look after themselves, cook their own meals and wash their own clothes.

Students living near the school on their own

The Tshaidang Primary School, established in 1988, was shifted from Leyleygang to Tshaidang four years ago so that it would be central to Nekhar, Shobling, Dungmang and Kamjong villages under Nangkhor geog. Theschool has 109 students from pre-primary till class V and provides mid-daymeal. According to Diliram, a teacher at the school, all these villages are more than aday's walk from the school. There are presently 50 students living near theschool on their own in three small bamboo huts. "Some families have sent elderly people as caretakers. But they are usefulonly as cook and are hardly aware of the other needs of the children," Diliramsaid.

Fourteen-year old Jigme Wangchuk, a class V student of Shobling village,carries a big responsibility in spite of his young age. Besides himself, he looks after his seven-year old sister in class PP and five others from his village who are all younger. His day starts with lighting the fire and preparing the breakfast for his littlegroup. He makes them study for about an hour before breakfast. Jigme Wangchuk has been living in that hut for the last five years. The hut was previously occupied by his elder sister and an in-law. He has not seen his parents for the last three years and claims that he has almost forgotten the taste of meat. He grows some potatoes and chillies in a small kitchen garden at the back of the hut but he is very lucky if the wild animals do not devour them.

"The real trouble starts in summer when for about seven months the roofleaks, the floor becomes muddy and we have to go to school in wet clothes," hesaid. "It is also very difficult when someone gets sick." Sonam Tobgay, a 10-year old class III student, is already thinking of leavingthe "Bago" life behind. He says he has had enough of living among scary wild animals, eating bad food and walking for hours to fetch a can of drinkingwater. "I want to go to Thimphu and drive a big truck," he says, adding that he will not offer lift to any person on the road because he has never been given one.

Tshewang Lhamu, a 13-year old in class IV, is eagerly waiting to reach class VI so that she can join Buli Primary School which has boarding facilities. "The school has been trying in every possible way to help these children but we have hardly anything to offer when it comes to health and sanitation, safe drinking water and proper diet," Diliram said. A proposal to set up boarding facilities in the school has seen no action from the dzongkhag authorities. In Trong village, just on the outskirts of Zhemgang town, there are about 15 "Bagopas" from Dakpai studying in Zhemgang Primary School.

The dropout rate in the school is very high because most are not able to bear the harsh life. Girls, most often, are vulnerable to sexual advances and end up leaving schools. The establishment of more community schools is seen as a solution to this problem. But, according to assistant district education officer Karma Dukpa, community schools are not feasible unless there are about 50 school going children in the village. Diliram points out that parents are very reluctant to send children to schools where there are no boarding facilities. The enrolment in his school has never picked up as parents prefer enrolling their children in the clergy. "Without proper boarding facilities and without community schools nearby,there will be more children idle at home or working in fields," Diliram said.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper
Information on Bhutan
Photo Galleries
Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens
Mongar and Lhuentse
Lhuentse Dzong
East-West-Highway by motorbike
Druk Air: Over the Himalayas
Trongsa Dzong
Tshechu and Drupchen Photo Gallery Tshechu in Wangdue Phodrang Video
About Bhutan
Trashigang About Trashigang
East- West- Highway
Bhutan: Photo Galleries and Videos
Bhutan Maps
Punakha Dzong
Lhuentse and Mongar
Trongsa and Zhemgang
Paro and Haa
Southern Bhutan
previous page Bhutan HOME