Educating the centre

rangtse-schoolGakiling has 13 villages. Some of the poorest parts of our country can be found in this cluster of villages that lie along the remote parts of upstream Amochu. Together, the 13 villages have just one school – Rangtse Community School, which opened two years ago after Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck visited the area.

None of the villages is connected by car road. Most don’t even have mule tracks. So the school in Rangtse is not accessible to children living in other villages. And the children can’t live in Rangtse, because the school does not have boarding facilities.

Naturally, the people of Gakiling are anxious. They want schools. They need schools. But they have no idea if their needs will be met during the 10th Plan. They have no idea because no one consulted them.

Education used to be decentralized. And local governments could decide, within the overall education policies and guidelines, where to build their schools. But this is no longer the case. The entire education system will be planned and executed by the centre. That must be the case, because the centre – the education ministry, in this case – has been allocated all the money. And local governments have been given nothing, not even one ngultrum, to develop education in their communities.

During the 10th Plan the Education Ministry will receive Nu 9.5 billion for capital investments alone. Compare this to what has been earmarked for the 20 dzongkhags – Nu 7.2 billion for all their activities; or what has been given to the 205 gewogs combined – just Nu 4.8 billion.

This makes the education ministry very powerful. But its power comes at a high price: decentralization is suspended, and local government is suppressed. That’s not good. Local governments, after all, understand the aspirations of their people better than any expert in Thimphu. And they have much more at stake.

For now, the people of Gakiling are at the mercy of the centre. So are the people of Sombaykha, another gewog with no road and only one proper school. Both, Gakiling and Sombaykha are in my constituency.


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  1. Here are some more places without roads and electricity, but beautiful places nonetheless:

    (best viewed in high quality)

    When the government says “schools, roads and electricity” in all geogs within the 10th FYP, I wonder how that’s going to happen short of some superhuman feat. Most, maybe, but all, I’m not so sure. Still, it is a good goal.

    There are issues – border security, accessibility, primary health care, education and environmental conservation. We need smart workable solutions.

    In parts of Haa, yak herding is on the decline. Our mountains are becoming empty, we are losing our first line of defense. In Laya there is just too much construction due to a spurt in economic prosperity. I fear the villages could quickly become overcrowded and riddled with waste management, sanitation and fire hazard problems. In Lunana most kids don’t go to school anymore. And most older people suffer from eye diseases. In Singye Dzong, we need more stringent border monitoring in collaboration with the few yak herders (who are all of recent Tibetan origin, mostly from Lhodrak).

    How can we address all these in a comprehensive manner?

    BUT each one of these places has its strengths and opportunities.

  2. I agree with the comment posted by Gupdroep, however, i think it’s important that all parts of Bhutan are connected and has the basic facilities such as access to good health and good education.
    It’s an irony that more money is spent on the means rather than the ends. I guess it’s a reality everywhere. Even with the international organizations, only a minimal % of the total budget outlay is gone for the cause and most of it is pumped in running the organization. Nevertheless I think decentralization is important and if implemented effectively will have many positive impacts on all gewogs.

  3. haha (best viewed in high quality)? of course mena la…best and high quality-they always go together, don’t they?

  4. Dear Tshering:
    Thanks to Sameer, I discovered your blog. And what an excellent way to communicate with people you care about!

    Your comments are thoughtful, full of humility that I have come to know of you over the years, and contain excellent insights. I hope to be coming to your blog on a somewhat more regular basis…

    More power to you…

    CV Madhukar
    New Delhi

  5. Sonam,

    The statement in parenthesis only means that the video can be viewed better if you select the “watch in high quality” option on YouTube.

  6. Pema Thinley says

    Very pertinent issues. What would our country be if there were at least 12 PDP MPs to support the OL. Alas what have we done? Gave a landslide victory to DPT and went out of our way to ensure that all PDP lost. We have made a mockery of our democracy and I hope we all wake up oneday to find the mess we have created.

  7. pema thinley,

    Nothing is impossible between the sky and the earth. Everybody now seems to blame ourselves for the subsequent consequences of the land slide victory. But I have not yet blamed ourselves because I need to first know the electronic voting machines thoroughly, after all EVMs are the ones which ultimately decided the victory. I am NOT referring to our post election, there are number of cases where EVMs lost votes, subtracted votes instead of adding them, and doubled votes because these machines have no paper audit trails. Unfortunately there are also deliberate voting-machine fraud that changed the result of the election. So I would never jump to the conclusion without first knowing all the determing factors. I believe we first have to dissect every moment of the D-Day and try to fit it again to draw some conclusion. What do u say guys?

  8. We cannot talk about schools according to need in a situation where there is conflict of interest. On the one hand, there is the need to fulfil the promises made to people during political campaigning. The closer a school is to the doorstep, the more satisfied the clients would be. Pretty natural.

    On the other hand, there is prioritization of needs across the different geogs within a district and across the different districts within the nation, to take care of on the basis of resource availability.

    Where will the line be drawn? Whose interests will be delivered? For whose benefit?

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