More than taekwondo

Thimphu Club won the most medals in the recent under-15 tae­kwondo championships. Thimphu Primary School came in second. And Zilukha LSS third. 105 students from 9 clubs had participated in the championships that had been organized to commemorate Bhutan Taekwondo Federation’s silver jubilee.

Not bad, I had initially thought, till I looked at the medal standings properly.

Courtesy: Bhutan Observer

Of the 9 clubs only two were from government schools. Five of them, on the other hand, were from private schools. The remaining two were not school based – one, the winner, is part of the Federation, and the other, White Tigers, is a private club.

Thimphu has 12 government schools at the primary and lower secondary levels. So why is it that they had only two teams in the tournament, when almost every private school in town could field a team each? Did they lack the resources? Or did they lack the interest?

Today, private schools are staffed with teachers who are less qualified, less trained and lower paid than their counterparts in government schools. They generally have access to fewer resources. And almost every private primary school operates from an apartment building or semi-permanent houses.

If, given these conditions, private schools are already outperforming government schools, I dread to think what will happen when they are permitted to charge higher fees, and because of that, they are able to recruit the qualified teachers, buy better resources, and build proper infrastructure.