Deserving parents

What good parenting does

Dago Pema Retty deserves to be congratulated. Dago, who is a Class VII student at Pelkhil School, recently participated in the 9th International Clubs Open Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam. He bought home a bronze medal from that tournament.

Dago’s parents, Aum Pem Dem and Gyambo Sithey, also deserve to be congratulated. They spotted their son’s interest in taekwondo, and went out of their way to cultivate that interest. They hired a private coach for their son. And even though Dago was the only Bhutanese participant in the Vietnam tournament, they sent him there, and they bore all the expenses.

Our children are naturally talented. And we, parents, must nurture their talent. But too few of us do so. That’s why most of our children end up with mediocre standards at best – unable to fulfill their potentials.

If we want our children to become artists and musicians; if we want them to excel in games and sports; if we want them to do well in science and mathematics; if we want them to become wholesome citizens with well rounded values and a sense of civic responsibility; if we want our children to be able to compete and succeed internationally … we, parents, must take parenting more seriously.

Yes, our schools play an important role in developing our children. And so does civil society, like, in Dago’s case, the taekwondo federation. But we can’t escape the fact that, if we want our children to excel, we, parents, must ultimately take the biggest responsibility.

Aum Pem Dem and Gyambo Sithey are doing their part. Are you?

Photo credit: Bhutan Today

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.

Learning taekwondo

Galek, my daughter, attends taekwondo classes twice a week. This is one of the activities organized by her school for their students during the winter holidays. Galek loves it.

I accompanied her yesterday. I wanted to see how good she’d become. Instead I got to see how good our boys are.

Galek’s coach, Sir Kinley, had called his friends to do a short demonstration for his students. They put on quite a show – performing complicated moves, perfectly choreographed fights, breaking wooden boards and smashing apples blindfolded. Galek and her friends enjoyed the performance. That was the idea. I was enthralled. They are good.

The boys, all sporting black belts, are mainly students. They are members of our national team and they meet every day to train together. They are committed. And most of them have already decided to become taekwondo coaches.

A senior member of the group, Kinley Tshering, 21 years, class 12 in Rinchen HSS, has been learning taekwondo for the last 14 years. He started under Master Tharchen even before he joined school!

Kinley and his friends need and deserve the government’s support. The stipend they used to get as members of our national team has been withdrawn – it needs to be reinstated; and they should have access to scholarships to continue training after high school. Otherwise, it will be difficult to sustain their interest. And that won’t be good for the new taekwondo enthusiasts, one of whom is practicing her kicks and punches even as I post this entry.