NO ONE STEALS BOOKS HERE
It was in 2006 that I first heard about this community school, which is a five hour walk from the road point in Chapcha. I was a principal in Doteng LSS then. But I could visit Paga Community Primary School in 2008 only after I was transferred to the Education Monitoring Support Service Division.
The multi-grade school has classes ranging from PP to VI but had only four semi-permanent rammed earth classrooms. The school did not have a safe drinking water facility and the 68 students used pit latrines. Despite many challenges, the campus was neat and classrooms were kept tidy. There were three teachers including the principal and a support staff. I noticed that all of them were well dressed with neatly combed hair.
The students imitated the teachers in neatness. Children at the primary and community schools look up to their teachers and try to imitate them. It is at this tender stage that as teachers we can build or break them.
One important aspect of the school that impressed me the most was the way the school allowed children to have free access to the store and library. While we see in most schools books neatly stacked up in the school library as decorative pieces, this school allowed children to take books of their choice any time of the day whether there is a teacher or not to issue it. No cases of books being stolen were ever reported. Children returned the books as soon as they were done with reading. This has greatly helped to instill reading habits in children, the principal told me.
I was amazed at this certain trust between the teachers and students, an essential quality needed for a good school climate. We made a round of the classrooms and I was awed beyond comprehension. The beautiful teaching aids dangled from all corners of the classrooms. The teacher was modest to admit that she made it herself. “Her class is the best. I can’t seem to compete with her”, the principal said about the teacher who is also his wife. Together, they had built that community primary school.
The principal’s office was well equipped with three computers connected to the internet. There was a computer for each of the staff which was also accessible to students at any time of the day. I commended his effort to have pulled in such resources which even high schools don’t seem to have in some of the Dzongkhags. He replied, “We just need to do a bit of pushing here and there and we get what we want”
Now this is the kind of attitude we want in every principal.
NOTE: This article was posted in Business Bhutan column in 2010.