23 February 2014

21 February 2014

21st Feb 2014

Last year on this special holiday I wrote the following short note. I am sharing this again to stress on the fact that time has changed.
November 11 was the last of holidays before we wind up our school and sit for exam during our times as children. It used to be the holiday we would wait all year long. It was the time we finally become resolute about sitting down and getting serious about our exams. It was the national birthday we would celebrate with all our hearts.
Now comes February 21, which is the first of holidays in spring, before we turn the first page of our books in school. Perhaps early national birthday has a significance of its own, time has changed. The Changed time demands earlier realization, right in spring. The luxury of relaxing till November is gone with our times.
I am also happy to see that Bhutanese Film industry has brought their Annual award show to Punakha for the first time, and Bhutan Olympic (?) is organizing a marathon from Gasa to Punakha to celebrate His Majesty's Birthday. Not everything should happen in Thimphu, and the time has come.

HM's Birthday Banner
Happy Birthday your majesty, May almighty bless you with health and strength and protect you from all harm on your selfless journey of love and leadership.

19 February 2014

Changing 200 Lives

10,659 students appeared class X examination in December 2013, of which 95.93% (10,225) passed the exam. Of course there is hardly any excitement in passing class X because there is a huge gap between passing the exam and qualifying for class XI. While you can pass with just 35% it take 61% to make it to class XI this year.

While the 4.07% of students who fail could repeat in government school, over 5000 students who passed but couldn't score qualification mark are left to their own fate. For some it could be the end of their educational journey.

I don't really understand the Maths and Science behind setting the cut off point at certain percent, so I am assuming that it's fixed based on the available seats in government schools. If that's the case, and hopefully should be, what happens to the seats of those students who qualified for government school but for some reason choose to study in private schools?

Private school business is booming with world class strategies. Within the last few year they have shifted from school for disqualified students to school for toppers. With very welcoming infrastructure and unique systems in place private school are attracting parents and students alike. It has become a culture over the last few year for the brilliant students to leave for private school after class X mostly on scholarship. There are also many students who despite qualifying for free education in government school still opt to pay heavy fees and study in private school.

This trend, I humbly assume, will at least create 200 vacancies in government schools, or twice more. Keeping these seats empty has no benefit for the government. However if these seats are gifted as scholarship to 200 disqualified students who are socially very good, emotionally very intelligent but economically challenged, it can be a national investment. It will be an acknowledgement for being a good human being. They may go grow up to change this country for better. In them we might get the future prime minister of Bhutan. Education should not be limited to those who do well in exam.

Dear Education Ministry, Please use this opportunity to change at least 200 lives.

17 February 2014

Duplicate Key

I have posted about it on Facebook but I am posting it here again for my readers who aren't connected to me there, assuming there would be lot of you out there who are as careless and absent minded like me.

I lost the spare key to my car. I have no idea where and when I lost it. With just one key and my absent mind, I waste a lot of energy worrying about it. My worst fear came alive when I had to leave my car on the road for a night in Gelephu. That was when I decided I will get duplicate key made in Phuntsholing.

Kezang knows about a man on the street who makes key. We went looking for him but there was another stall instead. We asked about him only to find out he is no more. The art of street key making died with him. We thought it was the end.
Blank Key and my Original

It was only the end of crude craft but the beginning of professional key making. Shakti Workshop in Jaigoan now has the key making technology. They pick a blank key and in less than five mins the machine can photocopy our original key on to the blank one. Nu.350 price tag is very reasonable considering how much calm it brings to the mind that always remains absent.

However, I am a lucky owner of an old generation car that accepts duplicate keys. If you are thinking of getting one please read the user guide to understand the technology of your system
because most new cars are said to come with digital sensor that could sense duplicate key and result in disabling the whole lock system.

14 February 2014

Wasting Second Chance

The following news last year sounded like a piece of soothing music. It was something I always wished for. I was so happy for my students who try so hard, for the students who come from difficult economic background, for the students whose luck run out when it's most needed. All of them are going to have a second chance now.
"The government has decided to allow students, who fail in classes X and XII board examinations to repeat once in the same school from the next academic year." -Kuensel 2013, Nov
 “What we're doing is very little and of course there are risks involved, but that won't stop us from giving a second chance to students, who’re genuinely in need of a second chance to complete their schooling,” -Education Minister 
Now the board exam results are declared. There are students with excellent marks. There are ones who just made it. There are ones who missed by few marks and there are the ones who failed clearly. And suddenly my excitement about the 'second chance' disappeared. I was looking at my school result sheet and studying the marks. I was feeling differently for different groups of students: Happy for the ones on the top of the list, sorry for the middle ones, and upset with bottom of the list.
It's more upsetting to realise that only the ones who failed are going to get the second chance. There could be some students with serious learning difficulties, otherwise failing is a very difficult thing to do in board exams with pass percent of just 40% for XII and 35% X. It only means they didn't bother much (Very evident from the result sheet I am holding).
If anybody deserves second chance it the group of students who passed the exam but failed to clear the qualifying mark by few points. They are the ones who tried. Their efforts should be acknowledged by a second chance. But the policy does not allow this.
However, the policy would be reviewed from time to time when necessary, so that the “privilege is utilised judiciously.”   -Education Minister
I am hopeful that with one of implementation we would realize the flaw in it and consider better ways so that the second chances are not wasted.

11 February 2014

Dayscholars in Yangthang

My winter vacation ended with a brief visit to my village for the lochoey. It pains me to realize how growing up took me away from this place I once thought I can never part from. I never had a dream bigger than living in Yangthang. Perhaps this is always going to be my dream now that it is becoming harder by the year to pay my annual visits.
Vacation ends in Yangthang
Every year Yangthang seems like another place to me, everything about it is changing. There are good changes that I am proud of. But there is a price to pay for changing. Sometime I wonder if everything is worth the change.

Once upon my time in village, family was the most important relationship among my folks. Divorce was just a myth we just heard of. Only death could do a couple apart, literally. But now that's a fairy tale. This time when I was home I was introduced to a new term in the village: "Dayscholar". You know the actual meaning of the word but in my village it's a term referring to a person who has returned to their parental home because of marital issues with their spouse. Coming out as a dayscholar sometimes ends in divorce, like in the cases of many couples there. I met some men back in the village who were married into other villages when I was a little boy. They are dayscholars now.

Beautiful Yangthang from the Highway
This is a sad development in a village where marriage was considered sacred. They believe that this is the price they are paying for using cell phones besides the endless recharges.

02 February 2014

Friends across Border

After a month long vacation in Gelephu, I am left with no more appetite for fun in Phuntsholing. It's time to relax and retune my mood back to normal mode because in few days I will be back in school. It's already my fourth day in Phuntsholing but I haven't seen anything here yet, perhaps I don't want to go out like I used to do. I wouldn't even be stopping here for so long if Friday wasn't a holiday. It cost me three more days to wait for Monday to visit one office here.

Waiting seems to make days last longer. Thank god we are offered a nice suite room to complete our holiday in south. So in between endless sleeping and television shows I am working on the wonderful host's design works, from logo to signboard, website to Facebook Page for the hotel.

And like an annual ritual I visited my friend Bikash in supermarket. We met some seven years ago. On the first day of his clothing business we met and the following year when I went to meet him he was more than happy to see me. He said his business is booming, he already owned two shops and supplied to other shops as well. He said we were his lucky charm. So this lucky charm goes to meet him every year.
Bikash- Seven Years of Friendship
Another friend I made over the years was Amit Kumar. I know him for five years now. He brought Gola to Jaigoan from Mumbai. He would always ask about my family and send us message through common friends. He has hundreds of Bhutanese friends but when I meet him he will always make me feel like I am his best friend. He and other momo guys are moved from their regular location and are currently operating near Hanuman temple. They are fighting to come back.
I suggested him to visit Thimphu and other places across Bhutan during festivals and he liked the idea.

Ninzi with Amit's Gola, and Amit is Standing behind her!