Exams are particularly stressful events. During the final hours leading up to the day of exam, you panic a lot and often get confused with the lessons you have studied. The notes you have written with your own hand in the class appear like a totally new book and you spend hours scratching your head just trying to figure out what you have written. The textbooks do not make much sense and whatever lesson that has been taught does not flash back to memory. You feel completely lost. You keep studying through the late night but nothing seems to get into your head. You feel sleepy but you can’t fall asleep. It’s such a painful situation. The next morning you wake up with swollen eyes due to the lack of sleep and after trying to memorize a few things from the book, you drowsily head to the exam hall. In the hall, you are not in a position to think actively and creatively. You feel tired and when the question-paper lands before you, everything goes blank. You know that you are now doomed.
Before I went to school, I think I was a spoiled child. Perhaps because I was the only surviving child from my late mother, my father loved me too much during my childhood. As a result, he hardly cared what I did. He used to smoke biri at the time and often there used to be biri-butts in the pockets of his trousers. Out of curiosity, I tried to smoke one of them one day. But the moment I started inhaling the dark smoke, it drove me crazy. I began to puke uncontrollably. That was the first and the last time I ever tried to smoke. I could never appreciate it.
Children are generally fussy eaters. They always have to be coaxed into eating with us during the usual mealtimes but again, they don’t easily eat what they are served. All the parents would have experienced how difficult it is to make children eat healthy foods. My children still refuse to take many vegetables especially the ones we don’t take every day. I don’t know why but potato has become their only all-time favorite vegetable. We have been trying every possibility to make them take other vegetables as well but we have not been able to change their food habits as we have wanted.
There is a wave of excitement in my family as my youngest son Rigden Subba began his much-awaited academic journey since yesterday. Till now he has been his mother’s best companion at home, living with full of childish innocence and smiles. So the first day was certainly a strange experience for him. Although he had promised that he would not cry in school as his elder brother had done on his first day in school four years ago, it seems he did silently shed some tears on the way back home yesterday. I am sure he must have felt very strange in that new environment. For now, my wife is giving him company in the school, waiting for him all day and helping him have lunch or go to toilet during the intervals. He has been told that after a while, he has to be alone and that his mother will only come to get him home after the school hours. He has accepted this upcoming ordeal that he has to face. I am sure he will soon learn to be independent especially after he gets familiar with the environment and his friends. The problem with him right now is that he is normally a silent boy and that he doesn’t easily mingle with others. So, most of the time, it seems he is seen alone in the classroom. But with the passage of time, I hope he would gain some confidence to open up and interact with others.
The nation which firmly believes in the philosophy of Gross National Happiness is devastated by what happened in Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School on 16th October 2015. The entire population of Bhutan react with shock to the senseless murder of a 13-year-old student of Grade 7 for no personal fault of her own. What is most shocking about this particular incident is that the crime was committed by her own teacher, the Assistant Principal and this is something Bhutan had never seen in our schools before. Schools are supposed to provide a safe environment for students to learn, play and have fun with friends, but tragedies like this one is really unthinkable. It’s a shame to the entire education sector.
Our school curriculum is mostly academic-based and the textbooks contain only theories and logic which are not always applicable in our daily life. In addition to geography, history, science, economics and language studies, there are many things we need to know which are equally important for our success and wellbeing. But sadly, it seems we are missing them in our school curricula today. I may not be absolutely right but I feel following are some of the things we should learn while we are in the school in addition to existing subjects.
Of all the memories of incidents that happened to me during my almost twelve years of stay in Khaling as a student, the memory of what happened on the night of 15th June 1996 still lives afresh in my brain. The incident became so memorable that I can still clearly remember even the exact day and date when it happened. It was a cool Saturday night and in the boys’ hostel in the present-day Muenselling Institute, my friend Leki and I were still awake in our beds talking about all sorts of things as usual. Most of the Saturday nights, we usually used to stay late at night, either gossiping or playing card games/carom because the next day being Sunday, we didn’t have to worry about getting up late in the morning. But on this particular night as we were chitchatting, a mischievous thought ran through our mind. I don’t remember who suggested first but we both decided to venture out on a nightly adventure that eventually brought us in conflict with school authorities.
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18th December is the annual Judgment Day for students throughout Bhutan. It’s a big day for both students and their parents because this is the day which all of us have been anxiously waiting for. It’s the day on which our children who go to school harvest the outcome of their year-long hard-work and struggle and it’s the day for parents to find out whether what they have invested in their children’s education for one year has borne any fruit. After all, it’s the day which decides the next move of our children. But if you are not cautious enough, a small typing error on the results sheet of your child, which the school authorities attribute to the computer, can mar the academic performances of your child.
It was about fifteen years ago when I was studying in Khaling. There was a boy who was in love with a girl from the same school. He was junior to me though. Many of us knew that the girl also loved him but the problem was that neither of them had the guts to confess their love for each other. We were all aware that both of them had soft corners for each other. The boy would often share with me his feelings for her and we heard that the girl used to do the same with her girl-friends. Soon, we began to tease them for each other as it was a common practice in the school, but I think that worsened the situation for them. They even seemed to avoid each other in the public and remained as if they were strangers to each other.
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“If I have failed, my parents have warned me not to return home tonight, or I will be killed!” a 5th grade student in Thimphu had told her friends as they were walking to their school on the morning of 18th December to get their final academic results. Her friends tried to console her but it seemed she was already injured by the words of her parents that had hit her ears like lethal bullets. As they stood on the school ground waiting for their names to be called out, she looked more nervous and worried.
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