Low student turnout worries Sherub Reldri School in Mongar

The school is unsure about the number of students they will receive this year

After Kelki School in Kanglung, Trashigang confronted student enrollment issue for this academic year, a similar situation is being faced by the Sherub Reldri Higher Secondary School (SRHSS) in Mongar too.

After the education ministry has started taking in most of the Class XI students in public schools, private schools are facing difficulties as the number of students seeking admission has decreased.

The Principal of SRHSS, Ugyen Thinley said they have lost students while the capacity of public schools increased as most of the students were taken in on government scholarship.

“It’s like losing a client in a market. We are left with a minimum number of students who will be joining the private schools,” he said, adding that the number of students who approach for admission with their own funding has decreased and they do not get the adequate number of students to run the school.

“Even parents feel that when the government is supporting students with scholarships, they shouldn’t waste additional expenditure on private schools,” Ugyen Thinley said.

According to him, every expense for the schools had to be managed from the amount received from the student fees, which is becoming difficult with limited number of students as they have only Class XI and Class XII.

In 2019, the school received 138 Class XI students under the government scholarship and 58 students in 2020 (though it was promised to provide 107 students in 2020).

However, the school is unsure about the number of students they will receive this year.

According to the Principal, if the government divides 1,800 students equally among 20 private schools, each will get 90 students. However, the decision is not finalized and it will also depend on students’ willingness to study in a school as they are given their own choice.

Ugyen Thinley said there is also confusion on the scholarship program. As the government says it’s a full government scholarship, but in online admission form for Class XI, it says only needy students will get boarding facilities.

“So there is confusion on the definition of needy students,” he added. “The term is not defined properly. There should be a written document of who can apply as needy students.”

And while parents in western parts of the country are aware of the quality of education the private schools provide and have no qualms enrolling their children into private schools, the Principal said it isn’t the case in the east given the absence of sensitization on education, thus having impacts on the private schools. 

He said that if the school faces serious issues, the school might have to look for other alternatives like upgrading to a college or take up TVET programs.

“It all depends on the investment. Upgrading means a huge investment and if there is a further policy change, there will be a massive impact for the proprietor. Moreover, proprietors are not willing to invest as anytime with change in the government, they come up with different policies,” the Principal said.

He added that they have also not been able to revise the pay for their teachers for quite some time now.

“Last year, the budget of the school was just enough to run the school and the payment of loan was difficult. Till date, there has been no issue regarding the payment for teachers,” he said.

However, Ugyen Thinley said there might be impact on the payment in the future as there are 80 students in the campus. “In this scenario, it will be difficult for the payment and pay might be delayed for three to four months and closure might happen too.”

Currently, the SRHSS has 80 Class XII students with 15 teaching staffs.

Tenzin Lhamo from Mongar