Because of this award, my family can raise their heads and walk with pride. I have no regrets in life even if I die now.

His Majesty the King, during the National Day celebrations, on Monday, awarded the National Order of Merit (Gold) to 112 teachers from schools around the country for their exemplary services in the field of Education.  One of the recipients of the award, Lopen Kado talks to Business Bhutan reporter Yangchen Zam about the prestigious moment and his future commitments. Lopen Kado, 45, has been teaching Dzongkha subject for the past 23 years at Raptey Community School in the remote village of Raptey in Trashi Yangtse.

Yangchen Zam

Q. You and your colleagues have been awarded the Druk Thuksey award by His Majesty the King himself. What does the National Order of Merit mean to the education system in Bhutan?

First of all, it is my colleagues and my greatest honor to have received such a prestigious award from His Majesty the King. We will cherish it as the happiest moment in our lives. Receiving the Druk Thuksey award means a lot to the education system in Bhutan. We have dedicated our life to our government and now finally our hard work has been recognized by bestowing us with the greatest of honor. This kind of award will definitely encourage teachers working in urban and especially in rural areas to devote their life to hard work in the hope that one day they too will have this kind of opportunity to receive such an honor from His Majesty himself.

Q. Can you describe your personal feeling on receiving such a prestigious award?

When we received this prestigious award from His Majesty the King’s hand, it was a feeling of joy, ecstasy and pride for me.  A feeling I cannot express. I felt like the luckiest man on earth. Because of this award, my family can raise their heads and walk with pride. I have no regrets in life even if I die now. This is my greatest achievement and nothing can mean more than this to me.

Q. Why do you think you and your colleagues deserve the award?

I believe since we have served the government and dedicated our life towards it for a very long time now we are bestowed with this award. It further implies and encourages others to do the same so that one day their hard work, skills and dedication will be appreciated.

Q. Having received the award what messages do you and the other teachers have for fellow citizens?

This kind of award will definitely improve the quality of education as it will act as an encouragement booster by first of all invoking interest in other teachers to work harder. Taking myself as an example, I feel more encouraged now. After going back to my school I will work hard, use my skills, modify my skills to better and develop the education quality in my school. I now want to do more for the government.

For my fellow citizens, I would like to say that if you work hard and dedicate your life then the government will recognize and appreciate you. You will not be ignored. And one day, just like me and my friends, you will be able to acquire this kind of a golden opportunity- to receive such a significant award from His Majesty himself.

Q. What are your future plans and commitments?

I want to use my four skills of reading, speaking, writing and listening for the development of the education system and I want to develop my skills more to improve the quality of education. I want to pass on all the skills and qualities I possess to my students so that they too can serve the government and our beloved King with utmost dedication and pride. Since I have received the greatest encouragement from this award, I will work hard and serve my government as much as I can.

Q. How would you describe the teaching profession?

Teaching is a difficult profession. Standing in front of a crowd of students, takes away all your energy because you are constantly trying to get the students’ attention, making sure you have something for their different types of intelligence, making learning fun for them and keeping them focused.

You get home mostly tired sometimes barely even able to lift your feet but every job has its own advantages and disadvantages. The good thing about teaching is you know in the back of your head that you are always doing the good thing.  You are educating the students.

Q. What are the factors that motivate and de-motivate a teacher?

Just as mothers would want the best for her child, we teachers too want what’s best for our students. Therefore, nurturing them, guiding them to achieve their goals is the greatest pleasure we devour and our greatest motivation.

Even if you have 100 KG’s of gold a word of knowledge is still much more valuable so without education you are nowhere and therefore a teacher’s profession is a delightful profession and something to be proud about.

When it comes to de-motivation, during the day we are busy teaching and at night our time is spent preparing for the next class and therefore there is never enough time for ourselves. Also, especially in rural schools like my school, dealing with little kids is very difficult. They urinate and sometimes even defecate in the classroom and we are destined to clean the mess.

Q. Can you describe some of the changes you have observed in the education curriculum and students’ attitudes over the years of your teaching experience?

With time everything changes and I sense it has been the same for the education system as well. Being in the education system for about 23 years, I have observed some changes in the education curriculum and student’s attitude for some time.

I feel that with the educations new policy intact, which states corporal punishment not permissible, student’s behaviors have become a little intolerable. I feel, they tend to argue, retort and fight back with their teachers since they now know that the education system does not permit corporal punishment anymore. Teachers tend to feel disheartened when students quarrel. Since they can’t take any action they tend to lose interest in teaching because their self-respect and pride is crushed. That is when the quality of education depletes.