The school expects to take in more than 500 students next year if the same placement trends continue
The government’s decision to provide scholarship till class XII to those students who have secured 35% and above in the class X examinations last year has helped the first private higher secondary school in Trashigang to secure more than the required number of students.
Initially, the Kelki Higher Secondary School (KHSS) in Trashigang was expecting about 200 students if it was able to start on time. However, with the updated list of the placement of students, the school is receiving about 350 students. The exact number, however, will be known once the students report to the school on March 11.
School principal Chogyal Tenzin said the government’s policy has especially helped new private schools like Kelki in getting the required number of students.
“If the policy was not initiated, we have to hunt for students and by this time we may not be able to start the academic session like other schools,” he added.
According to the principal, the policy has not only helped the first private schools like Kelki in Trashigang, but it has also helped other private schools, especially those schools which are located far away from urban areas.
“It has been a blessing in disguise,” Chogyal Tenzin said. “From my experience as a principal in private schools for the last 18 years, I have noticed that when it comes to private schools, it is the students who choose the schools. A very few parents have a say over the choice of the schools by their children.”
Chogyal Tenzin said when the schools are located far away from urban places it is also difficult for them to attract students and especially those who are used to urban life.
He said for remote schools like Kelki in Trashigang it would have been difficult to attract the required number of students if the government’s policy of free education till class XII was not introduced.
The principal, however, said the policy is not economically viable for private schools.
For boarding students, the government is paying Nu 50,000 per year- Nu 30,000 for tuition fee and Nu 20,000 for boarding facilities. “But Nu 20,000 is not just for foods, it is for hostel rent, water and power services and of course for the loan payment and I think it will be difficult for the proprietor to manage,” Chogyal Tenzin said, adding that students in private schools also ought to be served with more than the normal average kind of foods for long-term business.
“To attract the students and for the sustainability of the school we have to give them the best meals. But now with Nu 20,000 per student in a year it is going to be difficult,” he added.
Meanwhile, the school is expecting to take in more than 500 students next year if the same placement trends continue.
However, Chogyal Tenzin said the policy is also going to have impacts on the performance of private schools as they have to accommodate students with very low marks.
“Initially, private schools do not go for students with 30%, most will go for students with higher percentages – in high 40s and 50s. So there will be challenges even in terms of instruction and this time in the history of private schools business in Bhutan, teachers are going to face more challenges,” he explained.
With the government’s policy of providing scholarship till class XII, schools are also expected to face shortages of textbooks, according to the principal.
“An increasing enrollment of students in class XI by almost 2,000 students compared to some last 20 years, there will be shortage of teachers both in the government and private schools,” he added.
Another impact, according to the principal, is the number of students who will sit for class XII examination in 2020. This will increase by almost 2,000 students and there will be stiff competition for colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan.
Meanwhile, it is a relief for students from Trashigang and nearby dzongkhags, who have 35% and above, that they can continue their higher studies closer to home with the opening of the first private higher secondary school in Trashigang.
With the KHSS in Trashigang, there are 21 private schools across the country.
Jigme Wangchen from Thimphu