The government would save more than Nu 342mn this year if these aids to central and schools in rural areas are discontinued
Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi has asked the government to reconsider its decision to discontinue providing free stationery and uniforms to school children of central and schools in rural areas from this academic year.
In a letter copied to the Office Secretariat of His Majesty The King, Speaker, National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council, the Opposition Leader wrote to Prime Minister Dasho Dr Lotay Tshering on February 5 to reconsider the decision and calling it an ad hoc decision of the government.
“We are dismayed by the sudden decision of the Government to discontinue free stationery and uniforms to school children from this academic year. This ad hoc action has come as equally surprising and disappointing news to parents and children across the country,” writes the Opposition Leader.
The letter also mentioned that the government made an ad hoc decision without prior information before reopening the schools. And that the income of the people have been badly affected by the pandemic last year, the Opposition Leader urged the government to continue to provide free stationery to children in all schools as last year and uniforms to some identified disadvantaged students (unless other schemes in place).
The Opposition Leader also stated that the government should refrain from making ad hoc decisions and rendering the citizens helpless, especially the children.
“We advise that the Government undertake a proper review of the current policies, and take a considered decision next year,” the letter stated.
Talking to Business Bhutan, Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi said, “It is very surprising and disappointing news from the government by implementing this move in this academic year. This is ad hoc decision and news to parents and children across the country as well. The decision was not put in the parliament.”
He added that more than 160,000 students in rural areas have benefited from this provision earlier, but the government decision would affect those parents and students without prior information.
Meanwhile, the education ministry has recently decided to discontinue transferring funds for uniforms and stationery to central and schools in rural areas for this financial year.
In addition to the central schools, the government had also started providing students in rural areas with free stationery worth Nu 2,000 twice a year and uniforms worth Nu 2,500 to some identified disadvantaged students since 2019. However, the existing practice of transferring funds to the concerned schools in the form of grants will discontinue for this year and schools will not be able to procure uniform and stationery for the students.
Meanwhile, budget constraints have been cited as reason for discontinuing the funds for uniforms and stationery to central and schools in rural areas.
More than 160,000 students in rural areas have benefited from this provision in the previous years, while the government is expected to save more than Nu 342mn this year.
Chencho Dema/ Thimphu
Additional reporting by Kinley Yonten