Lakey had an unplanned event for us the morning after our 10 hour trek from Ura to Tang the previous day. He had gotten permission to visit the school in Tang. We were uncertain how this would turn out, but it was a very enjoyable and educational look at how children are educated in Bhutan.
On an early morning walk I had observed the school children, and they me, from outside the school grounds. And some class rooms were already filled before 7 am. We learned later that most of the kids here board — only about 70 out of the 330 students live within walking distance (up to one hour walk each day).
We bought some pencils to give the kids from a tiny store across the road. We visited two classrooms. In both the children sang for us in English. Below are two photos from the first classroom. In the second photo you can see Kencho with phone camera and Lakey chimping his photos.
The second class got a bit unruly after their songs. As we observed throughout Bhutan, the boys were outgoing and aggressive, and the girls were shy and sweet.
Stephen handed out pencils and talked with the children in the courtyard.
Trying to get some photos of the girls without the boys jumping in front of my lens, I convinced some girls to come over on a side porch.
But soon some boys noticed and came over to ham it up.
Soon the children gathered outside in two large groups. We stayed with the girls.
In only a few minutes the girls went from the gathering you see above to a single file line around the courtyard. A teacher quickly walked down the line checking them out. In the 13-shot panorama below you can see the teacher twice.
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The girls lined up to practice bowing. Surprisingly some had to repeat it several times.
I got a photo of girls outside their dorm.
Stephen seemed to really be enjoying himself.
We met with the principal and learned a bit about the school and education in Bhutan. The curriculum is specified by the government. The main sports here are soccer, basketball, darts, and archery. Students in the Tang School range in age from 6 to 18; school is up to the 10th grade. Around 200 of the 330 students in this school come from other valleys.
After college teachers are assigned to schools by the government for a minimum of 3 years. Then they can apply for a transfer or stay. Our host had been a Principal in the eastern part of Bhutan for 5 years after teaching English, then transferred to this school which is closer to his home. He had been at the Tang School two years. Teachers had to travel occasionally to “headquarters”. From the east in monsoon season this could take up to a week one way, although the normal time was 2 days. Roads from the Bumthang area, where the Tang Valley is, to Thimpu are generally poor but better than those to the east of Bumthang.
We made a donation to the school and took the short walk back to the River Lodge for lunch.
Here are a few more photos I took at the Tang School.