December 14, 2012 Bhutan Observer

In a little crammed shop on Norzin Lam in Thimphu, Sanu Maya Chhetri, 15, a Class IX student of Norbuling Middle Secondary School in Sarpang, helps her sister sell doma. She has been helping her sister since 2010 during winter vacation. Her sister gives her money enough to buy school uniform and meet other schooling expenses. This is a reward for helping her sister.

Starting next year, Sanu is going to receive double rewards – from her sister and from her school.

Ministry of Education has announced that students from Classes IX to XII, who engage themselves in productive works during school vacations, will be acknowledged and their work credited to Socially Useful and Productive Work (SUPW).

The ministry says students who help their parents on the farm, earn money to buy school uniforms and stationery items for themselves and their siblings, do voluntary work, engage in community service and carry out other meaningful activities will be rewarded when they are back to school.

The director of Department of Curriculum Research and Development in Paro, KesangChodenDorji, said this initiative will have a great benefit to students. She said it will help instill in students the spirit of teamwork and social values such as volunteerism, dignity of labour, helpfulness and unity.

Works done during vacations will account for 20 percent of SUPW marks. Eighty percent of the marks will come from supervised and planned SUPW work carried out by the students during the academic session.

Employers of students will have to fill in a form available on DCRD’s website and in the schools. The form has the provisions for the nature and duration of work.

Director Kesang said the department has informed all schools about this initiative but the schools are not involved in providing jobs to engage the students. She said it is entirely up to the students themselves whether to work during vacations.

Some people say that it would be difficult for the department to monitor whether students actually work during vacations, especially in rural areas where parents are the employers. The director clarified that parents can fill up the employer’s form if their children help them during vacations.

Children engaged in meaningful, socially productive work to supplement family income, including babysitting, will be rewarded.

The ministry says that the emphasis on providing socially useful and productive experience to the students is aimed at instilling in them understanding of socio-economic and cultural needs of society. It is also aimed at developing among the students the habit of working as community members and encouraging community thinking.

The ministry says that working together enables students to learn to solve problems, make decisions and successfully contribute to their community. Thus they can connect local concerns with global issues and gain awareness of others. This, Director Kesang said, will serve the students now and years later as they pass out of school and go into the world of work.

By Pema Tenzin

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