Teachers separated by a generation share the glory of royal recognition
National Order of Merit (Gold): A few days before the National Day celebrations, a son teaching at Ugyen Academy in Punakha called up his father, also a teacher at Dorokha, Samtse.
“I’m going to receive an award from the King on National Day for being a good teacher,” he had said, barely able to suppress the excitement he felt inside.
The father, on the other end, feeling twice the excitement his son did, had to pause for a moment before echoing the news.
“So am I,” he told his son in an open jubilation.
They rejoiced in the news on the phone, and it was not long before the rest of the family members living in Samtse were roped in.
“What sheer coincidence this one and rare,” the father, Sher Bdr Pradhan, 58, said, the National Order of Merit (Gold) medal neatly pinned on the mathra gho he was wearing, along with a metal badge of His Majesty on the left side of his chest.
His 33-year old son, Kumar Pradhan, who was also wearing the medal, said the joy he felt doubled on learning his father was also going to receive the honour.
“Deep down, I always felt he deserved the award more than me, having taught for more than three decades,” he said, adding he was initially going to take the medal for his father, had he not been among the recipients.
Having been in the education sector for the last almost 36 years, choosing to teach in remote schools where many loathed to, Sher Bdr said he wished to continue teaching as contract teacher after superannuation this December end.
“I wish to continue teaching in whichever remote part of the country that is wanting of a teacher,” he said. “That’s where we can make a real difference, imparting what little we know where it’s required most, and this is what the medal indicates I do.”
Sher Bdr began his career in teaching since 1977.
He started the Tsamang school in Mongar, and headed it for nine years, following which he went to Gomdar primary school in Samdrupjongkhar, where he was the headmaster for five years.
There on, he taught at Buli primary school in Zhemgang for another eight years, before coming to Dorokha lower secondary school, where he has been teaching for the last 11 years.
Today, Sher Bdr speaks almost all dialects of the many communities he chose to teach at, from Khengkha to Sharchopkha to Kurtoepkha.
Kumar Pradhan, who studied up to Class X in Khaling, said, it was probably his father’s influence that fostered this passion for teaching.
“When I was in class X, my father would have me teach primary students,” he said, although, after his graduation from St Joseph’s college in Darjeeling in 2002 with a degree in B Com, he wished to become an accountant.
“My father asked me to try teaching once, which I did, I enjoyed it and, before I knew, 10 years have passed in this noble profession,” he said. “I may not be an accountant, but I’m teaching accountancy.”
A valuable lesson he emulated from his father, Kumar said, was to teach from the heart.
“He’d always say the valuable lessons a teacher imparted to students would accumulate interest over the years, so long as it came from the heart,” he said. “I’ve been doing just that and what a way to be recognised; on a National Day, by the King with a medal.”
Kumar Pradhan said he would continue teaching from the heart, which entailed he keep updating his content of the subject he taught, and focus on his delivery of them to his students.
“I have expectations to meet, that of the King, my father and my students, besides my own and I’ve strong conviction that’ll fulfill them,” he said.
By Samten Wangchuk