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There are 51 schools performing at the National Drama Festival
There are 51 schools performing at the National Drama Festival

National drama competition rolls on

On September 19, 32 students and two teachers of Zhemgang Central School (ZCS) journeyed 18 straight hours to reach Thimphu. The students of the school’s drama club are in Thimphu to perform Zheydhey Norbu. It’s a story about how Gongsar Jigme Namgyel blessed Bhutan peace with his arrival.

About forty dramas had been performed since August 16 at the first-ever national drama festival.

Kelzang Wangchuk, a student, said that every day after the class, at 4 in the evening, the drama club got together to practise for about an hour and half. “When we heard that there was a competition, the school made a separate club for drama.”

Lead by the Education ministry’s performing arts director, Charmi Chheda, the participants of the drama received feedback to improve. The performance started at six in the evening of September 22.

ZCS competed against four schools within the dzongkhag.

Charmi Chheda said that the biggest challenge would be, people not knowing or understanding the importance of theatre and arts in a students life. “The investment made towards this venture is worth it all because,  it’s surely changing lives, shaping minds and creating a positive impact in every child’s life,” she said. “Holistic education is indeed important and art is what makes the education holistic.  The skills such as empathy,  creativity and imagination required to build global citizens cannot be taught in classrooms.  It is only in this extended classroom called stage,  is where children will become beautiful adults.”

There are 51 schools performing at the National Drama Festival. About 200 schools have participated in the competition and more than 8,000 students were exposed to drama this year.

Teacher at Babesa Middle Secondary School, Ngedup Tshering, said that schools in rural areas did much better. “I think that students in urban areas are engaged in gadgets while the students in rural areas are totally focused in drama preparation.”

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, Education Minister, Norbu Wangchuk said that the drama is a part of education reform process and is aimed at promoting holistic education through theatre. The last education conference had decided to promote meaningful and productive dramas in the schools.

Charmi Chheda said that when such platform is provided, kids who don’t do academically well would know that there are other skills and potential. “There are kids who are shy and have changed after participating in here. It is also about creating excitement and memories in one’s life.”

Top three performers of the drama competition will receive cash prize.

The National Drama Festival will end on October 5.

“Holistic education is indeed important and art is what makes the education holistic.  The skills such as empathy,  creativity and imagination required to build global citizens cannot be taught in classrooms.  It is only in this extended classroom called stage,  is where children will become beautiful adults.”

Phurpa Lhamo

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