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The best start

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Most of us have heard those stories from our parents, grandparents, relatives, maybe even teachers.

When modern schooling in the country first started to expand in the late ‘50s, students for schools, set up in makeshift huts with a few teachers, had to be picked up from the villages.

Parents hid their children, declared some to be not normal, and put forward those, who probably had an inclination towards mischief.

They went to school with perhaps only a single set of clothes, the ones they were wearing, and with nothing on their feet.  They studied in Hindi and, by the time they completed primary education, many were in their late teens.

Too old to go for further schooling, but perhaps just right with the basic reading, writing and other functional skills to work, in various capacities, for the government that was literally run with a white collar workforce from outside.

This generation understood the value of academic education in a rapidly changing Bhutan that was slowly but surely being pried open to a world beyond the mountains.  Their children were sent to schools, and some joined when they were not even six, the stipulated age to enter the education system.  But it was not a problem then, because the school system was expanding, and schools had room to take in the underage.

Part of the logic was not to miss out on higher learning opportunities, like they did, because of the age factor.  Besides, it allowed room for failing a class or two, and still not being too old.

Older children being in lower classes was still a widespread phenomenon even two decades ago, but many were given double promotions and moved up because they had mentally developed to grasp more complicated concepts taught in higher classes.

Today, the trend is such that most parents want to put their children in school as early as possible, or least much earlier than what government schools stipulate.  The logic remains the same – start early, finish early.

How deep rooted this trend has become is best illustrated in a recent case, where a parent actually manipulated census records of the child to make him older, and therefore eligible to join a government school.

In many urban centres, many young parents are putting their kids to school earlier, in private schools, not only to start early, but also because of other pressures of living in a nuclear family.  With maids and baby sitters of affordable rates hard to come by, the better option is to start their schooling early.

But there is a reason why starting school is set at six years.  What perhaps has not been explained is why it is so.  In some European countries, schooling years start at seven, based on extensive research that a child’s mental and emotional faculties need to be developed to a certain level.

Parents need to know why six is the best time to send kids to school.

2 Comments to “The best start”
  1. tamesonam | January 13th, 2013 at 21:40:50

    I teach, but as of now I shall personify as a parent and comment on the above issue.

    The government’s main aim, right from the start of its educational programme, was to ‘educate’ both the parents and the children the importance of education and the former learning their lessons well.
    Today’s parents are willing to go to any extent to educate their children, so to say any extent.

    What happened in the past cannot be used as a reference point to decide the age at which a child should be admitted in school, especially when considering the kind of development Bhutan is presently going through.

    International standards, if it has to be taken, says that a child should be admitted in Kindergarten before attaining the age of four years but not earlier than three and half years of age.

    Looking closely at it, the urban parents ‘manipulate’ to admit their children too early whereas the rural parents are perfectly denied that choice, one of the main reason for rural-urban migration. The city has other ‘free’ facilities for this attraction.

    Lastly, it is pure insanity to quote the standards followed in European countries to justify an issue in Bhutan. Even if the European style of functioning is to be taken into consideration, then the age of six is too early for our children!

    One thing is assured, either the authorities who designed this rule, personally, do not have children pertaining to the prescribed year group or they have already admitted their children and are in higher classes, beyond being detected that they were admitted earlier in schools.

    The rule of admitting children after they have attained the age of six has been there for a very good period of time, and does it goes on to say that all the children in schools now are in the appropriate classes, as calculated from six? No. I know many who do not fall in that category.

    It is important to see the conditions in Bhutan and its citizens to formulate a system for its people.

    Let positivism prevail!

  2. XXX | January 12th, 2013 at 13:35:56

    But first and foremost thing is Education officials themselves should follow strictly with the rule;We know all most all the teachers those who had kids teacher’s enjoy manipulating their child’s age to enroll their child before age 6 for being teachers . Why can’t other people who are not teachers can’t do that or don’t want to enroll their kids early to school to complete education early.

    If we carry out research it will be not shocking to find some under aged kids belong to teachers themselves. So why others can’t enjoy the same; should all become teachers so that they can enjoy to enroll their kids without having to fulfill the criteria

    We know teachers themselves manipulate their kid’s age for being teacher to enroll their own under age child. So there is no point to report manipulation of age of kids. Teacher should lead by example.

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