Sunday, May 29, 2011

Over view of the Second day INSET Programme

Two modules were covered today. They are Fundamentals of Teaching English to Young Learners and Classroom Management in Positive Approaches.  Under Fundamentals of Teaching English to Young Learners, we discussed developing contextual understanding, fundamentals of framework of our language programme, Reading, questioning for comprehension, the anatomy of a storyboard for young learners, improving comprehension for special students, a lighthearted reminder for spelling and spellings and vocabulary teaching.
Under Classroom Management, we discussed how to handle the low level disruptive behaviour students, and framing classroom rules and constructive consequences.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

INSET Programme for Teachers, Just a Beginning!

INSET Programme for teachers started in Tsirang from 28th May, 2011. The opening ceremony was done in DYT hall of Tsirang Dzongkhag. It was graced by Dasho Dzongdag of Tsirang Dzongkhag. He addressed the gathering that teachers are the main instruments to mould the future citizens of the country. He expressed his concerns for the children’s’ learning with the changing time.
The real session started after serving refreshment in Damphu LSS. The main objective of conducting this teacher inset programme is to provide the teachers with the skills on how to meet today’s classroom challenges with integrated solutions. According to the facilitators, there are eight modules. We were familiarized and finished discussion on two modules, who am I? , and Differentiated Instruction.
We learned that as a teacher, what are the qualities one need to possess. We also learned some of the key characteristics of a good teacher and bad teacher. We learned nine multiple intelligences and four learning styles which can be used for assessing children’s learning. Never the less we also came to know the different strategies and the ways that teachers can use to differentiate children’s learning ability.
Around 65 teachers from different schools in Dzongkhag are attending the training. This is the first batch attending the programme which is going to last for four days.
This is just the brief over view of the first day Inset programme. There are more to come and have many expectations from remaining three days.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Once Bamboo Thatched Roofed

Wamling is a small village located in Shingkhar Gewog, which is officially 7 days walk from Zhemgang Dzong in the past. Thanks for the modern developments and infrastructures. Now it takes only one to two days to reach to the village because of access to road. Wamling is a secluded place but full of paddy field starting from top to bottom of the village (Sengling thang to Zengling/Namling).
Shingkhar Gewog comprises five Chewogs, namely Shingkhar, Wamling, Thrisa on one side of Chamkhar Chhu and, Radhi and Nimzhong on the other side. There is a Primary School in Gewog centre which is supposed to be the oldest school in the Gewog. It must have been built around 1977 when late Dorjila was a Chimi of the Gewog. At present the other two Chewogs (Thrisa and Nimzhung) are access to a Community School each. This in fact has eased the admission pressure and minimized the distance the children had to travel till the Gewog centre.
An eye view of Wamling in winter from Upper village
Source: Lekey Dorji

As mentioned earlier, Wamling has good amount of land which can be used for cultivating paddy. This place has been blessed by His Eminence the sixth and seventh Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpochhe and has his monastery established in Wamling. Kheng Tshokeyling Monastery has been established in 2000 with 30 monks in Phu. 
Tshokeyling Monastery in Wamling

People live happily and self-sufficient with what they harvest from their land. The climate favours the people in the village to grow different types of crops (Dru Na Gu) the nine varieties of crops. Chilies, potatoes, garlic, spinach and ginger grow well in little higher altitude like Phu, Sengling thang, Mer ko be and Grok to la in the early season of the year than places in lower altitude. 
People from other Chewogs would come to trade/ buy paddy or rice from people of Wamling. People from lower Kheng (Maath) would also come with their bamboo products like banchung, beolo, palang, bamboo mat, etc. to trade for grains particularly for paddy/rice. People from Bumthang would also come to the village to trade their dairy products for rice and other grains. In fact it is a trade centre in the Gewog.

Wamling in Summer
Source: Lekey Dorj
Chou Chan and Kharang are no more taken by people since the last decade. The flour from maize is being used for feeding animals and brewing Bangchang and Churma (Ara). The living standards of people have changed dramatically. It is evident from the type of house people live in today. Almost every family lives in two storey houses which are roofed with CGI sheets. In the past the roofs of their houses were the thatched bamboo mat (Balep) where they had to spend a day to get one or two sheets of bamboo mat. Collecting bamboo for roofs used to be a crucial activity in winter and every household would be seriously engaged with this business. Some people who were affordable would go for wooden shingles (Pang kang) which demands lot of man power in the process. Most of the people go for bamboo mat which not only serves the roof for his home but for a shelter protecting their crops, firewood and for the animals.
There are two sources where people were bound to get bamboo for their houses. They are Shingkahrpai Ri (am mountain/land belonging to Shingkharpa) and Ser gu la (a mountain or a land belonging to Thrisapa). People living in lower altitude (Pampa) would choose any of these sources but no choice for people residing in higher altitude (Gon pa pa) They had to either go to Ser gu la or Ta rey thang, a land which is owned by Wamlingpa. But distance matters a lot. Usually, most of the people choose to go to Ser Gu la side.
The journey has to start with the first or second crow of rooster with a Mepchey (Kaawn in local dialect) in the absence of the Moon light. Before really going to collect the bamboos, they would plan and find who would be going for the collection. It was usually the responsibility of men and boys to collect the bamboos but family who doesn’t have men, the women and girls were taken by their parents with them. Our parents would send us early to bed so as to wake up early with first crow of the rooster. By then, breakfast, delicious lunch would have been ready and particularly, our mother would wake us. Boys loved going for Rui (bamboo) collection because they get delicious food/curry. The nature of the work itself was tiresome and parents feed them with good and delicious meal.
When mother wakes us, we just need to wash our face, have breakfast, take patak (knife), ma ling kai and Phrak zhu (rope), and Gala pa ney (muffler )  and Lag shop (hand gloves) to protect ourselves from extreme cold. With a Kaawn, we would be leaving for Ser gu la, calling and collecting friends from their house. By the time we reach Kringpola/Phu, it would have been dawn. Climbing up the steep slope/hill/mountain would be a challenging task. We need to pass a place call Tang. It is a beautiful place where there are three small lakes (Tsho). Tang is still being used by the people of Wamling as grazing land for their cattle. The next place that we need to pass is the scary and fearsome Wambrak (clif). Then reach to Pong de la. This is a place which divides the distance equally. There we would have little breakfast to reenergize and refill our stomach. Lunch should be kept hiding in the bushes/under dried leaves or under the roots of trees. 
Bamboo forest,
When arrived to final destination (Ser gu la) it would have been stroked 9:30-10:00 AM. We would locate the places where we would get plenty of Rui (bamboos) at one go. We would scatter in different directions in order to save our time. The sound of cutting and chopping of Rui (bamboos) could be heard louder as if the armies firing their guns in wars. “Ow, weith Ag pa myang pay” which means how many you fetched so far, would be the frequent questions asked to each other in the bamboo field. Some would say just 15 or 20 or some say Tong Kher tak, Phek sang Chuth ta, etc. which means they are almost done and ready to leave home. We need to hurry but if someone is not ready, we need to help and make sure we all move together.
Thought tiresome, coming down from the mountain would take lesser time to reach home. But when reached to Keer Wang Khag, a place where we need to pull up ward would take almost 30-45 minutes. The place is before we reach to Pong de la for lunch. Our eyes would feel like bulging out from their sockets and our body would tremble out of hunger and thirst because of the tremendous force that we need to apply to pull the bamboos. Some Hitlers as we would describe would reach earlier than others and they would show their humanity to come for Gam Tok. He or she would push from the behind/tail of Rui. Finally we would reach to Pon de la, where we would take our almost frozen lunch. After a short rest we need to resume our journey so that we are not late for the weaving. There would be a kind of competition to see who would reach to a resting place without taking rest in between.
We would compare Rui and pass comments regarding the size and length of the bamboos. If the bamboos are short, elders would nick name Tshan ta la. Tshan ta is a square hand woven bamboo mat meant for drying grains and other things above the oven.  Tang is a departing point for Gon pa pa and Pampa/Krongpa. They would bid farewell to each other and ask if they would go for Rui the next day. 
Weaving bamboo mat,

Strong and muscular men (Nyegay) would carry around 75 numbers of Rui out of which three sheets of mat would be woven. Ordinary men would carry 50 numbers of Rui for two sheets of mat and teenagers would carry 25-30 numbers for one sheet of mat. It depends upon the length and size of the bamboo too. Neighbour would come to ask/beg for Pheg sang (bamboo leaves meant for making broom) and young boys and girls would come for Pak Shu ma (a matured bamboo cut either into half or quarter to tie bamboos together). Boys use it for making Pak Shu mai Lee (bow) and Mya (arrows), and Chhe kang (Kongthang) and other weaving/netting materials by the girls.
Now people do not go for all these activities so much as their needs have been fulfilled by CGI sheets. Youths of today in our village are lucky and no worries of getting exhausted in their winter holidays. This is the indicator that GNH is experiencing in our village too.

Royal Wedding, happy news

Finally, with the opening of the 7th session of parliament today, His Majesty the fifth King himself has announced the Royal Wedding which would going to take place somewhere in October this year. 

This has been the concern and worries of his people till date but today, as said by His Majesty, people of 20 Dzongkhags are immensely happy and celebrating their happiness and joyousness to the fullest from the hour they got hit by the great news.  Every sorrows or miseries seem to have been erased out of their mind.

Let me pay my humble and heartfelt Trashi Delek to His Majesty and Ashi Jetsun Pema in advance. Trashi Delek La.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Archery an undying game for me

I do not exactly remember when and how I learned to play archery, the national game of Bhutan. But now, I can immensely derive pleasure out of playing this traditional game. Since I was an infant, this game used to be popular in my village and competitions were held among the villagers especially during Losar (Dawa Dhangpa, Dawa Nyepa, Ngyempa Gu zom, Thribap, or on other special occasions). 
Aiming position, making sure to hit the target
 I remember as a little boy, how we used to play   archery in our village. Just like the elders we young boys go crazy after this game.We used to organize competitions among ourselves. In those days hitting the target in every round was not a big problem. With self- made bow and arrows we were equally good in scoring points. 

About to release the arrow
Once it was losar, and the elders were having competition. It was time for their lunch. Three of us who were still too early to participate in their team just went to take the advantage of their absence to see whether we could reach their target range. It was my turn to shoot my first arrow. I released it, of course flying it from the zenith, hit the target.  

After release position

Elders were just laughing. Then I released my second arrow. It went from the same height. Surprisingly, it also landed on the target. Elders started coming to see my arrows landed on the target. They really appreciated my success and capacity. From next losar, I got a license to play in elders’ team. Thanks for that Dobji!

My friends getting ready for the practice, 2011
There was no separate space for the archery. We used to play in the open ground or Aring (paddy field) because the Losars usually fall somewhere in winter. There would be usually two teams for the match, namely Gonpa pa (people residing in higher altitude) and Krongpa/Pampa (People residing in lower altitude) or Gathpo (old men) and Zhun ba (young men).  The prominent spaces where we used to play are Sang Sa be, Phu mi tag pa, Barpa sa, Tek tek lai pang and Gu li pang thang.  Phu mi tag pa is supposed to be the longest target range and Tek tek lai pang as the shortest. People who don’t play would come and witness the game. They cheer up and encourage the team.
An archer with an artificial  foreign bow
The practice of feeding our opponent team member (byjing chay-sow) is still there in our village. One has to feed the opponent team member for a night/day. Next day it will be opponent team member’s turn to feed the other. The host has to provide special food with the drinks if he takes. The losar celebration would last for two to three days where archers and their wife/family would gather in one of the houses to fest themselves. in  the evening of the final day.The event would not be without Ara and banchang. They dance and sing until it is dawn.
Just two years old archer about to release his arrow

Traditionally, women are not allowed to touch an archer's bow and arrows, and it is believed that if an archer sleeps with a woman or a girl a night before the contest, it will have negative effects on its performance the next day. So, the men avoid sleeping with the women if there is any archery match the next day. Some they even go out of their house to spend their night in Lhakhangs and Nyekhangs carrying their bows and arrows. I believe this practice is still being followed by most of the archers in the country. 
Biginner in practice, trying hard to reach the target

Even today, I feel restless when we have planned to have the matches. Sometimes I wish that it would have been nice to have the match on the very day. I cannot wait for the day. I have the habit to open my quiver and examine my arrows twice a day (once in the morning and once before I go to bed) to make sure that they are straight.  I get satisfied even with a Karey in a day/match. I do not mind whether it is a scorching sunny day or rainy day, I am ready to rush to the play ground if someone is ready to accompany me or invite for their team! Though I am not a sharp shooter, I must continue to play until my breath stops. That’s for sure.    

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Global Action Week, 2011

The Global Action Week was observed in Damphu Lower Secondary School too which was initiated by the school UNESCO Club. The theme for the Global Action week for this year was Women and Girls’ Education. It addresses the problems that girls and women face in achieving quality education throughout the world. It also addresses the numerous benefits to the wider community when women are educated and the various mechanisms and solutions that can be used to help empower women and girl learners across the globe. Every one of us agrees that education is important and everyone has right to education.
The UNESCO club of the school has planned a series of activities to observe the week efficiently and productively. Every morning, 1-2 students were given opportunity to talk/speak in the morning assembly. The main stuff of the speakers/presenters was related to the Women and Girls’ Education. They were given either to speak in Dzongkha or English as per their choice and ability. Some of the teachers also took part in sharing their views on current Education of Women and Girls in the country.
Drawing and essay competition among the students were also conducted on the same theme. Many students participated in the competition. Handsome prizes were awarded to the winners.
On the concluding day, the club invited chief guest/guest speaker from the Dzongkhag. The chief guest, Dasho Dzongrab highlighted the importance of Women and Girls in the society and their education. Songs/dances and skit were presented by the UNESCO Club members and other volunteer-students.
The skit starts with the son going to school and meeting the bad company. He is not interested to study and it is time for him to appear his examination. He tells lie to his innocent and illiterate mother. Now it’s the result day and the son feels too confident and tells his friends that he would beg the first position from his class. It becomes just opposite – a last person who fetches 10 out of 100 marks. The boy plans every possibility to deceive his mother. He adds two zeros to his marks which makes 100 out of 100.
The mother asks the son about his performance in the examination.  The son proudly says that he scored 100 out of 100. Mother becomes tremendously happy and proud of her son. The son demands so many from poor mother which she agrees. But in the mean time the sister of the boy arrives and asks “What is going on?” The mother happily replies,   “see our Tashi has stood first from his class scoring 100 out of 100.”   The sister snatches question paper and looks at the marks carefully. She knows that it’s not the original marks and she tells the truth to her mother. The mother regrets and feels disappointed. She complains that her parents had not sent her to school and now her own child his troubling her.
Finally, she gives the message that Women and Girls need to be educated in order to help learners learn productively in a family and the society at large. The programme ended with Vote of Thanks by one of the club members.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Wonder Why?

I wonder why only the teachers? I wonder why teachers are looking for the brighter side of their life. If you ask any teacher about their job, they say its hectic and tiresome job. A very few teachers enjoy this profession. Currently, the Ministry of Education and RCSC has come up with another new rule to retain teachers forever as teachers and this seems to have really increased the sum of disappointment for the teachers.
Decade ago, this profession is loved by almost every people in the country and many used to rush for this noble profession. But now the impression and the image of being teachers have really changed depressingly. There are so many factors which effects the change. People say this profession is the last option and this I believe is true up to certain extent. I wonder how many future teachers are going to enter this profession. How long will it take to solve the teacher shortage in the country? Do they love to be in the same profession throughout their life is the hundred dollars question. One will know the real essence and the taste of this profession if one ever becomes a teacher.
A teacher keeps standing all day

I wonder why teachers are blame if children fail because of their carelessness. Does it mean that teachers do not teach them? Is it that they all should be made pass whether they work hard or not?
I wonder how many of you acknowledge teachers and thank them if children do better in their studies or life-long skills. How many of you feel that their success is the collective effort of teachers and the students?
I wonder why teachers are blame if they raise their voice for any changes of rules when others are free to do so! Don’t teachers have emotions and feelings? Don’t they have sense of judging the right and the wrong?
I wonder why teachers are blame for any mistake done by the students not knowing it is their fault. Is it enough for them to seek advice only from the teachers - excluding parents and elders?
I wonder why teachers are asked to wear ghos and kiras only when others are allowed to wear any types of dress irrespective of the venue. Are they only the one to preserve our culture and tradition or does it mean they are the only patriotic citizen?  What about others? Are they not the sons and the daughters of Palden Drukpa?
I wonder why teachers are blamed for taking alcohol when others enjoy day and the night. Don’t they have sense of enjoyment and relaxation? Or is it that teachers should be non-alcoholic? If so this should be one of the entry criteria for the teaching profession.
I wonder why the societies demand/expect a lot from the teachers when the demands from the teachers are not fulfilled by the society.
I wonder why teachers are treated different from other society after all they are also human being.  I neither expected my teachers to have all above qualities nor do I expect my teachers to have all these qualities. I am thankful to them. I am what I am now because of them only. Whatever the people say, remember the Tibetan saying “Fa-Lama Meipai Gong roel na, Bu Sangay Zhe pai ming yang mey”, that there is no way where one can attain Buddha hood in the absence of a Lama or a teacher.