Friday, August 23, 2013

The Story of Change from Eastern Bhutan

Gangla Khema Primary School.  Estd: 2002

Gangla Khema Primary School under Lhuentse Dzongkha in the north-east part of Bhutan begs First Price at the 3rd Awards Ceremony of Design for Change Bhutan 2013. Design for Change is a world initiative to empower children around the world.

The event was held on Sunday, 18th August in Motithang High School auditorium. The Award Ceremony was organized by Early Learning Center, the DFC country Partner. 17 schools participated this year for the contest- 3 from Luentse, 1 from Trashiyangtse, 2 from Chukha, 1 from Paro and 10 schools from Thimphu valley.
Students gathered for a reading session.

Like any other remote school, Gangla Khema Primary School also had a dreadful problem. The hygiene of the children was severely neglected by their parents.  The children were suffering from Itchiness and rashes were plenty on their body, fungal infection on heads and wounds on their legs were a common sight. Lots of lice and its nit invaded their hair and their body and mouth were stinking badly. The children were found having meals with long, dirty nails and being absent were the order of the day. The long distance and the rugged route from their houses to school would make them sweat a lot and the uniform they have worn would get muddy while they reach their school. Owing to these difficulties and ill health the children couldn't concentrate in the class- a problem so important to solve at the earliest hour.

After much discussion with the parents and the students, “Hygiene for Head, Heart and Hand” was taken up as their Design for Change initiative.

Cupboards for students to keep their uniform
With dying need to start the project, the school management used the fund of Nu 5000 which was given by the Dzongkhag Education Office for the school to celebrate World Water Day. The management used the fund to purchase tooth brushes, tooth pastes, nail clippers, soaps, mediker and toilet papers.

The school provided shoe rags and cupboards for the children to keep their uniforms at school when they leave for home after the school hour. The students of class V and VI were paired with class PP and I students so they could help the younger kids wash their hands and legs properly.

From the following day, as soon as the children reached the school then they brush their teeth, wash their legs, head and wear their school uniform. The management has also hung a mirror for the children to help comb their hair and help them dress properly.

Every Thursday afternoon, the students keep aside their learning to take a bath. The senior students help their adopted brothers and sisters to take a bath, trim their nails and clean their ears.
The Principal trimming his student's hair with a hair clipper.

All the boys of Gangla Khema decided to trim their hair short with the help of hair clippers four times a year to avoid fungal infection and keep their head free from lice and nit. 
Boys of Gangla with their Principal

Similarly, the girls decided to apply mediker four times a year to remove lice and nit. After applying this medicine, they massage it thoroughly and keep their head covered by a piece of cloth for 3 hours. Then they comb their hair and wash it with the help of soap.   
Girls of Gangla on their hair/head treatment

To sustain this program the school has started cultivating vegetables at the school campus and start poultry. The school has already discussed with a boarding school nearby which has agreed to purchase the vegetables and eggs from their small poultry farm. And after witnessing a drastic change in the overall hygiene of their children the parents also has agreed to pay Nu 30 each annually to sustain the program.
Students  involved in growing vegetables 
Gangla Khema Poultry Farm

When the principal of the school shared his story of change in the auditorium, i felt for those innocent children    in the depth of my heart. i couldn't help listening to the principal and staring at the photographs shared by him to tell the story.

Gangla Khema is one school among 500 plus schools across the country which has dared to do something and see the change they wanted to see.  HATS OFF to the Principal of the school, teachers, students and the parents for having achieved so much with so little resources and for silently telling us ‘I can and you can, and together we can bring the change in the world'.

Photo courtesy: Principal of Gangla Khema Primary School, Lhuentse.

With the Rolling Trophy and A Projector (First Price) the Principal of Gangla Khema  stands for  a  snap.
Photographers seen in the frame: The principals of Baktong and Dangling Pry Schools from Lhuntse.


  1. It brought tears in my eyes as I went thru this post. Wonderful post! So inspiring! The Gangla school staff were just amazing. This is truly what a school could be. I can do lots besides teaching text books. Thanks for sharing, Gayatri.

  2. This is one hell of a inspiring note for every teachers in schools and I must say, I am inspired. Totally.
    Congratulation to the Principal! Oh and the fact that the school was from eastern region, I am double proud as I am from Mongar :)
    I do have those memories during my primary school days where I cut my hair in school and surprised my family at home. I remember my head being burnt by the sun and often feeling shy at the assembly ground although I wasn't the only one bald. Haha! And then, I don't remember at all of how I spent my days thereafter. Smilesss! It is a good memory though!!!


  3. This is an inspiring story I read in a while. Congratulations to Principal, teachers and staffs of Gangla Khema Primary School who saw the need, dared to take up the challenge and were rewarded with success. It is smallest of such contributions that makes a huge difference. Hats off to Gangla Khema Pry. School. Thanks Gaytri Sir for sharing.


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