Tenzin Wangchuk, Thimphu
The extended summer holidays for school children has come as a boon for farming parents as most students are engaged in farming activities at this time of the year.
July heralds the season for paddy plantation, one of the most labour intensive, and the additional hands come as a much needed relief to farmers who are faced with acute labour shortage in the rural pockets.
The closure of schools for summer vacations means school children are available to help their parents in the farms.
A father of two Tika Ram, 46, from Phuentenchu gewog in Tsirang said that his sons are fully engaged in the paddy plantation works as it is the most important and difficult farming activity of the year.
“Earlier my children had to leave back for schools midway through the summer break, but starting this year they can be fully engaged in the rice plantation works. I am very much relieved and the education ministry’s initiative to extend the summer holidays is a laudable effort especially for farming parents like us,” Tika said.
Like Tika Ram’s sons, 15-year-old Dechen Dema, also from Phutenchu gewog in Tsirang, said that she will spend the entire month’s holiday to help her parents in the farm.
“Apart from my grandparents my parents have nobody to rely on especially to help them in their farms. I can use my holidays to go and work at my neighbour’s farms who will in turn come to work at ours,” the fifteen year old said.
Like Dechen Dema and other students living in the rural pockets of the country, summer holidays means a season to help their parents in their farms as most of the farming activities are carried out in the months of June and July.
“The extension of summer holidays for school children is a very good initiative by the government as we need them, the children, to help us in the farms,” Meena Gurung, 32, said adding that winter breaks are usually spent whiling away their free time as most of the farm works would have been completed by then.
In the towns too, school children are busy engaging themselves in productive activities like attending trainings and other classes that will be useful in their career path. Some even work part time to earn some pocket money when they return back to school after their holidays.
18-year-old Tandin Phub from Paro said that he has already started working with a construction company to earn some money.
“My mother is a single parent and I have three other siblings. Being the eldest in the family I try to help my mother in whatever small measures I can so that it help release a small burden from my mother,” Tandin added.
Tandin is paid a daily wage of Nu 400 and his duties include helping carry rocks and cement bags in the construction site. There are also a few other children working at the site but they shy away from being interviewed.
Like Tandin and his friends, summer holidays starting this year, will be a time to do part time jobs to earn some extra pocket money before the start of the other half of the school academic session.
Children say that extending the summer holidays has come as a boon for them as they will be able to help their parents in the farms. “Earlier we had to leave mid-way before finishing our farm works as the holidays were short. But starting this year we will be able to stay back and help our parents’ finish all farm works before we leave back for school,” Tshering Dema, a class IX student of KHangkhu MSS in Paro, said.
The school going students of Phuentsholing, Gelephu, Sarpang and Samdrupjongkhar and those in the hotter districts are the most excited as they are spared from having to go to schools in the scorching summer sun.
“The summer holidays have come as a much needed blessing for us as it is very difficult for us to attend classes in the heat. We can hardly concentrate in our studies and it is good that the summer vacations have been extended to a month,” Dil Maya, a student of Samtse HSS said.