Cordyceps Collection, Early Marriage And Other Factors Cause Students To Drop Out Of School In Laya, Bhutan
Mr Thinley Rabgay from the Laya Central School conducted a research with a sample size of 200 collected from the vicinity in order to understand the school dropout situation and to recommend some preventive measures.
By Nima | Kuensel
According to a research conducted by a teacher, Thinley Rabgay from the Laya Central School. Cordyceps collection and early marriage influenced by cultural norms were major causes for students to leave schools prematurely. As a result, these students do not complete their basic education in the highland community of Laya in Gasa.
With a sample size of 200 collected from the vicinity, the research which took Mr Rabgay almost a year, was conducted in order to understand the dropout situation and to recommend some preventive measures.
Some of the variables which Mr Rabgay used for the research include: household responsibilities, economic factors, early marriage and pregnancy, family education, attitude of teachers, teaching-learning atmosphere, school facilities and the geographical location of the school.
In 2015, 11 students dropped out of school, 10 in 2017 and nine in 2014. Compared to 2017, Laya Central School had 11 fewer students enrolled in 2018 and three students discontinued from mid-term break this year. The school has 143 students today.
Reasons for the students to leave school
Of the total 188 participants included in the research, more than 53 percent of the respondents agreed that students left because of being the eldest child in the family while about 28 said they had to drop school to look after their younger siblings.
“This practice of the eldest sibling staying back home to help parents was considered a common custom of the community,” according to the research.
With only about eight percent of the total respondents agreeing that they had dropped out of school as a result of not being able to afford school necessities, this variable was thus ruled out as a reason for leaving school.
More than 80 percent of the students responded that they had dropped out of school to transport goods at home and to collect cordyceps for better earnings.
“Both parents and school dropouts say they focus on cordyceps collection since it gives them a minimum of Nu 100,000 as their annual income,” it stated.
Source: Dragon Herbs
Located 3,800m above sea level, the Laya community’s main source of income is through cordyceps collection, rearing of yaks, providing porter services and starting of business among others.
Some Layap girls leave school for marriage
The study showed that girls who reached the age of 15 often stopped school to get married. “This practice of early marriage is considered a custom in the community.”
It stated that out of the 53 dropouts, 34 were married and two had divorced. “The 11 dropouts who got married were below the age of 21 and 16 were between 21-30 years.”
The research indicated that the distance of the school from homes, inconvenient location and adverse weather are unfavourable factors which cause students to drop out of school. It stated that students fall ill as they descend to a lower altitude to study.
Advising parents on the importance of education
It has also been discovered that the school dropout rate has been increasing annually. This phenomena is alarming to the education sector and the school.
More than 20 percent of the respondents strongly agreed that there was little influence of parents’ awareness on the importance of education while 29 percent disagreed.
“The teachers have been giving a talk on the “Value of Education” to both parents and students and made the school more welcoming through various programmes and activities to reduce dropout rates.”
After completing class VIII from Laya Lower Secondary School, the students will join Bjishong Central School, which is located more than a day’s walk from Laya. Starting this April 2018, Laya Lower Secondary School was upgraded to a central school.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Bhutan Times.