“We are ready to open the school anytime”

Says the principal of Punakha’s oldest school.

UNICEF Bhutan
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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
20 July 2020

Logodama, Punakha: It is not yet known when but when its students return, the oldest school in Punakha, Logodama Primary School will be different.

The 66 year -old school today wears the look of a newly constructed school. The walls and roofs have received a fresh coat of paint, the flowers have bloomed, and the school has installed new handwashing stations that are easily accessible by five year-old children.

“The pre-primary students are five years old, so the handwashing stations have to be built to their height,” says the principal, Jambay Gyeltshen.

The principal says that he discussed with the district engineer to improvise the standard design of handwashing station schools across the country received from the headquarters to make it accessible to the height of the smallest children.

The school is today constructing its sixth handwashing station, which when complete will take the total number of tap points to 32, benefitting 285 students. About 60 children are in pre-primary.

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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
Workers build a handwashing station to prepare the school for its reopening.

It was, however, a different story eight years ago.

When Jambay Gyeltshen joined as the new principal, the school did not have a single tap stand specifically for handwshing. 

“The school partnered with the parents and built four tap stands,” he recalls. “With the seed money of Nu 15,000 we received from UNICEF, we mobilized funds and built another tap stand last year.”

Jambay Gyeltshen says, the school supplemented the fund with the money it earned through the sale of pet bottles and recyclable waste.

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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
Logodama Primary School principal Jambay Gyeltshen.

Located about three kilometers away from Punakha proper, the school, overlooks the majestic Punakha dzong. Led by the principal, all 20 teachers and four support staff are today engaged in preparing the school for its reopening. Recently, the school managed to get the base course done on the rough road that connects the school to the town. About nine tippy taps are on standby in a classroom, ready to use whenever required. “Now I feel quite satisfied with the work that has been done in the school,” he says.

Two handwashing points are also installed at the entrances as part of the response to COVID-19. “My teachers and staff are supportive. All of us came together recently to carry the raw materials up to the water source.”

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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
Bottles of disinfectants and bards of soaps are ready for use.

The school also has soaps and its pouches ready for use along with disinfectants bottled and labelled class wise.

“COVID-19 gave us an opportunity to prepare our WASH facilities,” he says. “We are ready to open the school anytime.” 

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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
The school has set up two handwashing points at the entrances.
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UNICEF/Bhutan/SPelden/2020
One of the handwashing stations in the school.