Q. You hold various portfolios like education, environment, youth service & sports, labor welfare, parks & gardens, ICDS, etc. Which sector is on the priority basis?
All the sectors are important and can’t be ignored but education is prioritized over all other sectors. There are many things which need to be done especially in school education as compared to the higher education sector. Works are going under various schemes to improve school education. School buildings will be reconstructed in a solar passive way as per Ladakh’s topography. The Teacher-students ratio has always been a challenging task in Ladakh. Earlier it was 1:4, now it is 1:6 in government schools, which is still below the normal. To solve the issue we have suggestions and options of transportation and residential facilities for schools, which is under consideration.
Q. Schools in UT Ladakh will be affiliated with CBSE. Do we meet the standards and criteria laid down by the CBSE? Is it not possible to establish a new separate board for Ladakh?
From the next session, our schools will come under CBSE; curriculum and examinations will be held as per their norms. There is a notion among us that CBSE is a tough board as compared to other boards. We need to understand that the work of the board is to conduct examinations and make a curriculum but the quality of education depends on us, so there is not much of a difference.
Though we received multiple suggestions for the Ladakh board, we already had an ultimatum from the J&K board after bifurcation. So after multiple deliberations with experts, we decided to opt for CBSE instead of having our board. Having own board will have recognition issues and more time will be required to set up the new system. Therefore for time being, we had no option except for CBSE, but later we can think for the Ladakh board.
A team from CBSE has visited here twice and their focus was mainly on the 8th standard and in the coming days, infrastructural facilities will be developed according to their norms. Though we already had schemed to make school infrastructure better before this was taken because of funds constraints it was pending now the fund issue is solved after UT.
Q. How many functional and defunct government schools are in the district. What steps are being taken to improve the education quality in government schools?
We have 358 schools in total, and around 63 primary schools have been closed due to enrolment issues. In the year 2007-08 many private schools were established and many schools were upgraded under SSA, but the number of teachers remained the same, reason why many parents sent their children to private schools. There are 45 private schools in Leh. Few government schools like Ayee, Ronjuk, and Tangyar in Nubra which remained closed for years are now revived back because of government and parent's effort.
Nowadays facilities in government schools are improving and there is a sign that parents wanted to send their children to government schools because of high fees charged by private schools. Government is ready to give quality infrastructure and education to govt institutions. A new post for teachers will be created soon. If transportation and proper faculty will be granted then there is a good scope of reviving the schools which are shut down and Hill Council is working towards the same. Further, we are going to create School Managing Committee (SMC) to enhance community participation at the school, Zonal, and District levels to boost the monitoring system. With the establishment of SMC, we can improve the functioning of schools. The constitution of SMC is under process.
Q. What initiatives are being taken to achieve Carbon Neutral Ladakh. How practical is it to achieve the dream?
At the council level, solar passive government buildings are being built along with it the scopes for renewable energies are being explored.
Many projects are being initiated to reduce carbon emissions. Electric buses and scooters are already in Ladakh and soon we are going to get hydrogen fuel. The young generation should develop the culture of riding electric bikes and cycles, especially in summer. The procurement of vehicles in large numbers by the administration and movement of a group of vehicles along with the VVIPs contradicts the vision. We have already discussed the matter with Lt Governor, UT Ladakh.
There are many challenges such as the heating system used in winter months such as the burning of cow dungs, woods, and kerosene by almost every household. To replace the old traditional system we need clean energy alternatives. Ladakh will soon be connected with the grid system completely through which we will have multiple alternatives for a heating system. Most importantly we are creating awareness among school children and through them, society will be educated.
Carbon neutral Ladakh will be difficult but with everybody’s effort, we will achieve it for better tomorrow.
Q. Since you take charge of the Youth service & sports, brief us about the LAHDC plans and actions to promote and develop sports.
We have many talented players in different sports and Hill Council is always in support of it. In Ladakh, Ice hockey has been played for many years, but still needs to promote in remote regions of Ladakh. To promote at the grassroots level, each councilor has tried to establish at least one ice hockey rink in their respective constituencies. This year we have also allocated subsidies for the procurement of equipment.
Archery is a traditional sport of Ladakh, its promotion becomes more important. The archery equipment is being distributed in schools at subsidized rate. For this year we have allocated Rs.1crore for the subsidy on a trial basis, but in the future, we are going to enhance it as the equipment is very expensive in both cases. An effort is made to provide the facilities in schools for the effective promotion of sports.
Each game and sport is important for us and equal importance is given.
Q. Besides Dy Chairman you are a councillor of Diskit constituency. What are your past achievements and plans?
My constituency includes Tangyar, Digger, Khema, Rongdo, Rongjuk, Khardong and Shayok River. At this point, each village of my constituency has all the basic facilities like ration, drinking water, road connectivity, and electricity. Earlier there were few villages deprived of electricity, now each village is connected with electricity, not for 24x7 but at least for 8 hours. In addition, each region is connected to the internet, except for a few villages of Khardong and Digger. But towers have already been sanctioned and in the coming season, they will be functional. Khema being a high altitude and remote village road connectivity is a little challenging, therefore we put the road under PMGSY scheme for more funds. Under SDP we have planned to macadamize the roads, it got delayed as the region falls under Wildlife Act like Changthang. Therefore developmental works often get delayed.
Nubra is also a flood-prone area, earlier due to funding shortage we could not get a permanent solution. Now under SDP, we have allocated funds for the construction of a concrete wall along streams and rivers as a permanent solution. In addition, Nubra has high potential in hydropower, especially at Rongdo and Shayok river and DPR is ready. The foundation stones of a few important bridges have been laid and will help in connecting villages. In the coming season, Siachen Base Camp will be opened for the tourists, which will be a new tourism destination in Siachen Belt (Pharka).
Message to the readers
“Support of every individual is must to improve education. Generally, we leave the responsibility of education to school and teachers only. Society and parents also play a very crucial role. With a collective effort, we can achieve it.”