In conversation with Tsewang Dorjey Alchi, Incharge Principal, Govt. Higher Secondary School, Saspol

By Kunzang Chosdol & Rigzin Wangmo LEH, Mar 15, 2018
After serving as a teacher and as a lecturer in various schools of Leh district, Tsewang Dorjey was awarded for his outstanding contribution in administration, Leh district, on the Republic Day, 2015. Also, on the Independence Day, 2017, he received the State award of J&K CM’s Gold Medal for honesty, integrity and meritorious public service.

Tsewang Dorjey, from Alchi, graduated from GGM Science College Jammu and pursued M. Sc Physics from Jammu University. In 1997, he started his career as a teacher. In June 2003, he was appointed as Physics Lecturer through PSC in Boys Higher Secondary School Leh. From 2009-17, he worked as a principal in various Higher Secondary schools. Presently, he is an Incharge Principal at Government Higher Secondary School, Saspol.

In this issue, we have Tsewang Dorjey to share his experiences and a piece of advice to the students to curb stress and tension during the examination.
Q. For how long have you served as a lecturer? What kind of challenges do you see in Ladakh in terms of educational facilities?

Since 2003, I have been working as a lecturer and also served as a Principal for the  last seven years, through which I got a chance to deal with a different level of students at various Higher Secondary schools.

If we talk about the challenges, we do have lots of it, but on the other hand, we have improved a lot in the education system. The speed at which our Government schools are improving is incomparable with the other schools of J&K.

However, because of poor internet facilities, teachers and students face many challenges as they could not take advantage of the internet as other students in the state do.
Q. How has your education and life experiences prepared you for this position? Tell us about your experiences working with students at this age level.

Since I worked in different schools of the region, I get to interact with students from different family backgrounds and learned to manage with them accordingly. Since I come from a poor family, I can easily understand the feelings and situation of those children and try to give my best input to shape, guide and motivate them in the right direction.

However, till today, I have not experienced any bad situation while at schools. It is very sensitive to deal with the teenage students because at this stage students could not understand the right and wrong direction of their life. So many mistakes take their life in the wrong direction. So we, as guides, have to think twice before guiding them keeping in mind the consequences of the work. It is very important to know how to deal with the students at a different stage.

In the past, the teacher used to be the only means to learn things for the students but today they get exposure not only from school but from different other means which help the teacher to deal with them very easily. 

But on the other hand, because of the internet services, students seem to be taking less interest in studies along with its many benefits. There are advantages and disadvantages of internet facilities, one should use it wisely in the right way for the right thing.

Q. How do you view the education scenario in Ladakh? Are there any changes in the system or it’s still the same?

The education scenario in Ladakh is quite good as compared to the past scenario. But we need to understand the true meaning of education. Education means to get a value-based education rather than looking at it as a means for livelihood. There are two types of it, one for happiness and the other for livelihood. Unfortunately, today people view education as a means to make livelihood. It may be because we are looking at it in a wrong way or maybe lack of understanding of the importance of real education. So there is a need to change the way we think towards education. We should strive to get real education so that we can get both happiness as well as livelihood.

As compared to the past, there are lots of changes we see in the education system of Ladakh. But one thing is that there is a very slow change because the process of making it better is slow. Our education system is far better in terms of availability of teacher, duty system, and sense of responsibility among teachers as compared to the other schools of our state.

Q. In your opinion, what are the most common problems of students in Ladakh?

One of the most common problems faced by the students is the lack of proper guidance for them at school and home. Due to lack of guidance, students are not being able to make their way out and get stuck with a number of problems in life.

Most of the students look for an easy way out for everything in life. There are some who look for future, takes pain and struggle but some easily give up. The main factor behind this is the parents as they give everything easily to their children, which, in the long run, ruins their lives.

I have an example of a student who wanted to leave school, but when we came to know his situation and problem, we were able to provide him proper guidance, and he proved himself by scoring top in 12th examination in the whole district. Such examples make me feel better and get satisfaction.

Q. Now that the Board Exams are round the corner, many students are seen stressed.  How can a student cope with the stress related to studies? Is there any way out?
The main reason behind stress during examination time is the lack of a proper plan by the student as well as the concerned people. If a student prepares his mind and has a proper study plan from the beginning, then there is no need to take the stress. Not preparing for the exams from the beginning means preparing at the last stage which further causes tension and stress. Taking stress is not the solution rather disturbs you to provide your best during the examination.

Even in our society, we view board examination as a phobia when actually it’s nothing but just to pass a level. The mindset of people and students towards the board examination should be changed.

Board examination is not so hard to take it very seriously but at the same time, one should not take it so lightly. A proper study plan and time management are needed to be framed very prior to the examination. Give out your best and follow the study plan.

Q. Many suicide cases were there in the past because of failure in examination, unemployment and depression. What is the best solution to prevent it?

In our society, we see that people keep high expectation from their children and when the children fail to meet up to their expectation they end up committing suicide or other cases. In such a case, we never see what kind of atmosphere we are providing for them, this is very important every parent must realise. Today, most of the parents expect good from their children by letting them be happy with money. Children take the money as a long way of happiness and hence divert their attention from studies. However, parents expect their children to be successful. When the expectations fail, children take drastic steps.

Like every day is a new day, in life, there is always a new opportunity after every failure. If one will not fail, he or she cannot learn the importance of success in life. So, one should look it as a second chance to do better than earlier.

Regarding unemployment, people always say that after completing studies one must get a government job. So the student thinks that he has completed his studies but unable to get a job, he takes it as a failure in life. This thinking should change for everyone. There is a very limited government job, and they should look inside themselves to find what kind of talents and skills they have which they can put into practice and create job opportunities for the others as well.

Q. Do we have career counseling facilities in Ladakh? Do you think it is important and whose responsibility is it to set up such mechanisms, individuals, schools or colleges? Does the government have a role to play?

Yes, we do have career counselling facilities provided by the government in district Employment and Counseling Centre Leh. But the same is not properly available to the students of far-flung areas and there is no proper guidance that the students are getting out of it. It is important to have career counselling facilities in the schools.

The lack of guidance is causing a problem in students’ life. It is just not the responsibility of the schools, colleges or the government to set up career counselling, it is the responsibility of the entire society to work towards it and bring change by sharing their own experiences to the people and show them the right path. On the other hand, the government must implement the systems uniformly in all schools.

Q. Most of the students are seen taking coaching and tuitions in winter. What is the reason behind that? Is syllabus not covered in schools?

Students take tuitions not because the syllabus is not covered in schools but mostly they consider as add-on privilege and that is the reason we see many students taking coaching in winter breaks. There are many who get influenced by their friends also. 

The tuition centres should not be just a profit-making institute, they should be able to deliver the knowledge that a student is looking for and even the students must check whether they are able to understand the lessons taught during the tuitions. After exams, I see many students taking tuitions, I would suggest that there are other activities apart from studies which might be of their interest and should take part in those activities too.

There are both advantages and disadvantages; many students are seen paying less attention to the lesson taught while they are in school and disturbs the entire class. There is not much difference in the students who do not take tuition because the results are somewhat similar.

Q. The students from Ladakh, when they go for further studies to other places, it has been observed that many students lack confidence and they are not able to cope up with the environment there. What is the reason?

The reason why students from Ladakh lack confidence is because they are entirely dependent on their parents while at home, they are in a comfortable zone that every work of children get completed by the parents. So when they go outside, they may feel uncomfortable and can’t  cope up with that atmosphere because everything becomes different then.

As we all see the changes that have taken place, students take the help of internet and copy assignments given to them by the teachers and that is the reason there is less of brainstorming. There mental and spiritual level will degrade to an extreme.

The qualities that students inherit by choosing the easy methods leads to lack of confidence as they come out of their niche. The problem starts when they have to do things all alone after stepping out of the place. The environment in other places is completely different and the ideology also differs. There might be the difference in the teachers here and outside Ladakh. The other main problem is the language barrier because in Ladakh every subject is given equal importance; so, the language subjects like Hindi, English are given less importance and it is treated as a subject that includes in the syllabus but not as a language.

Q. What role does a teacher can play in reducing the stress and anxiety among the students during an examination?

The society, parents and teacher should be able to give a complete environment to the children which I think is lacking. Most of the parents are busy in their jobs and other work and some might feel that they are not getting enough space to do their work, so in that case, parents send their children to hostels.

I don’t agree that just by spending huge money on education will not result in the overall development. They might gain in knowledge and information but they are not getting value-based education. So when the child comes back home they do not seem familiar with the culture here.

Everybody is responsible, so to avoid such things in future, parents, teachers and the society should give proper time to the students so that we can keep a check on their behaviour and  guide them.
Q.Is it right to pressure a child for board exam or even before that by parents and the school?

Parents and teachers should not pressurise the student at the time of exams. The student should be prepared much before the exams so that they do not meet with such challenges.

There is a Bollywood movie titled ‘Chal Chale’ based on the life of a student which I think every parent should watch. It shows a different kind of parenting method like when a child is given freedom to choose his career, it flourishes; and on the other hand, when a child is pressured to choose the career that his parents want him to do, the child loses his ability to establish himself and his future becomes darker. So there are many other examples in the movie which will help students learn better.

Q. Many students are scared of failure to do well in studies which cause anxiety among them and cause negative effects on their performance. What do you say?

The preparation should be done timely by the students to avoid unwanted circumstances, otherwise it is obvious that a child will live with negative effects. One should remember that failure is not the end of life but the key to success. A child should learn from his mistake done in the past and he should introspect and improve himself.

Failure is something that gives an idea to get success, one should be more determined to be sincere and work harder because everything comes to you in the right moment, be patient and focus on achieving the goal and never let your fear decide your future.

Nobody is perfect, everybody makes mistakes. So, root out all the reason why it did not work and believe in that one reason why it will work, and have a wider vision.

Message to the reader

Students should take failure as the second golden chance to do better and they should not only prepare themselves for exams only but to fight other challenges in life too. One should be sincere and aim for a disciplined life. Sometimes people with the worst past end up creating a great future.