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Thursday, February 4, 2010

School Assembly

Every school day in Bhutan starts with assembly. Classes line up, male and females separately. The class captains stand up the front, trying to maintain some kind of order. The school captains at the back. If the vice-principal is around, things go very quickly. He was not around during the picture above. Teachers float in at various times during the assembly, and line up in front.
Our school did not have a hall, so the basketball court was the assembly ground. Students fell like flies on hot days. Dominoes.
One of the school captains would call the school to assembly, then the prayer would start. The prayer captain would set the pace with a small bell. What a nice way to start the day.
On completion of the prayer, there are two speeches by students. The first in Dzongkha, and the second in English. Speeches are memorised. All students are required to give a speech. A traumatising experience for some.
"Respected Madam Principal, Vice Principal, teachers, and my dear fellow students ... today I would like to deliver a short speech on ..... on...."
A small scrap of paper is hurriedly pulled from inside the gho (male dress) before we learn the topic. Bhutanese men lay claim to having the largest pocket in the world.
Next a teacher, TOD (Teacher On Duty), would speak. Sometimes a more senior teacher or the principal would have to harangue the students. The first domino would fall then.
Then the head scout would unfurl the national flag and the national song was sung.
While the students marched off, a class at a time, there was often a check of hair length and other uniform matters.
You notice that some of the staff are wearing Western style clothes. The Bhutanese nationals have to wear traditional dress. The Indian teachers, and me, wore non-Bhutanese dress. The young guy, nearest to the camera, is a gelong (monk). I might tell you more about him later.

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