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Muenselling Bids farewell to 2014 and welcomes 2015

As Muenselling bids farewell to 2014 and welcomes 2015, perhaps, it is time to look back and unfold the pictures of the year 2014.

On Monday, 10th of February, 2014, the school started as usual with teachers and staff talking about their vacation, number of workshop they attended etc. We welcomed the new academy year distributing jobs and responsibilities, subjects, classes, framing timetable, reshuffling of children into different houses etc.

Then announced the result of the Class XII and X. Of the 3 candidates in Class XII, 2 qualified for Sherubtse, while 1 entered ILC, (Institute for Language and Culture) being the first candidate from our institute to admit to the college. Of the three candidates in Class X, all were qualified for class XI.

On Sunday, 23rd February, 2014, MI celebrated 41st foundation day. The Principals, assistant SENCOs, visually impaired students of two neighboring mainstreams schools of Khaling, were invited for the day. Two students studying in Sherubtse College also participated on the occasion.

On Sunday, 2nd of March, 2014, Muenselling Institute joins the rest of the nation welcoming “Wood Male Horse” year. Students were provided grand feast of varieties of dishes and meat. They also organized various programmes celebrating and welcoming the New Year.

Friday, 7th of March opened a new chapter in the history of the institute. The institute welcomed the new principal, Mr. Dorji Wangdrup. 6 teachers with the principal went for about five kilometres to receive the principal.

On Monday, 10th of March, 2014, MI welcomed the new principal of the institute, Mr. Dorji Wangdrup. The outgoing principal, Mr. Tshongpen Wangdi, introduced to the gathering of the students and teachers for the morning assembly. On Wednesday, 2nd of April, Mr. Dorji Wangdrup replaced as the fifth principal of the institute. Mr. Tshongpen Wangdi served as the principal of the institute from December, 2002 till March, 2014.

On 23rd of April, 2014, Muenselling Institute celebrated His Royal Highness, Prince Namgyal Wangchuck’s 71st birthday, the royal pattern of the institute. In the evening after the school hours, the students, teachers and other staff members gathered in the hall to celebrate the great occasion. The programme began with the speech on the importance of the day followed by the prayer and offer of butter lams for His royal Highness long life.

workshop for the teachers of Muenselling Institute on the theme: training workshop on "Teaching Students with 'Visually Impaired and Associated Disabilities" was conducted in Muenselling Institute from 13th to 17th of April resourced by a consultant Ms. JANE HIDER, from UK with the objective To provide the teacher with the knowledge, understanding and practical abilities to enable the teachers to undertake the education of children with a visual impairment, and the ability to transfer these skills to other workers.

MI was blessed with the training of two teachers on Nemeth Braille. While many teachers and staff of the institute had obtained basic skills, no teacher had obtained advance training. MI wishes to thank the concern agencies and particularly CFBT Thailand for the support rendered in training the teachers.

Five days in-service training programme on “Material preparation, preparation of adaptive instructional material and assessment procedures for the children with visually impairment” in collaboration with UNICEF Bhutan from 1st to 5th of October, 2014 at the Muenselling Institute, Khaling was conducted. The training was organized by the department of curriculum and research development (DCRD) funded by the UNICEF Bhutan.

Two days workshop on Orientation and Mobility for the blind and low vision was conducted in Khaling Lower Secondary School from 4th to 5th of October funded by Bhutan Foundation so as to enable the teachers to provide skills in supporting the visually impaired integrated children.

In addition, the teachers attended various workshops on Special education held in Mongar and Thimphu, inclusive education held in Bumthang, GNH workshop held in Wamrong and Disaster risk management in Punakha.

This year alone, five surveys were conducted with the aims and objectives to improve the lives of the persons with disabilities. The series of survey began by the DCRD followed by YDF, RENEW and by the institute. As the ministry of education surveyed throughout the nation, MI was fortunate to be a part of the survey on education Blueprint.

On Monday, 5th of May, 2014, Muenselling institute participated Global Action Week in Support of the global campaign, Equal Right and Equal Opportunity on the theme education and disability.

Dasho Dungpa of Wamrong Dungkhag was the chief guest of the programme. Mr. Thukten, the coordinator of the programme welcomed for the programme. Mr. Thukten thanked UNESCO for providing the fund for the celebration. Vice Principal of Wamrong Lower Secondary School, Ms. Tshering Sydon shared the importance of the day, aims and objective of the celebration. She also highlighted the need of marking the global event on Education and Disability on May 5, 2014. The chief guest of the programme, Dasho Dungpa of Wamrong Dungkhag highlighted the importance, the need of such awareness and advocacy programme. He also shared of the support provided by the Royal Government of Bhutan pertaining to equal rights and equal opportunities for the persons with disabilities. This was followed by cultural items from Wamrong Lower Secondary School and Muenselling Institute.

On Saturday, 12th of July, 2014, corresponding to the 15th day of the fifth month of male horse year, twenty-two students and eight staff members of Muenselling institute visited Chorten Kora. There were twelve girls and ten boys who remained in the institute and unable to go home for the mid-term break. Mr. Dorji Wangdrup, the principal, vice principal, few teachers and other supporting staff members accompanied the students.

They visited the chorten, Lhakhang, offered butter lamps and prayed. The group had lunch and returned at around3 in the afternoon. On their way back visited Gomokora, a sacred place of Eastern Bhutan.

The long awaited construction of the new academic commenced by the month of August. However, the path leading to the old academic became so difficult for the children. The old hostel and kitchen buildings built about five decades back were demolished to give space to the new structure. However, with this came a new challenge for the students with visual Impairment. The old path from the hostels to the academic and administrative blocks was filled with the soil and rocks from the excavation. With the onset of the rainy season, students had to walk in the mud which is further made worse by the frequent movement of the trucks to drop the construction materials. Therefore, the administration, having left with no other alternatives decided to find a solution to ease the problem by connecting the hostels with the academic block bypassing the construction site. The teachers, support staff and the students toiled in the scorching sun for almost three days clearing weeds and boulders, filling with gravels and sand, constructing a new path, the path with almost one meter wide and approximately 110 m in length was completed with a wooden bridge over the stream that flows through the campus. The construction began on Thursday, 24th of July and was completed by Saturday, 26th of July, 2014.

In 2014 alone, the principal, teacher’s staff and students constructed three foot path and a small bridge, making the lives of the visually impaired children more accessible, comfortable and better.

For the first time in the history of the institute, documentation of the policy for the institute commenced. One full day meeting was conducted and reviewed in December. The policy is still in a draft form and is scheduled to discuss further in the year 2015.

We also had quite a number of visitors worth mentioning in the note of reflection. Besides the regular visit of tourists, some of the visitors worth mentioning are On Thursday, 3rd of April, 2014, MI receives officials from Bhutan Foundation and SEN division, ministry of education, Thimphu Bhutan.

On Friday, 25th of April, 2014, the Bhutan dragon Motor bikers visited the institute. They met the children, talked and spend about 15 minutes. Students were provided sweets and a sum of eleven thousand and five hundred Ngultrums were donated to the school asking to take children for picnic.

On Tuesday, 2nd of September, 2014, Muenselling institute received a group of tourists. They arrived to the institute at around 9 in the morning and spent about half an hour providing about thirty thousand Ngultrums for the students.

On Wednesday, 30th of July, 2014, a group of tourists visited the institute at around 12 and spent about two hours in the institute. They were 12 Vietnamese, settled in Australia. The group hosted lunch for all the students, teachers and other staff members worth fourteen thousand three hundred and eighty Ngultrums. Teachers, staff members and Students were provided toiletries and towels. All the students received about four hundred Ngultrums each as pocket money. In addition, twenty thousand Ngultrums, five hundred and fifty Australian Dollars was donated to the institute as charity.

On Sunday, 28th of September, 2014, Social Service Unit “SSU” of Sherubtse College visited the institute on their way back from Riserbhu. 17 members led by a lecturer visited the institute at around 5:30 PM. The institute hosted tea to the group.

On 8th of October, 2014, NC Chairperson, Dasho Dr. Sonam Kuenga visited Muenselling Institute. The principal and the staff members received him and accompanied to the MP Hall at around 4 in the evening. His Excellency sat with the children on the floor, told stories and talked with the children. The children shared the difficulties and challenges faced in the institute. His Excellency also provided five thousand Ngultrums to the children. He told students to study hard and be good boys and girls. He also advised students to respect parents and teachers, learn to be grateful and thank our king and god. After spending about 2 hours, His Excellency and the team left the institute at around six in the evening.

On Sunday, 12th of October, 2014, few parliament members visited Muenselling Institute. They were accompanied by the chief DEO and other officials. A separate meeting was held with the students and teachers. The principal, few teachers and the students of Class VIII, of lower secondary school participated the meeting. The meeting lasted till 12 and later went to visit the newly constructed BHU. On their return had lunch in the institute and headed for Pema Gatshel.

On Friday, 24th of October, 2014, popularly known as Suresh Hotel of Wamrong sponsored lunch to 64 members of the Muenselling family. Besides regular food item of rice and emadatshi, meat curry was also provided. In addition, the students were provided juice and fifty Ngultrums per child. “Providing meals to the children with disability is very common in Thailand but not in Bhutan,” commented a teacher. “This is his second time providing meals to the children,” commented another staff member of the institute. In addition, there were few other donors. A set of uniform to all the children were provided by the Lions club. MI was blessed with the support of 10 single license of Duxbury for the institute through the support of lions club. Abacus and white cane from Bhutan foundation. Shoes to the students were provided by a generous well-wisher of the institute, who previously worked in Bhutan as a health worker from Norway we thank Ms. Liv Erstad for the generous support.

Like any other schools of the kingdom, MI as per the institute’s academic calendar organized inter-house games and sports competitions such as balance race, Soksom, Khuru, goalball and other activities. Annual sports day is an event worth witnessing. Literary activities such as essay writing, extempore speech, general quiz competitions and one week reading programme with the completion on reading conducted usually on the literacy day, 8th of September is worth noting.

Amidst of all these activities, MI ensures children’s well-being. Two Rimdros-once in the beginning and another at the end of the year was conducted. Guru Rinpochoes birth anniversary, Zhubdrung Kuchoe, Lord Buddha’s Parninirvana, Descending of Lord Buddha and other important religious events were equally if not more vigorously marked by the institute. On such occasions, one can witness principals, teachers, and other staff members and students whole-heartedly praying, offering lamps.

On Sunday, 19th of October, 2014, MI organized annual picnic. MI took for picnic to Gapcha, below drewung, about eight kilometers from Khaling. The advance team left one day ahead and the rest walked to the picnic spot at around 7:00 in the morning. The breakfast was served at around 9:00. MI believes that although the students may be deprived of seeing, yet, taking to a new place is a refreshing for them. While the low vision students would be helping the teachers and staff, the rest would either be walking along the farm road, climbing down to the stream taking bath, sitting by the river side listening to the sound of the water flowing, birds singing in the trees, talking or playing games.

While in other schools where most of the works would be done by the students, MI teachers and staff are fully involved in all the works. Teachers and staff take the full responsibility of shopping, preparing the picnic spot, preparing fire, cutting vegetables, the whole process of cooking of various items and even serving to the children. It is ensured that all the guests are served followed by the students. The last to eat in the group are the teachers and staff members. Unlike many schools, students and staff enjoy the same dishes. They also ensure that everything is brought back and no student is left behind.

Khaling Tshechu is yet another time children keep on counting the days. The three-day annual Tshechu of Khaling was performed from Saturday, 1st to Monday, 3rd of November, 2014 corresponding to 9th to 11th day of the nine month of Bhutanese calendar. Unlike other schools and institutions, the students are provided pocket money of 100 Ngultrums per child per day thereby, in total; a child receives three hundred Ngultrums in three days. The people of Khaling and from nearby villages witnessed the Tshechu. The three day Tshechu was performed presided by the Geonday Uzin Lam Pema along with other Gomchen of the Geonday. MI actively participated the occasion. Students of JSHHS, KLSS and MI performed songs and dances during the three day festival. The students of MI were escorted to and fro by teachers and supporting staff to avoid any mishap or accidents on the way. They were served lunch and refreshment by organizers.

MI joined the rest of the nation commemorating the 60th birth anniversary of the fourth king. Recitation of Thsezung started about two months back to mark the 60th birth anniversary of our fourth Druk Gyelpo. The staff and students began reciting Tshezung with the initiation received from Lam Pema of Khaling Goenday. After two months of recitation we recited 38 lakhs of Tshezung DUepa. To close the recitation we had an opportunity to invite H.E Zuri Trulku on 8th November, 2014 along with eight gelongs from the dratshang. A simple lunch was served by the staff members in the Principal’s quarter.

The staff and students of MI celebrated the 60th Birth anniversary of the fourth Druk Gyelpo, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk at Karma Theksum Dechoeling Monastery at Khaling Barshong.

Five schools viz. Jigme Sherubling HSS, Khaling LSS, MI, Barshong CPS and Jeri Lemi CPS joined the monks of the monastery to celebrate the occasion presided over by H.E Zuri Trulku Rimpochhe.

The day began with the unfurling of the Dorji Chang Thongdrel for the public. Later, H.E was escorted to the main courtyard of Lhakhang where his Eminence unfurled the National flag followed by Marchang ceremony.

About a thousand people gathered to mark the day. A variety of cultural items were performed by the five schools, the geog dancers and trainees of National Handloom development, Khaling. The goeg mask dancers performed Drametse Ngacham.

Refreshments and lunch was provided by the dratshang for the participants and the public.

Commemoration of International White Cane Day on the 15th of October is an annual feature. On Wednesday, 15th of October, 2014, Muenselling Institute joined the rest of the international communities of the visually impaired observing International White Cane Safety Day. On reaching the spot in Rongthung, 94 more participants from all the schools of Kanglung region including Sherubtse college of RUB, officials from Regional Veterinary Hospital, Basic Health Unit, Gewog, Police Branch office Kanglung and Trashigang RSTA, in total about 200 participants joined the celebration. After having one and half hour programme, the chief guest inaugurated the walk from Rongthung to Kanglung primary school, a distance of about seven kilometres. The walk was mainly to create awareness about the white Cane Safety Day to all the important stakeholders, teachers, students, shopkeepers and the public of the region.

Two hundred participants walked in the hot blazing sun, yet so joyous, singing the white cane song. The walk began at around 10:30 A.M and arrived Kanglung Primary School at around 1 P.M.

International Day for the People with Disabilities, on 3rd December is one of the most important days in the annual academic calendar. As usual, the parents were invited. The celebration was on the theme “Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology”

As usual, the celebration commenced of talk on the importance of the day, awarding certificates, teacher parents meeting and the showcase of the year’s activities through video clippings.

As the institute flourished with lots of progresses, yet there were dark days, the days when students and staff wept. The year was marked with the farewell of the previous principal, Mr. Tshongpen Wangdi on Tuesday, 26th of May, 2014.

On Friday, 25th of July, 2014, Ap Ngopola commonly known as Apala from Tomoyangtsi of Trashiyangtsi Dzongkhag expired. He was 71 at the time of his death. He served as a cook of the institute for 15 years from 1980 till 1995.

Lt. Apala was a hardworking man. In addition to cooking, he was so concerned of children’s cleanliness and often supported them. He believed in cleanliness, health and hygienic aspect in the kitchen. He was very punctual and ensured that children are fed on time.

The only non-national teacher working in the Muenselling Institute Mr. YVL Narayana, of Andra Pradesh, India, passed away at around 2:20 PM on Saturday, 6th of December in the newly constructed BHU of Khaling. The exact cause of his death is a mystery. He seems to have eaten an apple on Friday and had a choke. However, he was in the school on Saturday, attended duty, had tea and seemed to have left for BHU at around 10:30. The death certificate revealed that he was admitted to BHU by 11:20. He was referred to Trashigang Hospital and an ambulance was on the way. The death certificate stated that he had respiration problem. His last journey from Khaling to Samdrup Jongkhar was on Sunday, 7th of December, 2014. Thirteen staff members of Muenselling Institute few teachers of Jigme Sherubling Higher Secondary school, few from Tashitse Higher Secondary school and some teachers of Dungsam academy in total about 19 members accompanied him. Completing the formalities, the body was handed over to his two surviving daughters and his brother at the indo-Bhutan check post at around 6 in the evening. Born in 1957, at the age of 57 passed away leaving behind his old parents, his wife, two daughters and brother. He worked in the institute for 15 years, 5 months and 10 days. He was very sincere with his duty, good in looking after the welfare of the children. He was well versed in general knowledge and challenged the students, thereby creating an avenue for the children to learn and explore further.

On Tuesday, 16th of December, 2014, Muenselling Institute bids farewell to the two renowned teachers of the institute. Ms. K.D. Gurung worked in the institute from 1990 till date and Mr. Shriman Gurung, vice principal of the institute worked from 1991 till date.

A lunch was hosted by the Muenselling family. All the families of the staff members joined the occasion.

The laughter in the beginning of the programme gradually ceased and replaced with the sounds of sobbing in the room. Some blowing nose, while others wiping off tears.

On Wednesday, 24th of December, 2014, MI family went to see off the two great teachers of the institute. About 25 persons went in the institute bus for about fifteen kilometres to a place called Thrizor. The family members had tea and snacks and laughed together for a while. As the time came for departure, the ground was filled with tears, sobbing as they hugged and kissed good bye. The family members gazed as they went into the car with tears and proceeded.

While many assume that we have marched a long way off, for those of us, who have been here for a long time, feels that we are still far behind. While we lack a specialized Mathematics teacher, no teacher has any certificate of teaching Braille, or in special education. The strategies followed in the institute are on trial and error. Integrated education that began in 1979, six years after the establishment, still seems very new system. As if of the very first day, the mainstream schools entirely depend on MI. After 35 years of integration, by this time, there should have been strong supportive mechanism in respective school. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

The decrease of annual enrollment of the institute is a great concern. Many assume that with the improvement of health of the general public as a whole, the population control might have the impact. Yet, many also believe that there are visually impaired children in the pockets of the nation, who are unable to afford financially or support for coming to school.

As we look ahead for the new academic year, I feel we must give a thought how can these issues be addressed.

Thanking for your kind attention.
Web master.