Chil­dren in Perth learn Dzongkha

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Dechen Dolkar from Thim­phu

Much to the re­lief of Bhutanese par­ents, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutanese in Perth In­cor­po­rated (ABPI) has ini­ti­ated a pi­lot project to teach Dzongkha lan­guage to Bhutanese chil­dren liv­ing in Perth, Aus­tralia.

The pi­lot project was started on Novem­ber 17, 2018 by ABPI. The lat­ter was es­tab­lished to cre­ate a vi­brant Bhutanese com­mu­nity to make them feel at home, in­clud­ing tak­ing care of their well­be­ing, and pro­mot­ing Bhutanese cul­ture, iden­tity and val­ues.

The Pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion, Pema Choe­jey (PhD) said the ini­ti­ate was to en­sure that chil­dren, who ac­com­pa­nied their par­ents and those who were born in Aus­tralia, re­ceived the op­por­tu­nity and plat­form to learn the na­tional lan­guage, cul­ture and val­ues.

Mean­while, Aus­tralia has be­come a fa­vored des­ti­na­tion for stud­ies, em­ploy­ment and skilled mi­gra­tions and the num­ber of Bhutanese in west­ern Aus­tralia is in­creas­ing ev­ery year. Many chil­dren ac­com­pany their par­ents, and some are born there in Aus­tralia. Since the num­ber of chil­dren liv­ing in Perth is grow­ing ev­ery year, par­ents are also wor­ried that their chil­dren are lack­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn the ba­sic na­tional lan­guage while in Perth.

How­ever, with this new ini­tia­tive, classes will be or­ga­nized ev­ery Sat­ur­day and Sun­day with a min­i­mum of three ses­sions per day. Chil­dren are cat­e­go­rized into dif­fer­ent groups based on the level of Dzongkha pro­fi­ciency, such as those who can speak and write a lit­tle bit of Dzongkha, and those who al­ready have high level knowl­edge of Dzongkha lan­guage.

The ini­tia­tive, led by the ABPI in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Drukpa Perth Cen­tre, par­ents, lead­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of par­ents’ group and the teacher, is also try­ing to get the sup­port of lo­cal schools in re­spec­tive suburbs and other NGO’s deal­ing with the multi-cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties.

Cur­rently, classes are be­ing con­ducted at the Drukpa Perth Cen­tre.

How­ever, Pres­i­dent Pema Choe­jey said this is only a tem­po­rary mea­sure un­til they find a proper class­room suitable and con­ducive for teach­ing and learn­ing.

ABPI is also ex­plor­ing other ap­pro­pri­ate class­rooms and venues by seek­ing sup­port from the lo­cal schools in re­spec­tive suburbs and other com­mu­ni­ties in dif­fer­ent city coun­cils, where Bhutanese com­mu­ni­ties mostly re­side.

While ABPI be­lieves that the gov­ern­ment has the di­rect re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter the wel­fare and well­be­ing of ev­ery Bhutanese, the re­spon­si­bil­ity of find­ing a Dzongkha teacher also falls on all of them – the gov­ern­ment, ABPI and par­ents.

The Pres­i­dent said it may not be right to re­quest the gov­ern­ment to send a Dzongkha teacher to ev­ery coun­try to teach the lan­guage as short­age of teach­ers in the coun­try is also a chal­lenge.

Although there are many par­ents who have been teach­ers, no one is will­ing to vol­un­teer to teach chil­dren in Perth. They in­stead seem to be earn­ing bet­ter do­ing other works. The Dzongkha Learn­ing Com­mit­tee (DLC) led by ABPI has, there­fore, de­cided to pay USD 50 per ses­sion to the teacher and make the pay­ment fort­nightly to mo­ti­vate the teacher and en­sure the con­ti­nu­ity of his ser­vice.

Cur­rently, Lopen Kin­ley Dorji, a former monk, has vol­un­teered to teach the Dzongkha lan­guage.

Their big­gest worry is sus­tain­ing this ini­tia­tive, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­nizer. There is the pos­si­bil­ity of teacher dis­con­tin­u­ing the job or par­ents with­draw­ing their chil­dren. If ei­ther of these sce­nar­ios hap­pens, the project will be­come a fail­ure. One of the pos­si­ble reme­dies is to re­mu­ner­ate the teacher hand­somely for the time in­vested for teach­ing. The other rem­edy is to seek sup­port from the gov­ern­ment to pro­vide us with a Dzongkha teacher.

So far 120 chil­dren have en­rolled for the ses­sion and the num­ber is likely to in­crease as they plan to ex­pand classes to other suburbs.

There are around 5,000 Bhutanese presently re­sid­ing in Perth.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.