Rebuilding Schools in Eastern Bhutan

Video | 13 June 2017

After a deadly earthquake in eastern Bhutan in 2009, the government was determined to build back better. In partnership with the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and the Asian Development Bank, four badly damaged schools were rebuilt and now provide earthquake resilient classrooms and hostels for more than 700 children.


Thangrong Community Primary School
Mongar, Eastern Bhutan

A devastating earthquake in 2009 destroyed several schools in the district.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and ADB helped rebuild them with a $3 million grant.

It took 3 years to rehabilitate the damaged schools.

Tashi Wangchu, Primary School Teacher
“When I was a student, I had a teacher who inspired me and I liked the way he taught us.
“He used to always tell us: “This is a place where you can share your ideas and you can pass your knowledge from person to person.”
“On 21 September 2009, it was like any other day, I should say.
“After the lunch break, we sent our students home, but all of a sudden, I heard, like a windstorm blowing.
“Within no time, the ground started shaking. I was unable to balance on the ground.
“After almost a minute, then it stopped shaking and I could see some of our structures falling.
“After the earthquake, most of our classrooms could not be used. We were forced to use tents.
“The situation in the tents was so horrible. Even we, the teachers, could not resist the heat.
“We now have new facilities in our school.
“Our students, from a primary level, they get the opportunity to enjoy such facilities.
“Even if the earthquake comes, I don’t think this building will have a crack on the wall, because it’s made of concrete and if the earthquake happens to occur, we are not in fear.
“I always tell them, it is not necessary that after studying, you have to be employed in the government service.
“Once you get your education, now that you have learned, you can always apply your knowledge, and make your life.
“You should have the habit that, “I will not depend on the government. I will stand on my own feet by working myself.”

The Thangrong Community Primary School is one of four rebuilt under the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant.

After three years learning in tents, nearly 700 students now learn and live in modern and safe school facilities.