Annual Sherig Conference comes up with multiple resolutions to strengthen education sector

The Ministry of Education (MoE) plans to have at least one school with special educational needs (SEN) programme in each dzongkhag and thromde by the end of the 12th five year plan. This was one of the resolutions of the annual education conference held in Zhemgang.

Education minister Norbu Wangchuk said the plan is a big leap forward in the education system since 30% of children are born with various disabilities and is a serious concern for the country. “If we don’t have a proper school for these students, the risk is that 30% of our children will be excluded from the education system,” he said. “In doing so, the education system must adapt to the need of the child because every child is precious. Today, every child is much more precious than several years ago because of the declining birthrate and in this context it’s so important that we educate each and everyone.”

With effect from the 2018 academic session, the ministry revised the school opening date for classes PP-III to 10 days after the start of the academic year.

The education ministry also plans to provide one laptop a  teacher in the 12th plan. Thimphu’s Chief Dzongkhag Education Officer, Tashi Namgyal, said the idea one laptop a  teacher is to enhance the teaching learning process with efficient delivery of service. He said the ministry would invest heavily on highspeed Internet connectivity for every school by the end of 12th five-year plan.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said the facility will enable teachers to store teaching resources and do the daily assessment systematically. “The facility is not to make the teachers happy, but to make them work even harder and embrace ICT utilization to 100% which will ultimately impact on the quality of education,” he said.

With regard to curriculum, the conference endorsed the idea of proposing differentiated curriculum by the Royal Education Council (REC) and that the REC present a detailed proposal in the next conference. The education secretary, Karma Yeshey, said the differentiated curriculum is particularly for the grade IX and X where the ministry is planning to have different curriculum for those students who are not interested to take a particular subject.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the education system must respond to the differences since every child is different with different aptitude.

Recognizing the importance of early childhood education for the holistic development of the young children, the education secretary said the ministry aims to increase access to ECCD programmes to at least 50 percent for 3-5 year old children with one ECCD centre in every Chiwog by 2030.

The ministry also made a resolution to provide adequate number of staff quarters to at least 80% of the teachers within the school campus. “As a transition towards this target, provision of staff quarters will be based on percentage of boarding students in the school,” Karma Yeshey said.

To enhance the career progression of principals the conference recommended the ministry take up the matter of automatic promotion to P1 based on competency and performance.

In the 12th five year plan, teachers will be provided 80 hours of professional development annually with the ministry facilitating 40 hours and the remaining 40 hours by the respective dzongkhags and thromdes. “In view of the general need for improvement in student’s wellbeing and support, the 2018 professional development programme for all teachers will be on basic councelling,” the education secretary said.

To gauge learning standard of students, the conference also recommended reviving the National Education Assessment for classes III, VI and X periodically.

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