Considering that education is one of the most important tools for nation building 18% of this year’s budget has been allocated for education the Prime Minister said.
While 100 percent net enrolment has been achieved, the establishment of additional central schools and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centre are the two hallmarks in pursuit of accessibility and inclusiveness.
This year the government has set aside Nu 108 m to train teachers and starting the next month, 30 teachers will be given an opportunity to pursue a Master’s program at the Yongphula Centenary Institute of Education. “Today, only 1,130 teachers, which are 14% of the total teachers, have a master’s degree. The government has decided that every teacher must have a minimum of master’s degree,” the Prime Minister said. “And in 12th Five Year Plan (FYP), upgrading qualifications of teachers will be given priority.”
Further, the education ministry this year plans to upgrade degree of teachers, which will involve all the colleges in the country, especially the education colleges in Paro and Samtse.
Recognizing the importance of participating in international benchmarking systems to check the state of education in a country against the international standards, the MoE endorsed and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for PISA participation earlier this year where the ministry has developed a strategic framework for PISA-D project with the aims and objectives to set a baseline profile of the knowledge, skilled and competencies of the students, collect evidence about the readiness of the Bhutanese education system for entry into main PISA in 2021 and ensure adequate preparation for participation in the international benchmarking system.
This year, all 15 year-old students will partake in PISA D examinations in English, Mathematics and Science where the preparations have been rolled out in the dzongkhags.
In addition, this year the government is planning to establish 45 new ECCD centres in remote areas aiming to enroll at least 50% children aged 3 to 5 years by 2024 and to establish one ECCD centre in every Chiwog. “It is wrong to think that the learning begins only after enrollment in school,” said the Prime Minister.
Currently there are total of 231 government ECCD centre across the country with 7409 students.
Two new Special Education Needs (SEN) Schools were established this year in Tashiyangtse and Dagana with 611 students. To meet the needs of special students the ministry has initiated training of sign language research team at Wangsel Institute. The activities include capacity building for teachers, procurement of adaptive furniture, teaching-learning materials and assistive device for children with special needs.
Central schools being the greatest achievement of the education ministry last year the government plans to open three more central school this year. There are total of 60 central schools across the country with the establishment of nine new central schools this year. “As a goal to establish 120 such schools, the government will need to construct only 57 more schools in 12th FYP,” the PM said.
The cost to educate a child in central schools is estimated to be around Nu 49,000 a year which includes teachers’ salaries, operating costs, food, clothes and bedding, excluding the new constructions.
The School Sports Scholarship Scheme (SSSS) has been established this year aimed at motivating participation in school sports and also to help students to pursue academics and excel in sports concurrently. The construction of Multi sports hall at Jungshina, Thimphu, which is funded by Korea Sports Promotion Organization (KSPO) is expected to be completed in March 2018. The total funding of the project is USD 600,000.
Similarly, the project to construct football fields is underway in Bumtang, Kanglung and Samdrup Jongkhar and a table tennis center in Thimphu this year.