At the NA’s question hour session yesterday, education minister Norbu Wangchuk defended the government’s central school policy, which a opposition MP described as a failure that was affecting students’ wellbeing and education quality.
Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said the re-introduction of central schools was done in a hasty and haphazard manner without a clear policy and plan.
“Owing to this, even after three years of its start, schools are facing numerous problems and challenges such as cramped hostels, poor library, lab and IT facilities, lack of or inadequate dining and multi-purpose hall, dire shortage of drinking water, highly over-burdened teachers and many more problems,” he said. “Most of the problems we see and hear in the media are about the central schools and even the so called three eggs a week program is a farce.”
Exhibiting shock on the statements by the opposition MP, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the main problems are with the non-central schools, which is why the government reintroduced the central school policy.
“I’m really shocked where those complaints and reports are coming from because the main problem stated by the opposition are in the non-central schools which has been existing for decades,” the minister said adding that the statements by the opposition could have a negative effect on parents and teachers. “Such exaggerated and twisted stories will agonize and astound our teachers who are giving their best and parents of those 50,000 students in central schools.”
Lyonpo said that he personally visited 300 schools in the past year of which 50 were central schools to verify the status of central schools. “Some minor challenges are there as a start-up, but in general, I saw everything going fine and there isn’t any disorder in the quality of education being provided in the central schools,” he said.
He said an order has been circulated to dzongdas to visit all central schools in their respective dzongkhags at least twice a month and submit a monthly report. “I’ve been interacting with the dzongdas frequently and we receive a report every month so the information provided by the opposition is totally contradictory,” the minister said.
The minister further pointed out that the government had to re-introduce the central schools policy in haste to solve the problems in the non-central schools. “If the central schools are not established, despite many challenges, in haste, the students are going to be deprived of quality education and facilities they are availing right now,” Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said.
As for the ‘three eggs per student’ a week policy, he said the plan will be soon be practiced in all central schools where the nutrition program with be further enhanced by providing fortified rice in every school. “We are soon going to start with the distribution of micro-nutrients in every central school imported from Bangladesh,” the minister said.
On the teacher workload said the job of teacher by nature is challenging having to handle many students from morning till evening but workload has been reduced with the recruitment of 202 wardens and matrons and the introduction of one teacher, one subject policy and allocating administration staff in every school.