An independent review carried out by the school planning and coordination division for central and autonomous schools says that central and autonomous schools have instilled significant good practices compared to non central schools.
“The story from central schools says that there is an improvement in academic achievement,” said education minister Norbu Wangchuk. “It has substantially helped those students who walk a long distance to school and in terms of diet. In terms of immersion into cultural and sports activities it is showing great benefit.”
The Central School Coordinator, Kaka, said the system was established to create professional learning communities and promote a strong sense of belongingness and self-discipline with good grounding of Bhutanese culture and values systems. “Through the independent review the ministry now has the baseline information on how schools are performing,” he said.
The study found that these schools have a strategy in place to strengthen pedagogy, monitoring and support programmes with specialised learning programs.
With a successful pilot phase in 2015 the central school system has been extended all across the country. The system was established with the core intention of providing wholesome quality of education at an integrated and centrally located autonomous body.
Kaka said with completion of infrastructure and appropriate support mechanisms including human resources deployment it is expected that the schools will be the finest places of quality learning.
“As of 2017, we have declared 60 Central Schools,” Kaka said. “We will have at least 3 additional Central Schools in 2018. By the end of the 12th Five Year Plan, there will be 120 Central Schools established.”
Central Schools are empowered to set their own strategic directions, determine priorities and exercise control over their resources Kaka said. He said that the schools are expected to improve the quality of educational practices and student learning outcomes through empowerment, greater autonomy and flexibility, thus enhancing delivery of services by reducing bureaucracy.
The tripartite Delivery Performance Agreement signed between the School, Dzongkhag and Ministry mandates an Independent Review to be conducted at the end of 5 years of the school’s autonomy.
“The findings from this review at the end of the 5 year term should inform us their progress and achievements,” Kaka said adding that the ministry shall soon review the BCSE and BHSEC results too. “The performance of schools has been encouraging. The schools now have high sense of belongingness. The school culture is getting firmed up. Parents have started to believe in Central Schools. Admissions to Central Schools are increasing with the tendency of the native inhabitants going back to their birthplaces”.
However the challenges remain in providing full fledged school infrastructure and provision of adequate and appropriate human resources such as the nurses, accountants and care giver. “It is a challenge since there is a need for inter-agency approvals and collaborations,” Kaka said. The provision of adequate staff quarter is also seen as a challenge. “As per the Central School requirements, staff quarters will be required to enable teachers to provide all round supervision and monitoring of students for quality learning and growth,” he said.