The literacy rate has increased to 71.4 percent currently which among the youth stands at 93 percent.
“This is a major achievement as unlike other nations we did not have centuries of mass modern education other than the monastic order” Lyonchhen said in his state of the nation report. “For the first time in our history we can now look forward to achieving universal literacy among youth, the future of our nation.”
The 11th plan of the government on education sector was focused on three main areas- namely school reforms, curriculum review and professional development.
The establishment of 63 central schools was one of the major school reforms in the last five years resulting in benefitting the children of poor parents by providing adequate clothing and nutritious food and improved quality of education. “These central schools help build the capabilities of our children and are worth the investments in the long-term,” said Lyonchhen.
While more central schools are to be established, the Prime minister clarified that the government does not have any policy to close any small school. “We have taken a decision that as long as schools have students, they will remain open.”
With the increased in numbers of boarding students from 33,000 in 2013 to 41,000 in 2018 and the number of students receiving day feeding increased from 20,000 to 33,000, the access to healthy and nutritious food for the students has also been ensured.
Another major school reform was the establishment of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) for kindergarten care. “These are the formative years of our children and we must provide them the best available and possible care during their most vulnerable years.”
There are currently 282 governments Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centers providing care and education to children from 3 to 5 years of age. In the 11th Plan the government established 200 ECCD centers.
The curriculum review has been completed by the Ministry of Education involving teachers, educationists, Dzongkhag Education Officers (DEOs), experts, students and parents to ensure relevance and quality of education. The curriculum of all subjects has been improved for classes PP to 12.
“I am proud to report that we now have a concrete roadmap for curriculum improvement” the PM stated adding that such timely reviews and improvements are important and necessary to equip the students with the most relevant curricula in a rapidly changing world.
In 2016 and 2017 of the current Plan, all teachers including those in private schools were provided professional development at a total cost of Nu. 215 million. “Through such programs, the Royal Government assures that teachers irrespective of whether teaching in private or public schools will be provided equal access to professional development” the report stated.
With 9,600 teachers who are teaching 167,000 students across the country, making the ratio of 1:18, the report outlined that this is a good ratio by any standard in the world.
“While our teachers are putting their best efforts we must support a continuous training program for our teachers to bring them to speed with developments around the world in teaching methodology and curriculum development,” said Lyonchhen.
Apart from the three-fold focus in the education sector, five colleges were also introduced in the 11th plan namely, Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law in Paro, Gyelposhing College of Information Technology, Yonphula College of Teacher Education, Trashiyangtse College of Zorig Chusum and Norbu Rigter Private college in Paro. There are currently 18 colleges in a country.
“While the Royal Government has prioritized private investment in education, it is committed to continue providing universal free education to all citizens” stated the report.