The number of applicants for the Bhutan Civil Service Examination (BCSE) has increased to 4,083 since the removal of the restriction on the number of times that the exam can be taken.
According to the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), 200 applicants are appearing for BCSE for the third time. On the representation of graduates, 3,822 applicants have obtained their degrees from within Bhutan with 655 obtaining degrees from outside the country.
As per records with RCSC, there were 2,543 applicants in 2022 and 3,912 in 2021. Comparatively, the highest number of candidates applying was seen in 2020 with 4,400 applicants.
Sherab Wangchuk, a graduate from Gedu College of Business Studies in 2021, said, “This is my second time doing PE, and I am planning to do PE and BCSE until I get through. I have attempted PE in 2021 where I could not perform well. I joined DeSuung after that.”
He had enrolled himself in an animation course under DeSuup Skilling Program in 2022. He was hesitant to sit for BCSE, as he did not want to squander the remaining two chances he had.
“Now, as the quota for PE restrictions is lifted, I feel it is good news for us. It is a good opportunity for youths who really want to serve in the government sector. I have a friend who passed in the PE for two times but couldn’t do well in RCSE and since his quota finished, he had no other option than to go to Australia looking for better opportunities.”
If the government had lifted the quota restriction earlier then his friend would have tried again, he added.
Chimi Dema, a recent graduate from the Faculty of Nursing and Public Health (FNPH), shared that it is her first-time doing PE and she intends to sit for the exam again and again until she makes it.
“If I don’t get through this time, I am planning to apply again next time and until I make it. I am working on a contract basis, and there is a huge difference between those working on contract and those who are not, in terms of opportunity and many more,” she pointed out.
She further said, “With the quota restriction lifted on the PE, it is a great advantage and at the same time opportunity for the ones who want to serve in the government sector. While attending PE couching classes, I came to know from those individuals who have completed their quota with regard to PE and BCSE saying that with no math background, it was very difficult for them to get through this examination, and although having the chance to attend the PE for three times and BCSE two times, they found it very difficult to pass.”
She said there is a hope now to pass at least once or perform even better on the next exam.
“When the PE was allowed for only three times, individuals who were attending for the first time had a notion that if they fail on their first try, it was normal, as they had a second chance, however, while attending for the third time, they mostly had a fear that this was their last chance and if they fail, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve in the civil service.”
She said there are individuals working on contract basis as after they could not pass BCSE.
“The degree holders are paid the same as diploma holders, which is a discouraging factor caused by the quota system by RCSC, however, with the lifting of the quota, individuals are encouraged and are determined to pass the PE at least once,” she further added.
Most of the candidates mentioned that lifting of the quota restriction has given them hope, especially motivated by the recent civil servant pay hike.
PE is the first phase of the selection process, ensuring minimum standards required of a graduate who wants to enter into the civil service. It also serves to shortlist candidates for the Main Examination (ME). Otherwise, considering the huge number of graduates signing up for the exam, it would be extremely costly, in terms of financial and human resources and examination facilities, to conduct ME for thousands of graduates.
PE paper is common to all categories of graduates. PE consists of 100 objective-type questions for 100 marks, which are designed to test the minimum Dzongkha and English communication skills, logical and analytical skills, problem-solving, and data interpretation abilities of the candidates. These are the minimum core competencies requirement of an officer rank to enter RCSC.
PE levels out the differences and variations in subject difficulty levels, assessment schemes, and educational standards and quality. It provides a level playing field for graduates to compete for the ME, irrespective of degree background.
The generous pay hike also seems to have played its part with many young graduates opting to try for the Civil Service.