The ministry of education (MOE) will be enrolling 1,500 students in private schools for the 2021 academic year out of 12,500 students. The rest of the students will be absorbed in the government schools. The private school association will decide how to share the 1,500 students among themselves.
Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said some government schools will be upgraded to class XI. Many schools are under construction for hostels and other infrastructures and by 2022 everything will be completed.
He said all the proprietors of the private schools were fully informed on this on the first day by the Prime Minister and it was clearly explained that by 2022 academic year, all the lower ranking students of class X will be absorbed in the government schools.
The private schools have been given time to redesign the business idea and one private school has already implemented a risk mitigation strategy.
The government policy to remove cut-off point has benefitted the private schools in urban areas for now but the far-fetched schools like Kelki High School in Kanglung, Sherub Reldri in Mongar, Sonam Kuenphen in Bumthang and Dungsam Academy in Samdrup Jongkhar with mainly rural students have been immediately impacted as they have smaller student densities and many students have opted for the government scholarships.
The education minister said few private schools were already on the verge of closing down even before the government implemented the policy itself.
The minister believes that the proprietors will come up with their own business strategies to mitigate all the upcoming issues.
Lyonpo said that earlier when there was a cut-off point, private schools were running their business but after analyzing, there is no injustice in private schools because the government has frontloaded their revenue after implementing the cut-off point.
Earlier the private schools used to get not more than 100 students in a year and after removing the cut-off point, the government increased it to 300 to 400 students. Lyonpo said the revenue they used to earn for almost 10 years, can be earned within two years.
The minister expressed his gratitude and regards for whatever the private schools have done so far.
Lyonpo said when the government implements any policies, the business people must change their business strategy according to the policy.
“They will definitely come out of any temporary policy hiccups because every year 7,000 students are given opportunities to study up to class XII. Because of the policy shift big social gaps are being narrowed. Earlier, hardly 2,700 students were absorbed in private schools and rest were left out and many of them got into social issues. Now at least on an average 4,000 students were given private scholarships and we increased another 2,500 seats in the government schools. Almost 7,000 students were able to continue their education. Within three years 21,000 students are able to continue studying,” said the minister.
However, Kelki High School in Kanglung, Trashigang is going to shut down due to no new admission for 2021 academic year. Upon asking whether the government will take the school, the minister said the government has not thought about it but if they approach the government and if the government advises the ministry then it will be a different issue.
He said the Prime Minister has asked the ministry to visit the school and the technical team will report the structure and the Prime Minister will decide.
The education minister said those parents and students who are willing to go to private schools depending on the quality of teaching or learning, are allowed to go as usual. The government is targeting only the students who are not able to avail the services due to economic difficulties. So in order to narrow the gap the government is opening up the place to study at least for two years for those who were not able to continue their education.
Meanwhile the President of Private School Association, Tshering Dorji said the private schools which were flourishing for the last 40 years will be shutting down in the future.
He said many of these schools were established upon the request of the government in those days otherwise many students were out in the street and dropping out because the government could not take them in due to the lack of infrastructure.
He said in a way, private schools have helped the government to educate the students. He said thousands of students have passed out from the private schools and many are holding good positions in the government and private services.
“However, with a little change in the policy, it has impacted the entire private schools and the private schools are not getting ample opportunity to redesign their business module because their business module was based upon the government’s policy that existed before,” he added.
He said most of the public schools particularly in the urban centers are already packed and on the other hand, the private schools are going empty.
The President said it is high time to consider the quality of education rather than increasing the number of students and teachers. “So in this regard, quality means the students in the classroom should be less in order to deliver a quality education,” he said.
With regard to the Kelki High School in Kanglung, the President said that he really appreciates the idea of someone who has invested millions in the establishment of a school in Trashigang.
However, he said now there will not be anyone who would have the courage to build a school as it is doomed. He said is not only a loss for the proprietor but it is loss for the bank, and a loss for the national economy.