Lately some glaring mistakes in school textbooks were posted online on social media by the National Council (NC) Chairperson, Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga. Many responded to the post and pointed out the need for improvement in the content of school textbooks so it is factually correct with up-to-date information and grammatically sound.
Education Minister, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, during the 26th Meet-the-Press, said that the education system consists of 118 textbooks, 23 workbooks, 169 readers, 41 supplementary readers and 95 references, along with different maps, charts, values and many other similar materials.
He said that the curriculum is taken very seriously, given that it is the heart of education.
“One must know that curriculum improvement is an ongoing process, because at various stages of time, one will then realize that one textbook, workbook, charts or any is bound to be needing improvement and updated in terms of information.”
He said there will never be a time when the curriculum is perfect.
“It should be an endeavor of the society that our curriculum is engaging and enjoyable to our learners, therefore that is always going to an effort from our side,” Lyonpo pointed out.
He mentioned in about two weeks’ time, the government will be issuing notifications to all the schools. “We are going to review our curriculum in three- level.”
The first level is at the schools where the elected teachers will review the curriculum. “Because we understood that it’s the teachers who have the most legitimate feedback since they are dealing with the subjects on a daily basis where the comprehensive feedbacks are expected.”
After which a report generated will be submitted to the dzongkhag level, where 20 dzongkhags will again review and rectify the feedback, and it will be finally be reviewed at the national level.
Education minister said the feedback is integral part of updating and changing the form of our curriculum. He said, “We would like to acknowledge all the ones who has provided the feedback.”
He said that a review of the entire feedback will be done through various parameters and aspects of figures and bring it up to the correction of textbook.
“We will see when the right time is to incorporate the changes. Perhaps some can be done immediately; some may have to be reviewed for later dates.”
Lyonpo said that there are challenges in reviewing the curriculum and there have been mistakes not only in Social Studies, but also in History, Geography and other subjects.
“When most of us talk about the curriculum, we think about the textbook, but textbook is just one part of the curriculum, textbook is usually information and content and knowledge, but we want our children to learn much more than what’s inside the textbook, curriculum is beyond that,” he added.
The ministry has merged Royal Education Council (REC) and Department of Curriculum to strengthen the pool of expertise and to consolidate the ideas of the two agencies so there is more focus on curriculum reform.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said not all textbooks are as bad as the textbook which was pointed out online. He said much effort has been made to enhance the quality of education since 2008. “With that, I hope that our curriculum will improve gradually and there is no miracle overnight,” he added.
PM said central schools were established as a solution to utilize the scarce resources and deliver better education to students. He said teacher development and curriculum review will add to improving the overall education system.
“The very principle of teaching- learning has shifted widely and so is the curriculum. Curriculum is important, but we will tackle the curriculum carefully and slowly by not jumping to any conclusion and not confusing our future learners,” PM pointed out.
REC, however, said that the comprehensive review on the curriculum is ongoing for some subjects with the involvement of larger groups of teachers and curriculum professionals. The curriculum for certain subjects, like Science is to be implemented in the academic session of 2017. REC is also making sure the textbooks do not contain conceptual mistakes.
REC pointed out that minor grammatical, printing and typing mistakes have been unavoidable due to less manpower and the sudden transformation from Indian syllabus to the Bhutanese context.