Bhutan’s Annual Status of Student Learning (ASSL) 2011 showed low performance by students compared to ASSL 2008. Students from governments schools in Bhutan performed lower than the international average in all classes and subjects tested.
The ASSL 2011 brought out by a collaboration of Royal Education Council (REC), Ministry of Education (MoE) and Educational Initiative, India stated that overall learning of Bhutanese students are lower than the international average as represented by studies like ‘Trend in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)’.
About 40 questions were common between ASSL 2008 and ASSL 2011 across subjects where there was not of improvement in different classes and subjects but lowered performance compared to 2008, especially in Class VIII Maths.
The study stated that the fact that students have performed lower than the earlier batches shows that in higher classes, the system needs to be more alert to the slippage that is happening and investigate it further in classrooms.
“This is a wakeup call that requires the attention of policy makers and schools to the falling performance even on simple procedural learning,” stated the report.
Over 40,620 students in Classes IV, VI and VIII from 465 schools in 20 Dzongkhags were tested in English, Mathematics and Science. The test was conducted in November 2011 monitored by REC officials, Dzongkhag Education Officers (DEOs) and Assistant Dzongkhag Education Officers (ADEOs).
Nonetheless, performance of Bhutanese students from private schools is higher than the international average in Class VIII Science and on par in Class VIII Maths.
Performances of Class IV students were found below average both in government as well as in private schools.
There is a huge gap in Class IV compared to Class VIII, however in some cases, in Class VIII Science, students performed exceedingly better than the international average.
The report stated in regard to this, “With the matter of concern, if learning does not happen in lower class levels, it often leads to an accumulated learning deficit that is difficult to rectify at higher classes”.
ASSL brought to notice in 2008 that the variation in performance among students and schools is fairly low in Bhutan compared to most large educational systems
The standard deviation is less than 15% indicating a largely homogenous educational system.
The study showed, the performances of most Dzongkhag are becoming similar to the national average and the number of Dzongkhags differentiating its performance from the average is reducing.
“Overall, the number of Dzongkhags that are significantly above average reduced from four in 2008 to one in 2011,” the report stated.
Thimphu showed consistent above average performance each year whereas Lhuentse, Trashiyangtse, Zhemgang and Gasa continued to be among the lower performers each year.
Paro consistently improved its performance across the year while Dagana consistently showed a downward trend from above average in 2008 to below average performance in 2011.
Other Dzongkhags moved up and down in their ranking, although they were not significantly different from the national coverage.
Currently there are about 647 schools in Bhutan.