Environmental studies (EVS) which is taught in Dzongkha from classes PP to III is taught in English from class IV onwards as social studies and science.
This sudden U-turn, some observers feel, will be to the detriment of the students’ performance. But according to the Principal Curriculum Officer for environmental studies, with the Department of Curriculum and Research Division (DCRD), Wangda Dorji, children learn the basic terms in Dzongkha more easily.
“Moreover, there is no need for any translations to be done for the local terms, for instance, lhakhangs”, he said.
Similarly, the Deputy Chief Liaison Officer at the Ministry of Education (MoE), Kaka Tshering, reiterated that Dzongkha being the state language, the children understand it without much hassle.
“It is a gradual introduction for the new young learners,” he said. Wangda Dorji added that the basics of science, geography, value education, health, physical education and social studies are present in EVS.
He also said that the ideas inculcated in EVS and social studies are the same so the children would understand it even if there is change in mode of language was used for teaching the subjects.
However, a few teachers feel that EVS should be taught in English starting from the lower classes. “Students can understand and express well in Dzongkha, scoring high marks in their lower classes but they fail to do the same in their social studies in English,”said a teacher from Yudrupcholing Pry School in Trongsa.
The medium of communication is the main problem students face so teachers feel the need for EVS in English rather than in Dzongkha. But Kinzang Dorji, a teacher at the same school feels that the present curriculum is fine.
“Teaching classes PP to III students in English will be a tough job for both students and teachers, because most of our children are not familiar with the English language”, he said.
A teacher from Yonphula Primary School, Trashigang, said that the EVS curriculum taught in Dzongkha will result in failure like the Bhutan History which was once taught in the state language.
Meanwhile, Sangay Tenzin, a social studies teacher at the Trongsa Primary School has made an interesting observation. Sangay Tenzin said that students in remote schools are good at Dzongkha while students in towns are better at English, “therefore, it is better to carry on with the current curriculum “.
Some officials from DCRD said that there are no chances of any confusion among the children because EVS is a study of culture and the Bhutanese society where the same terms have to be used frequently.
“We cannot directly make children learn science practicals from a very young age, so the basics of all the subjects are included in EVS”, said Wangda Dorji.V