Computer Application will no longer be an optional subject for class nine students starting from the next academic session. Instead, there is a new ICT curriculum that students and teachers can look forward to.
“With the implementation of the ICT curriculum in class nine, the optional subject Computer Application, which is currently offered in schools for class nine, will be discontinued immediately,” said the Director of Royal Education Council (REC), Kinga Dakpa.
He said there was a mismatch between the computer skills provided in schools and the computer skills used outside the schools, “The current ICT curriculums offered in the schools do not provide adequate skills and competencies to adapt in the knowledge society.”
He added that a new curriculum is being designed for class ten in 2020, and for classes eleven and twelve subsequently. “The assessment modality for the class ten will be decided after the discussion with BCSEA in the coming year,” said the Director.
The earlier curriculum was first introduced for classes four to six in 2017 and for classes seven and eight in 2018 in line with iSherig Education ICT Master Plan (2014-2018), and Bhutan Education Blueprint (2014-2024)
While the program has been implemented in almost all the schools, however, there are major challenges faced by a few schools with limited IT infrastructures and facilities.
The Department of School Education (DSE), Ministry of Education (MoE) highlighted that the program was started to promote ICT literacy learning in the schools where the other optional subjects including economics and environmental science are not mandatory and will continue as usual.
Regarding the challenges, the department said that the challenges related to implantation of ICT classes four to eight is mainly due to inadequate human resources. “However, starting with schools having computer labs, computers and internet connectivity, the ministry has trained at least one teacher in those schools,” said Karma Tshering, director of the DSE.
In terms of infrastructure, he said that establishing well set-up computers in small primary schools is expensive considering the less number of students and concerns of sustainability.
“Due to geographical location of the schools, taking internet connection to many schools is not feasible,” in addition, he said the internet is inconsistent and is also expensive for the schools to pay the monthly rental charge.
“The ministry of education and REC are exploring other probabilities like mobile or portable tablets in the primary schools.” He added the ministry is also exploring with the information and communication ministry to provide connectivity with higher bandwidth at affordable rates.
However, he also pointed out that the responsibilities to set up computer labs and supply has been decentralized to the dzongkhags and thromdes in 12th Plan.
According to the Head of ICT Curriculum, Thinley, the new curriculum will be regularized once the curriculum becomes suitable for every school to learn by overcoming certain challenges in terms of infrastructure and human resource. The subject is to be taught to students once a week for one or two years.
“In a move towards preparing our students to be adept, productive and responsible in the knowledge society, the curriculum framework is conceived with the view of what they can do at the end of each class and key stage.”
The students are expected to have functional ICT knowledge and skills to perform productively and responsibly in knowledge society and be able to pursue work opportunities in the field of ICT. The students would also be expected to engage in formulating efficient solutions to problems through logical reasoning and algorithmic thinking.
“Over the years, new technologies have emerged, the world has become more connected, and the way people work has changed” he said adding that the 21st Century learning requires an additional literacy apart from traditional literacy such as reading, writing and numeracy.
The new curriculum deals with the modern practical applications, in keeping up with relevant tools of the trade for 21st Century.
“The goal of the program is focused on future generation of the people to explore their skills and knowledge to become responsible citizen in the digital world. It has become the necessary tool for learning in the 21st Century,” pointed out the curriculum developers.
The curriculum framework was designed on outcome-based standards geared towards achieving the goals of ICT education though four connecting themes; Technology Operations and Concepts, Communication and Collaboration, Digital Citizenship, and Computational Thinking. “These four strands run across all classes, four to twelve, in varying extent and depth of coverage.”