Concerns raised over education policy

Deputy Chairperson of National Council (NC), Tshering Dorji, brought up an issue concerning the education policy, asking the Education Minister about a new initiative called the Education Blueprint that aims to revamp the quality of Bhutan’s education system through granting autonomy to schools as well as enhancing motivation of teachers and setting up so-called Central Schools.

The Minister, Mingbo Drukpa, explained the Ministry of Education had developed the initiative, which provides a guideline of the country’s education policy over the next decade, because the government was aware of the problems with the current situation.

The Deputy Chairman questioned the sustainability of the initiative. For example Central Schools are intended to provide basic amenities, whereas some schools are unable to continue a school feeding program. He mentioned having quality teachers could be better than just expanding schools and also asked the Minister if the initiative had been thorough a consultative process to ensure its sustainability.

Answering this question, the Minister again emphasized the framing of the policy is to fulfill the Vision 2020 and it is sustainable as the Central School reform was reviewed by relevant organizations. “The blueprint clearly states upgrading schools in terms of number of students and teachers as well as infrastructure. Also, the school reform program is under the school upgrade initiative,” he added.

It’s been just three months since the Central Schools initiative officially started. Some 24 Central School has been established this year and 18 to start next year. The Government of India committed funds to set up 49 Central Schools across the country. “I can say in three to four years time we can make difference in the quality of education,” the Minister said. He added the reform would improve the students thinking capacity and disciplines.

Other NC members also expressed their concerns about the education reform. The Trongsa NC member, Tharchen, said the consultation with students, teachers and parents must been done and asked for the development of administrative system as well as the quality of teacher and curriculum. He also pointed out there were only two schools for disabled students, calling on a reform in this field. The Bumthang NC member, Nima, said if teacher could give more time to students that would surely bring better quality. He also questioned what measures should be taken to improve the quality of normal schools, other than Central Schools.

Out of 1,778million-Ngultrum fund for the Central Schools initiative, 1,048million Ngultrum is allocated for infrastructural development and procurement. There is no allocation for improving the quality of education and the relevance of curriculum.

Bhutan’s penetration rate or the compulsory education is at 95 %. There are 658 schools, 8,572 teachers and 172,393 students in the country.

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