The academic session this year began with doing away with the Saturday classes after the decision was endorsed during the 19th education conference on December last year.
Education minister Lyonpo JB Rai said that even with no Saturday classes, the time allotted for syllabus coverage is more than required. “The question on syllabus coverage makes no sense here.” He said this was one main concern pointed out during the education conference.
However, he said that doing away with Saturday class means no classroom teaching. “But depending on schools, there can be co-curricular activities, important meetings and professional development programmes as and when required.” He added the proposals came from the floor during the conference.
He said although each teacher is required to go through 80 hours professional development (PD) program in a year, the routine will not affect the timing in regular teaching learning process.
Of the 80 hours, 40 hours training will be provided by the ministry, 20 hours by the dzongkhag during the vacations and holidays while the rest 20 hours should be provided by the respective schools.
“It depends on how the school plans, whether on weekdays or weekend, but the time management and allotting it for Saturday is not necessary, it can be done in any weekdays”.
Lyonpo said 180 days is the standard classroom teaching time required to cover syllabus at current level. He said that even after taking out Saturdays, there is at least 185 days of contact teaching which he said is more than required. “So where is the question of not being able to cover the syllabus?”
Curriculum thinning, which will be implemented from this academic year, and differentiated curriculum would also accelerate the syllabus coverage, he said. “REC has already finished its work on thinning the curriculum by cutting out those contents which are not necessary for our children to learn; that way it would also help cover the syllabus faster.”
“This resolution is not for any reason but for the students as well as for the teachers to get the real taste of education by providing self-reflective time. I expect every school and stakeholder to take ownership of this great initiative taken.”
Meanwhile, some schools asked teachers to attend Saturday for PD program and co-curricular activities twice a month, saying that they do not have enough time during weekdays due to exemption of Saturday classes. This decision was also made during the education conference.
Other schools like Pelkhil decided that the Saturdays would be used for necessary activities such as parent-teacher meetings and other important activities.