Digital schools

The Ministry of Education (MoE) will introduce ICT classes from PP onwards, and ensure an ICT enabling infrastructure is setup in all the primary schools in the country.

Due to the rapid change and revolution in technology, a student or a graduate would still feel illiterate if they are not equipped with digital literacy.

Digitalizing schools is not about introducing ICT or creating superficial awareness on IT. It is a serious pursuit of engaging the students with ICT from day one and imbibing it into real time programming and coding at early stages of their school life. That way, the rest of learning becomes easy, relevant and meaningful for them and the society.

To begin with, Nu 1 billion has allocated to initiate this digital move, and the government has devised structured plans for building digital capacity of the teachers first. This will ensure every school, however remote, has an adequate IT lab.

Next year, in every school, all the students from classes IV to X, will have the opportunity to learn ICT and classes from PP to III will be taught programmatic training. The computer literacy curriculum will be introduced to them.

The Education Minister has said this new initiative will ensure that enough infrastructure setup will be given to all the primary schools. The students will learn coding which will help them in organized thinking, reasoning and analyzing. This is welcome.  Currently, the percentage of students taking up ICT in class XI and XII are about 6 percent according to Bhutan Council for School Examinations and Assessment (BCSEA). By 2023, the ministry is planning to bring up to 10 percent.

The current issues and challenges revolve around the need for human resources. There is a lack of expertise, capacity of teachers to teach advanced level coding and limited ICT teachers. There are less number of computer labs and internet facilities. Investment in ICT is expensive and schools are not getting enough internet budget.

Every year, Nu 60 mn is required for internet and currently Nu 40 mn is received annually. To have sufficient internet for all the primary schools, minimum Nu 60 mn is required. In ICT curriculum, the ministry will enhance coding in school education, review the existing curriculum, introduce coding unplugged (coding without computers) for PP to 3, revamp block coding to classes IV to VIII, introduce script coding in classes VII to XII, revamp script coding in classes XI and XII. There will be elective courses for classes XI and XII.

This initiative will also look into construction of computer labs and setting up of computer labs in primary schools. The additional computers and second lab in large schools will be there in secondary schools and supply programmable robots, setting up of projection devices and strengthening internet connectivity in all the schools.

When students reach class II, they will be introduced to block programming and class VII and VIII to script programming and in class IX and X, they will be introduced to intermediate level of script coding. Bhutan must prepare for the future digital age and the best way is to equip our students.

It’s a great thing to live in a digital age. It’s convenient; it’s fast.
Loretta Lynch

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