The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa has criticized the Central Schools program of the government calling it archaic and reversing the advances made in self-reliance.
The party said that while there is no disagreement on the consolidation of the school system to improve efficiency and quality of education in the long run.
Having said that, DNT said it is concerned with the manner in which the PDP government is bulldozing ahead with central schools in spite of several critical issues that the party said is guaranteed to pose problems for the future and undermine improvements in quality of education.
DNT said the central school project is a typical top-down bureaucratic approach, not in keeping with democratic processes. Inadequate consultation, without involvement of key stakeholders (Dzongkhags, local government and communities) has resulted in wrong selection of sites for central schools and has divided communities as seen in several places the party said. Grass root implementers such as Dzongkhag and gewog officials and most importantly the school principals are not provided adequate information resulting in confusion and lack of coordination, according to it.
The party said that research on costs, sustainability and implementation is not adequately done. The operational guideline for central schools is woefully inadequate for a project of this magnitude. DNT said the quality of education that is expected to improve with the central schools has not been amply researched and there is as yet no evidence provided.
“ The government in its ignorance and haste to fulfill its campaign promise does not see the requirement of studying the experience of the initial 24 pilot central schools and instead has chosen to expand to further 60 schools,” said the party. It argued instead the government should carry out a careful study on the effectiveness of the central in improving quality of education, analyze the performance of the pilot schools, correct the deficiencies and build on the experiences.
It said that Central schools are being established hastily without adequate and proper facilities. Inadequate infrastructure and space in many schools is creating problems for students and teachers.
“Insufficient space and amenities for large number of boarders is creating overcrowding and unsafe living conditions,” the party said.
DNT said by reintroducing freebies in all central schools the government is creating a new generation of dependents as opposed to contributory citizens. “What our farsighted leaders took decades to inculcate among our people is being undone,” the party said,
The party said that the biggest question in everyone’s mind, even when accepting the positive aspects of the central school is whether such initiatives with massive handouts are sustainable. “With many donors phasing out their support and internal revenues still insufficient to meet current government expenses, how is the government planning for such a costly overhaul? What are the financial implications for future governments? Is giving freebies really necessary? Do these contribute towards improving quality of education?,” the party asked.
DNT said it is concerned that the present model of central school being implemented is under researched, inadequately consulted, hastily implemented, unsustainable and unlikely to improve the quality of education.
The DNT said that while it got permission from local Dzongkhags to visit some Central Schools the Government of the day issued a circular to the District/Thromde Education Officers, “not to entertain any political party visits”. Therefore DNT had to halt their research and could not conduct a detailed study. DNT said its intention was to submit their findings with a hope to support and improve the new Central School Education System.