There are some changes being anticipated in the education sector. Doing away with the Saturday classes is one change, among many in the education system, which is prioritized by the ruling government for progressive learning.
The education minister, Lyonpo Jai Bir Rai, believes this is a constructive move. “No classes on Saturday means more time with oneself which should be a reflective time,”Lyonpo said.
He said the implementation of the DNT’s pledge to do away with Saturday classes would enormously benefit both teachers and students. “Teachers get relaxed time to prepare their lesson plans and teaching aids, while students get time to write their homework or study, spend leisure time or be with the family,” he said adding that this also helps the mental and emotional aspect of an individual.
“I think it will definitely have a positive impact,but then, a full assurance can’t be given at the moment as we are yet to implement it,” he said adding, “We’ll only be able to see the real impact after the implementation, and do the assessment after two to three years which is the standard assessment period.”
He also said the good side of having the Saturday classes is teachers getting more time to cover-up the syllabus and students’ being engaged in various activities. But at the same time, he said it ismore tedious for students as well as for teachers to be occupied without much rest.
Before the implementation, Lyonpo said that analysis and preliminary discussion will be donewith all the relevant stakeholders and the approach and strategy for the teachers and students to spend the weekends meaningfully will be explored. “Whatever changes, big or small, that we are bringing in the education system, is mainly to prepare and improve our children’s future,” he said.
The Principal of Zilukha Middle Secondary School, Dawa Tshering, said, “I strongly support the pledge of doing away with Saturday classes as during Saturdays, classes start from 9 am in the morning till 12 noon, which means we have only 3 hours for the lessons, which I think can be adjusted in weekdays from Monday to Friday with some extended hours.” He believes having no classes on Saturday will benefit students and teachers,and also ease the workload on parents and subsequentlyhelps them to spend more time with their children.
He also said, “I think it was discussed during one of the Thromde’s educational council meetings and Thimphu Thromde even proposed to doing away with Saturday classes, but it was somehow dismissed,” he added, “In the past, a minimum of 180 days is required for teaching, but now, it is not calculated on the number of days but on number of hours, so if we could extend few hours from Monday to Friday, we can cover all the lessons.”
“Being a teacher and a principal for so many years, I feel that doing away with Saturday classes will not affect both teaching and learning,” he added.
Druk School’s Principal, Tshewang Choden Wangdi, said, “In my school, we don’t have classes on Saturday since 2008,for many reasons,” adding further, “We focus very well for five days a week, we do not waste any instructional time and we make sure that our children get the best in school for five days. On Saturday and Sunday, we feel that it’s so important to do a lot of things that they like which are hobbies, meeting with friends and family, cultural visits and so that leaves them very rejuvenated when they come to school on Monday.”
She said the teachers in Druk School work only two Saturdays in a month.The other two Saturdays are off. “The first and the third Saturday, we give them off so that they can go for medical and banking among others, and in other two Saturdays, we do professional development.”
She said the school has effective teachers so she might make all Saturdays off. “My teachers work really hard and I have to ensure that they get enough rest, spend family time with their family and also do the things they like to do. And despite this, we are always the topper in the whole country, so it’s all about managing time,”she said, “I don’t know about government schools but as a principal of a private school, I am all for doing away with Saturday classes for students and teachers,” she added.
Principal of Thimphu Primary School,Jigme Dorji, said, “As a primary school, we don’t have classes on Saturday, but I feel that there should be no classes on Saturday in other schools too because when kids are around, we cannot do anything as we need to attend to them but if Saturday is kept off and when kids are not around, teachers can come to school on Saturday and we can focus on professional development.”
Principal of Gedu High School, Tshochu, said the good part of doing away with the Saturday classes is that the teachers get a good weekend like any other civil servant. “It becomes fair for teachers as they are always loaded with work throughout the week,” he added, and further said that Saturdays are mostly used as non-academic day as most of the programs are conducted on Saturday. But he added, “We can easily makeup for Saturday by extending an hour each inthe weekdays.”
Meanwhile, the Vice Principal of Wangchu Middle Secondary School, Kelzang Wangdi, feels that doing away the Saturday classes will just add pressure on the teachers and students to keep with the lessons. “Saturday is also needed to carry out co-curricular activities, meetings and school beautification programs,” he said.
A parent of two school going children, Jampel Wangmo, 32, said, “DNT’s pledge to do away with Saturday classes would benefit not just students and teachers but also the parents because we ‘ll be able to spend more time with our children and I feel that being a teacher, myself, all students, teachers and parents need the two days off.”