Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024, highlights a speech by His Majesty the King on the importance of education, “…Education is empowering- it’s a social equalizer and facilitates self-discovery, which leads to realizing one’s full potential. Good education gives a child a fair shot at success and ensures that a person’s achievement in life will not be predetermined by his or her race, parentage and social connections”.
Drawing inspiration from His Majesty’s royal vision, a total of 128 education heads, including the Education Minister and officials from the education ministry, are meeting at the school immersion program and biennial DEO conference to draw up an education blue print implementation plan 2016, finalize central school operational frame work, review SRP and address central issues, value education and student well-being (school counseling), review draft national education policy, review NFE program, BCSEA and REC plans and program.
The conference, which started on January 6 and scheduled to end on January 12, acknowledged the pressing need for high quality education, and the participants expressed confidence that education reform is achievable, considering the fact that Bhutan has a small population.
Based on feedback and data from nationwide public consultations, Ministry of Education initiated the preparation of Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024, a ten-year strategic roadmap to facilitate the system turn-around in the shortest possible time period.
Recent studies have also identified the urgent need to enhance teacher/leadership competencies and to provide greater autonomy to schools as critical areas.
During a meeting conducted in April 2014 with the Prime Minister, officials from Ministry of Education, Gross National Happiness Commission and Ministry of Finance, several serious concerns were raised on the deteriorating quality and standards of education and the need to address the issues urgently.
Ministry of Education was directed to initiate ways and means to rationalize the existing school system into fewer numbers, preferably with classes ranging from PP to X/XII, so that students need not have to change too many schools, which often created disturbances, such as uprooting the students from their communities and causing huge financial burdens on the parents.
Following the government directives and in-line with the Education Blueprint 2014-2014, the Ministry of Education launched the School Reform Programme in the 2015 academic year.
The primary focus of the program has been to identify and establish large boarding central schools with adequate infrastructure and the required educational resources.
A winner of the Golden Youth Award and a student of Samtengang Central School, Karma Choki, said rather than spending money on blankets, mattresses and slippers for the central schools, it would be better if the government spends the budget on improving the quality of education by providing more books and improving other facilities for co-curricular activities.
A student of Dorokha Central School, Sangay, pointed out the shortage of teachers in his school and the lack of many facilities which the government must look into.
Similarly, a student at Kamji Middle Secondary School, Sonam, expressed concerns that his school is already facing an accommodation shortage at the hostel. Therefore, the schools will be overcrowded as it will be converted to a central school in 2016.
“Both the boys and girls hostel are congested and since we have water shortage as well, the Gewog officials have started to construct water tapes and it is almost ready, otherwise it is very convenient to used as central school for the highway is located just nearby,” Sonam said.
The conference will prioritize SRP development of central schools, SRP central school operational framework, NYAP value education and student well-being, NFE program, draft national education policy, REC curriculum and teacher development, and BCSEA plans and programs.
The conference is also expected to delve deeper into issues related to the development of central schools, its sustainability, and exploration of ways and means to fast track the overall improvement in the quality of school education.