Education in Bhutan-achievements and challenges- Final part

Education and world’s market

Although the goal of education is more than preparing a student for a job, education should at least solve the youth unemployment issue. If our education takes care of this in the first place, it would lessen the burden of government’s headache and cost incurred for solving the unemployment problem. Employment is not only about government and private agencies giving jobs but youth being able to work and create a job. Do we have a curriculum to solve unemployment problem?

We have to prepare our children for their life but not just for their success in examination. It seems that we prepare students to be well-versed in textbook and solving question. But we need to do more in education.

Education has to be more skill-based. The learning at school should be transferable to the reality beyond. Vocational Training Institute (VTI) is one such example which provides skill-based education. If we compare between a degree graduate and a VTI graduate, then their skills at the market is similar.  A degree graduate in electrical engineering and VTI graduate as electrician almost serve the same function in the field. Moreover, a VTI graduate almost outperforms an electrical engineer in terms of practical knowledge and skills in the field. I feel sorry to narrate this reality in the country.

The unemployed youths are graduates of class 10, 12 and college. Knowledge of class twelve science graduates who are unemployed has same value to that of the knowledge of a class ten graduate who are unemployed as well. Where is the application of knowledge learned from the bulky books of physics, chemistry and mathematics? A VTI graduates do not have to find a job but they have skills to earn a living. But a degree graduate has to hunt for a job.

Another example would be contract recruitment of warden, matron and laboratory assistant in schools. One of the selection criteria is that they need class twelve and degree passed certificate. Any class twelve or degree certificate holder can compete for the same position. What is the use of their qualifications if both of them compete for same position? This means that a class twelve graduate can shoulder the responsibilities equivalent to what the degree graduate could do.

Teacher’s workload

A report of National Council, 2016 states  that teachers’ on average work for 57.51 hours in a week or 10.45 hours in a day indicating that teachers work is 2.45 hours more than a general civil servant in a day.

The report also shows that teachers work 55 days more than a general civil servant in a year. This truly confirms that the teachers are over burdened, which invariably affect the students’ learning outcomes, if not addressed urgently. The Canadian and Australian teachers spent an average of 8 hours in a week planning and preparing lessons whereas teachers in Bhutan spend 18.54 on teaching, 14 hours for lesson planning and preparation, 13.15 hours on assessment, 13 hours on non-academic activities in a week.

While talk is going on about keeping Saturdays off in schools; some are reluctant and doubtful to   complete their syllabus on time. This is not worrisome. We have to be courageous and find a way forward.

We are so immersed into old ways of doing and feel uncomfortable to change. It is the bulky curriculum that consumes much of teacher’s time.

Thus, reducing curriculum will benefit students, teachers and country at large. Doing away Saturdays in schools is advantageous to teachers and students. Teachers will get more time for assessment and planning which will reduce workload of teachers. Moreover, students will find more time to do revision and homework. Additionally, teachers’ non-involvement in non-academic activities would invariably reduce the burden.

Teachers and motivation

Teaching profession is the least opted job in the country. What are we doing to change the teaching profession to make the most popular job? Moreover, teachers leaving the profession is increasing every year. In the last one year, 263 teachers resigned voluntarily. Everyone witnessed this trend. But we are complacent as if it doesn’t cost anything to the country.  If we keep on saying that there are hundreds of young candidates waiting to replace then we will have difficulty in maintaining a pool of expertise in teaching.

We invest heavily on training teachers during their training period and school time. It is a complete wastage of resources for the country when a huge amount is spent on their training but teachers keep on leaving. Then, to replace the vacancy we will have to spend another huge amount on training new batches.

The implication of teacher leaving profession can be calculated mathematically; about 263 teachers resigned voluntarily in the last one year. If each teacher had received training and workshop once in two years, the government would have spent Nu 12000 on each teacher. Then the total expenditure spent for 263 teachers in two years would be Nu.3.156 million.

Everyone knows the reason behind teachers leaving their job is due to poor motivation. What should we do to boost the morale of our teachers? How should we motivate our teachers?  Answering these two questions would find a solution for teachers’ retention.

Teacher’s skills in primary school children

Although what we achieved in primary education is the result of teachers’ perseverance, we need to work more to achieve higher goals. We need teacher specialists especially in primary schools. Teacher’s skill is inadequate to deal with a child age ranging from 5.5 to 12. That age range is a sensitive period where a child learns early experiences, about morality, languages and enhanced psychomotor skills. Moreover, a child undergoes cognitive and socio-emotional development. Do we train teachers that are enough to cater all aspects of a young child going to primary school?

A foreign teacher from United Kingdom during her voluntary teaching period in one of the schools in Lhuentse Dzongkhag said that there is a need of further specialization of teacher in primary school. Thus, we need to relook into these issues and train teachers in a timely manner.

By Karma Rinzin

The writer is a teacher

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