Education Minister addresses concerns on admission criteria for Arts Students in Colleges

The Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) released the list of undergraduate and diploma courses for seven government colleges on January 26, 2023.

Notably, changes were made to the Arts and Humanities programs at Sherubtse College, including the removal of BA courses in Dzongkha and English, BA in English, BA in Media Studies, and BA in History.

The pass percentage for Arts stream students in the Bhutan Higher Secondary Education Certificate (BHSEC) exam of 2022 was the highest among the three streams, with 5,805 out of 6,543 students passing, accounting for an impressive pass rate of 88.72%.

In a recent question and answer session held at the National Assembly on June 23rd, concerns regarding the admission criteria and opportunities for Arts students in higher education were raised by a MP Gyambo Tshering from the Bardo-Trong Constituency.

The Minister of Education, Jai Bir Rai provided clarifications on the the allocation of seats and the importance of Arts subjects in tertiary education.

The member highlighted that Arts students who scored 80% and above in their Class XII examinations were not being considered for slots created by the government for pursuing higher education in colleges. The transparency of the admission criteria, shortlisting process, and selection of Arts students for higher education was brought into question.

In response, Lyonpo Jai Bir Rai said Arts students were indeed being considered for tertiary-level education. While acknowledging the impact of changes in the system and politics, the Minister acknowledged that the withdrawal of certain courses had affected students who did not choose Mathematics in their streams, particularly those in the Dry Arts field.

However, the Minister emphasized that numerous opportunities were still available for Arts students in various fields of study. Programs such as Bachelor in Administration and Commerce and B.Sc. Sustainable Development in the College of Natural Resources accepted students from both Commerce and Arts backgrounds.

Similarly, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College offered courses such as Diploma in Computer System and Networking and Diploma in Material and Procurement Management, which were open to Class 12 pass-outs regardless of their stream, provided they had studied Mathematics.

The Minister further highlighted a range of other courses available to Arts students, including Bachelor in Primary Education, Diploma in Physical Education and Sports, Bachelor in Economics and Political Science, Bachelor in Digital Communication and Project Management, Bachelor in Data Science and Data Analysis, Bachelor in Computer Science, and Bachelor in Interactive Design and Development. These courses aimed to provide equal opportunities to around 6,000 students from Arts backgrounds, without discrimination between Science and Arts streams.

However, the Minister acknowledged that the lack of a Mathematics background posed challenges for some Arts students. To address this issue, efforts were underway to create opportunities for these students. Approximately 380-390 students had already been accepted into university courses, and work was ongoing to provide solutions for the remaining students within the next seven to eight months. The Minister urged cooperation from all ministries in this effort.

Highlighting the statistics, the Minister pointed out that around 83% of Arts students had been recruited in colleges so far, equating to 1,313 students.

The Minister’s said there are opportunities available for Arts students in higher education and emphasized the ongoing efforts to address the challenges faced by those without a Mathematics background. He said the government remains committed to providing equal opportunities and ensuring a diverse range of courses for all students, contributing to the inclusive development of Bhutan’s education system.

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