From farms to schools

Bhutan saw its first school opened in 1914 in Haa and subsequently, especially from the 1960’s, modern education spread far and wide across Bhutan.

Modern education in Bhutan started off with government officials having to convince and even order farmers to take their children off the farm and send them to school.

In the early days many saw education as a waste and as less hands to help in the fields.

It was only a few years down the line when the benefits of education became clear for the family and nation as the educated children started to form the nation’s elite in terms of taking on important official posts and further enhancing development.

The mass education strategy of Bhutan paid rich dividends for the nation and people as it lifted many out of poverty, and at the same time ensured an educated workforce taking important positions in the government.

In fact, the massive growth in Bhutan’s urban towns can be closely linked to not only our development process but also our education process.

Bhutan’s education system soon started producing thousands of students every year who were no longer suited to the rural life and so they migrated in large numbers to urban centers for jobs.

This was all fine as long as there were enough government and some private jobs to go around, but there came a time when Bhutan started producing much more students than was required for vacancies in the government.

It was not only the numbers now that was the problem, but also the quality of students who were only educated the basics in an outdated education system.

Another problem facing Bhutan was also its inability to ever achieve economic self-sufficiency despite spending billions in all types of programs.

It was increasingly clear that our economy was neither producing the jobs our youths wanted neither the revenues our government needed.

Things kept getting worse with the latest manifestation being thousands of educated youths heading out to Australia to make a life for themselves.

The whole aim of the transformation initiative is to get out of the vicious cycle above and take our economy, education and governance to next level so that our youth have a future to look forward to.

We cannot step back on the farms, but we also cannot afford a status quo of no change as the price to pay for that will only get higher as time goes by.

Change brings opportunity.
Nido Qubein

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