Govt reiterates it is in line with the Constitution, will not affect quality of education and is sustainable
The government in its 6th Friday meet on 8th February announced the implementation of its much discussed initiative to do away with the class 10 cut off and fund students in private schools.
In line with this the government announced that the Ministry of Education (MoE) has met the management of 21 private schools. The MoE and 15 private schools have agreed on government scholarship of Nu 30,000- for day-students and Nu 50,000 for boarding-students.
The government will place the class 10 passed students among the 15 identified schools only. The government said it is thankful to the private schools for their partnership in this endeavor.
The government said it has no concerns on the constitutionality of the initiative unless it comes from the guardian of the Constitution.
It said that the picture becomes clear if Article 9, Section 16 is read along with Article 9, Section 15 which states, ‘The State shall endeavor to provide education for the purpose of improving and increasing knowledge, values and skills of the entire population with education being directed towards the full development of the human personality’.
It added that during the public consultation of the draft-Constitution in Bumthang , His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had commanded, ‘When the country becomes prosperous the government may provide free education not only up to 12th standard but may be able to provide up to 13th, 14th and 15th standard’.
“Are we not living by this vision? Bhutan will be graduating from least developed country to middle income country in 2023,” asked the government in a release.
The government said it would like to clarify that the erstwhile cut-off point was not the only measure to improve the quality of education.
“The cut-off point if analyzed properly, was increasing and decreasing depending on the pass percentage of the class 10 students and the intake capacity of government schools in class 11,” says the release.
The government said it is of the view that if the cut-off point was a measure to determine the quality of education, it should have been increasing every year.
“The basis for cut-off point was not the quality of education but the availability of seats,” says the release.
“Imagine thousand of youths being cut-off from education because of the cut-off point. No one has raised concern over this,” it added.
The government said that with the aim to improve the quality of education, the government has started to work on important aspects such as maintaining teacher-student ratio; professional development for teachers to make teaching the best profession in the country; and shifting from summative to formative style of education.
It said that to begin with, the Education Ministry after consultation with the experts will roll out formative style of education and do away with examinations from classes PP to three from 2020 gradually rolling it out to the higher classes. This is as most developed countries are doing away with examinations.
“The government is aware that the quality of education is important. Hence, we are taking measures to improve and are confident that the quality will advance in future,” said the release.
The government said that the initiative itself is being started because the present system is not sustainable.
“At one of point of time, these youths if not provided the opportunity to continue their higher studies will go on to become a burden for the society. When it is an age for the children to study, we must let them study,” said the release.
“The fact is that we are investing in our children – our future with the long-term interest of our nation in mind. The youth unemployment rate at 12.5% is a concern for the government. A study on this figure will show that class 10 and 12 passed out youth forms a huge chunk contributing to unemployment. The government is hence sealing one source of that unemployed section by allowing the students to study,” added the release.
The government asked if this isn’t this a wise, long-term and professional attempt to solve the issue of unemployment permanently.
It admitted that as a major milestone in the country for the first time, the government realizes that glitches will occur.
It said no change has been possible smoothly. “The government understands the concerns raised on sustainability by our concerned citizens. However, the positive impact this initiative will have on our future generation will be huge. This investment in human-power is a means to the sustainability of our future generation and our nation. Would you not consider this solution?,” said the release.
The government addressed the question raised by some on if it was transferring unemployment from class 10 to 12.
“Yes, that is a valid argument. Put yourself in this situation, what options are available for gainful employment after class 10 and 12. We are all aware that means for gainful employment and other opportunities like diploma & degree courses and training opportunities start from class 12,” said the release.
The government said that when these children are given opportunity to pursue their education up to class 12, it is more likely that the number of unproductive children will reduce. Also, after completing class 12, children are in a better position to take their own decisions for their life’s journey.
“It is also legally correct to allow them to do so, since by then most of them would have attained the legal age of 18 years old. Moreover, this would pressure the government to explore better avenues for our young children after class 12,” said the release.
The government said that if it had not taken up this initiative, the society would still have to deal with class 10 dropouts’ unemployment issue.
The government reiterated that this whole program was part of its efforts to invest in human power alongside hydropower. It said the Education Ministry has been accorded one of the highest priorities by the government with strategies to shift from summative to formative style of education; enhance teacher quality with improved facilities and services; and provide conducive environment for education.
“Allowing class 10 passed students to continue their education is a huge milestone for the Education sector and our Nation. The government is making an investment in the generation who are our nation’s future. It is an initiative to allow our youths to study and not shove them as unemployed youths at a young tender age. If we are to ripe dividend from the young people, we must invest in this age group. We must raise the quality of our population by investing in human capital,” said the release.
It asked which government in the world would ask class 10 passed children at the tender age of 15 and 16 to look for jobs.