The Light of Drukyul project initiated by the Ministry of Education (MoE) will discontinue the hiring of contract teachers selected at university graduate level this year.
MoE hired the contract teachers as an interim measure to overcome the shortage of teachers around the country. The first batch of 158 contract teachers was recruited in 2008, and have been given the opportunity to enroll in the the Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE). A second batch of 285 contract teachers was recruited in 2009.
Speaking to The Bhutanese on the discontinuation of the contract teachers, the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO), MoE, Sonam Wangyel said, graduates have more opportunities in other areas, and instead, the ministry is interested in creating job opportunities for high school graduates, who as teachers can serve the ministry for a longer time.
As an immediate measure to address teacher shortage, the ministry will now deploy the current pool of trained teachers spread across the nation, to schools that face teacher shortage. “In the long run this will help us to curb the shortage by re-deploying from schools where there are excess teachers, to schools where there are shortage of teachers”, said the CHRO, Sonam Wangyel. “Today we have shortage of primary school teachers, but the ministry is positive that the shortage can be met in the near future”, he added.
The recruitment of expatriate teachers for higher school level has reduced from around 60 teachers a few years back to only 10 in this year, as majority of the requirement was filled by national teachers. MoE hopes the shortage of primary teachers will see a similar trend. Sonam Wangyel added that even the schools in rural areas have just around 20-25% of contract teachers, and the rest of the teachers are the regular trained teachers.
Last year, more than 150 contract teachers from the second batch under the Light of Drukyul Project approached the MoE, to settle their grievances, and to negotiate terms which they felt were unfair to them like, not being allowed to sit for the PGDE due to the objection made by the Royal Civil Service Commission.
Also, under the Bhutan Civil Service Rules (BCSR) the contract teachers, as consolidated contract workers, are given a salary of Nu 10,000 with no incentives like, the difficulty allowance, especially needed for contract teachers who are placed in schools that are located in a distance that is five days walk from a road point.
The Human Resource Officer, MoE, Choden said, the ministry did put in a proposal to ask for the difficulty allowance, but Ministry of Finance (MoF) did not approve. “We even made presentations on it, but the MoF didn’t approve because it was not within the financial rules,” she said.
“The government is aware of this and is equally concerned, “said the CHRO, MoE, Sonam Wangyel. MoE in collaboration with Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) will take in the contract teachers who have extended their contract, for the PGDE in 2013, following some ratings. “We feel so lucky to get this opportunity after struggling and fighting for it,” said a contract teacher, Tshering Penjor.
MoE and RUB will also present the findings of a teacher projection needs. The two colleges for teachers’ training will have to then realign their courses and slots through the findings.