Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk highlights ‘three pillars’ education strategy

Workload for teachers to also be reviewed

The recent cabinet reshuffle saw the announcement of the transfer of the Minister for Economic Affairs Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk to the Ministry of Education after the voluntary resignation of the current minister Lyonpo Mingbo Dukpa.

The new, to be appointed Education Minister, acknowledged the large amount of work done by Lyonpo Mingbo Dukpa so far.

Talking of his own strategy, he said it would consist of three critical pillars of schools as an institution, teachers and thirdly the curriculum.

Apart from the three pillars the minister in response to questions also talked about his stand on corporal punishment, what should be done about increasingly spoilt behavior by the youth and also on how he plans to work in the ministry.

The minister also announced that one of his first tasks was to assess the work burden on teachers as he felt that they are being overworked.

“First of all one needs to appreciate that education is a powerful force and one cannot think of any other force as powerful as education that would prepare us for the future,” said Lyonpo.

The minister said that as a society an enduring aim has to be to achieve excellence in education.

Coming to the three pillars Lyonpo said in the first pillar the school must be made conducive for learning with a proper environment, which would entail both physical infrastructure as well as proper social and emotional aspects.

He said that there should be competent governance of schools to ensure well being of all. Lyonpo pointed out that within the schools leadership matters and so there would be a continued effort to make principals play the role of facilitators, motivators and friends to students and teachers.

On the second pillar he said that the teachers are the ‘foot soldiers’ and ‘critical players’. He said they should be provided with the required knowledge and skills in areas that are most current to motivate and raise the morale of teachers.

The minister said that continuous efforts must be put into ensure that the third pillar of curriculum is robust, relevant and right for Bhutanese children.

As a priority the minister  will review the workload of teachers as he feels teachers are overworked.

“They have to stand and take lessons for four to five hours after which they have to prepare the next day’s lessons and then also take part in various other extracurricular activities,” he said.

Lyonpo said that if teachers are overloaded it would have implications on their morale and teaching also.

He said that the other immediate priority would be to also review the curriculum and through a validation process see whether it is relevant enough or right.

On corporal punishment the minister said the stance of the MoE would not change as no one has the right to inflict physical or emotional pain on another. He said that teachers need to be led into others means of disciplining students.

One much discussed issue has been on the quality of teachers and how a number of them got into the profession as a last option.

In response to a question on the issue the minister said that his own impression is that generally teachers are committed and motivated.

“Whatever way they come in but being absorbed into the teaching fraternity they develop and love and passion for teaching and interestingly a lot of our teachers have a lot of yearning and zeal to learn so that they can become better teachers,” said Lyonpo.

He said there is a great demand to re-skill, update and train themselves but he said that demand has not been adequately catered too.

The minister said that he does not bring any extraordinary talent or knowhow and would not able to perform miracles.

Another issue is that as Bhutanese society gets more prosperous there is a penchant to ignore or spoil children leading to bad behavior by children

The minister in response to this said, “Our teachers are competing with forces outside the school which are impacting the minds of children and so if the teachers are to win then they must be helped by parents and society in general.”

He said that education is not only in schools but also at home and all areas of society. The minister quoted an African proverb which says that it takes an entire village to educate a child.

Lyonpo said that his management style would be to be open minded and believe in the experience and expertise available outside him.

He said it would be his priority to see how best he can use the expertise available within the ministry.

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