With all the manifestos of the four parties unveiled, it seems all parties aim to improve the education system by increasing the pay and allowance of the teachers, professional development of teachers and reduction of teacher workload, doing away Saturday classes, and enhancing ICT education.
Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT)
Making teaching the number one profession with better equipped classrooms and inclusive education is the main agenda of DNT, whereby progressive learning will be the key focus.
DNT promises to offer a better pay and allowances for the teachers and more administrative and support staff to ease teacher workload.
One of main alternation the party pledges to bring in the education system is to remove the cutoff points for class X students to enable the continuity in studies until class XII. “This change would galvanize the entiresystem and change expectations, so young students stay on in learning beyond Class X, not just because it is compulsory, but because they can see the benefits,” states the party manifesto.
The party would also consider doing away with Saturday classes and examinations until class VI. The party believes that the school examinations do nothing to enhance knowledge, but it rather hinders the development and appreciation for learning, that should begin in schools and last a lifetime
Reviewing central schools and reopening strategic community and primary schools is also one of the commitments of the party.
In terms of facilities, each classroom would be provided a projector. “This will be backed by our free intranet and online data to enhance teaching so teachers can use modern technology to teach and demonstrate better.”
Other infrastructure development would be providing buses for every school and ensure transport for students in rural areas, providing heating and cooling facilities and providing adequate funds for buying teaching-learning materials.
The manifesto also touches upon establishing a university level college in Gelephug and enhancing ICT programs in schools.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
Education is at the heart of PDP’s agenda, states the party manifesto which will continue to invest in training and development of the teachers.
One laptop for every teacher and a minimum of 80 hours of professional development training to all teachers including teachers of private schools are in the pledge.
Raise in salary and allowances for teachers is ensured where the party shall also introduce homeownership programs for teachers.
Opportunities for Master’s degree, reducing workload, and teacher exchange programs with schools abroad, affordable government housing for teachers within the school premises would be ensured.
“We shall appoint Dzongkha language teachers in missions abroad and in places where there is high concentration of Bhutanese,” states the manifesto while the Research Endowment Funds to undertake action research for teachers will also be provided.
Education HR policy would be reviewed to facilitate smooth promotion while paid vacation for support staff serving in schools would be introduced. “We shall streamline services of ECCD and NFE instructors through salary raise and improved service conditions.”
The party pledges to establish a central school in every gewog, an Early Childcare and Development (ECCD) Center in every 1,044 chiwogs and one Special Education Needs School in every dzongkhag. “We shall not close down any school. Instead, we shall provide central school facilities to all primary schools” states the party manifesto.”
The pledge also ensures to establish specialized schools and promote autonomous schools to empower the school authorities for greater creativity and innovation in education practices.
For ICT enhancement, the manifesto highlights on setting up smart classrooms and intensify ICT in teaching-learning process and ICT integrated teaching pedagogy. “We shall connect all schools with high-speed Internet connectivity.”
The party also ensures that schools remain closed on Saturdays. Providing day meals in all the schools and providing safe sanitary pads for every girl student was also highlighted. The pledge also ensures upon installing heater and air conditioning facilities according to climatic zones for the classroom facilities.
“The party shall continue providing loan scheme for tertiary education with special focus on students from economically disadvantaged families and raise the stipends for tertiary education.”
Regarding curriculum, the manifesto assures align of curricula to the needs of the 21st Century economic realities, review on the examination system for schools, digitize textbooks and inclusion of technical and vocational education curriculum in the mainstream education. “We shall encourage creativity, project work, simulation as pedagogy of the 21st Century and continue promoting performing arts in our schools.”
Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT)
The party aims to fulfill the national primary enrolment rate of 100 percent by 2020 and increase the national literacy rate to 80 percent from the current 71.4 percent by 2023.
Maintaining schools in rural communities at least up to class VI, review and improve central school policy and establishment of Early Child Care and Development centers in every Chiwog is in their pledge.
Enhancement of service conditions and strengthening professional development programs, provide adequate teacher assistants and non-teaching staff to all schools to ease the service. The party pledge to maintain PD Programs to a minimum of 80 hours for every teacher and open exchange programmes abroad.
The stipend for boarding students shall be increased while the other pledges for students includes allowing one-time disqualified students from class X & XII to repeat as regular students.
The allowances for the teachers would also be enhanced while the education model of green schools will be revamped and strengthened.
The pledge touches on improving curricula, promoting life skills education, and encouragement to establishment of private schools through provision of tax holiday for ten years and other incentives.
The party promises to increase the transition rate from higher secondary to tertiary education to 50 percent and upgrade at least three selected schools to colleges. The stipend shall be increased for students within and for all ex-country scholarship programs.
The party commits to upgrade all existing Technical Training Institutes to Technical Colleges in a phased manner and establish at least one additional Technical Training Institute, while additional pool of 15,000 skilled workforce in the next five years would be created.
Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party (BKP)
To develop a comprehensive education policy for long-term self-reliance, BKP in its manifesto promises to revisit the Education Blueprint and redress curriculum.
The party promises to transform all schools, educational institutions and the classrooms into GNH inspired communities and train at least 10 percent of the teachers to be master teachers in GNH value.
Rethink education policy, early interventions, upgrade school infrastructure and facilities, redesign learning space for effective learning through technology and others, mid-day meals, transportation facilities, curriculum, teacher’s workload, student-teacher ratio are some of the concern of the party.
The party promises to make parenting education an essential part of education and up skill, motivate and invest in teachers through use of technology and knowledge and make values of honesty, integrity, hard-work and sincerity central to learning.
Another commitment would be to review the Central School Policy and retain existing community primary schools and extended class rooms in the communities where feasible.
The party also promises to recruit qualified and effective school leaders to transform the schools and encourage establishment of more private schools and colleges through the Economic Development Policy and Foreign Direct Investment policy.
Review and reform vocational training education to enhance skills development, promote skills in the areas of music, art, drama, poetry as part of mainstream education, and do away with classes on Saturdays in all government schools from PP to grade III is also highlighted in the manifesto.