The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) manifesto has articulated a holistic and ambitious education reform agenda. The manifesto addresses the challenges posed by the prolonged closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting a comprehensive strategy aimed at revitalizing the nation’s education system on multiple fronts.
At the core of the PDP’s vision is the restructuring of the school system. The proposal includes the establishment of Central Schools, designed as residential boarding schools, providing not only education, but also essential resources such as free meals, uniforms, stationeries, and bedding. Additionally, the manifesto advocates for Chiwog Schools, integrating Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) and classes from PP to III. The aim is to create safe and engaging learning environments, decongest classrooms, and empower schools with fiscal discretion.
Recognizing teachers as the backbone of the education system, PDP prioritizes their well-being and professional growth. Key initiatives include a commitment to providing teachers with a minimum of 80 hours of annual professional development training, opportunities for study tours, and a rationalisation of their workload. The manifesto also outlines measures to enhance teachers’ research capabilities, prioritize homeownership programs, and ensure a healthier work-life balance.
Acknowledging the pivotal role of support staff in schools, PDP proposes a review and establishment of their roles to prevent overburdening. The manifesto advocates for para-regular employment status for support staff, ensuring they receive the same service conditions and benefits as regular employees. Paid vacations during school closures and a focus on their well-being reflect the party’s commitment to fostering an engaged and motivated support system within schools.
PDP’s commitment to a responsive curriculum is evident in its advocacy for the adoption of international curricula, such as Cambridge and the International Baccalaureate, especially in private schools. The party emphasizes the need to grant teachers greater autonomy in developing their lessons within the curriculum framework. Specialized schools for STEM, Sports, Performing Arts, and Vocational Training are proposed, aligning the curriculum with the evolving needs of Bhutanese society and the global landscape.
In the realm of tertiary education, PDP aims to revise faculty promotion criteria under the Royal University of Bhutan, encouraging in-country tertiary education programs, and granting greater autonomy to tertiary institutions. The manifesto also supports faculty exchange programs, continuous professional development, and the establishment of a college in Tsirang through a Public-Private Partnership model, reflecting a comprehensive approach to tertiary education.
In essence, the PDP’s education manifesto paints a comprehensive picture of a future in Bhutan where education is the cornerstone of progress, equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary for the challenges of the 21st century. As the government commits to these transformative measures, Bhutan’s education system stands composed for a rejuvenation that will have far-reaching positive impacts on the nation’s future.