While a commendable progress has been made in education system over the years and is very close to achieving universal primary education in a current scenario, the main question, however, has always been on the quality of education and training in country.
Numerous studies highlighted the shortcomings in both learning outcomes and skills. “While accessibility has improved significantly, various studies have pointed out the need to urgently address issues around the quality of education”, states the 12th plan report.
The report pointed out that in a diagnostic standardized test conducted in 2008, it was found that a student learning outcomes were below the minimum expectations of their grade levels and are unable to perform basic numeracy and literacy tasks. “Majority of students were unable to understand core concepts and apply knowledge to real-life situations across grades and subjects.”
Similarly, the report says that the findings by the education ministry showed that children could not master the curriculum within the prescribed time, resulting in high primary school grade repetition.
As per the Programme for International Student Assessment for Development (PISA -D) Report, 2018, it was found that while students in Bhutan in general have higher success rates in items requiring lower cognitive skills, a significant gap exists in performance in more demanding tasks.
“Overall, it was concluded that that Bhutanese students have performed at par with top PISA-D countries but significantly below Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.”
‘Quality of education and skills improved’ is one of the seventeen national key results areas (NKRA) of the 12th plan, aimed at achieving excellence in student learning outcomes comparable to leading international standards while also reflecting the country’s rich culture and traditions.
Bringing the quality education and skills development refers to early childhood care and development (ECCD), general education, technical and vocational education, tertiary education, and non-formal and continuing education.
Some of the strategies outlined in the 12th five year plan to address the challenges and achieve the key result area have been identified in trying to create pathways between mainstream and vocational education, revamping technical and vocational education and strengthening value education are alsosome of the identified strategies.
Some major programs highlighted in the 12th plan to achieve the key result area includes quality and inclusive education improvement through consolidation and decentralized system, enhancing teacher development and support and improving equity and quality of tertiary education.
Improvement in quality and relevance of school curriculum and implementation, enhancing the quality and standard of examination and assessment systems and enhancing quality and relevance of school education are also some of the major programs in the 12th five year plan.