Report recommends revamp for education system

The Bhutanese academic training grounds in the fullness of time has become a repeat-monologue of ‘teacher-led chalk-and-talk’ session which stretched from inception till date.

The results of a researched study conducted by iDiscoveri, a social enterprise in India, in collaboration with education entities in Bhutan revealed that performances of most of the students are ’below expectations on both basic and advances academic skills and lack basic communication and analytical skills’.

The set of findings related to quality of outcomes and learning processes across schools in Bhutan indicated a big gap between the two.

“We recommend that Bhutan needs a comprehensive reform effort to bridge the gap between the current set of challenges facing its school system and the lofty aspiration it holds,” stated the Report.

The report further stated, “while this gap is indeed wide, we have reason to believe that it can be bridged; through a thoughtfully designed and carefully implemented reform effort”.

Many students, the findings revealed, lacked minimum expected competencies in core subjects at their grade levels as well as to understand core concepts and apply knowledge to real life situations across grades and subjects.

Extensive field study in schools found cross-cutting patterns in children’s learning, classroom practices, school processes and the education support system.

The findings on different outcomes in various schools showed that students in private schools were better compared to students in community primary schools. Also, the graduates in the country were found to lack basic analytical and communication skills and the attitudes needed as entry-level professionals.

The study found private schools and some government schools demonstrate better student performance, greater instructional leadership by the principal and visibly better teaching practices in the classroom.

The report states, effective school conditions can be created in Bhutan by putting capable school heads with disproportionate energy in academic improvement, developing passionate teachers to engage each child effectively in class and schools given autonomy.

According to the report, lack of proper instructional resources and lack of real measurement of learning is observed in most classrooms while there is also a lack of essential infrastructure, design and resources to ensure a comfortable and engaging environment for students and teachers in many classrooms.

The prevalent method of one-way ‘talk’ resulted in lack of feedback and active participation in the classroom.

On the same lines, schools were found to lack quality processes for developing teachers’ capacity, the autonomy and resources to initiate academic improvement and the essential physical infrastructure to support learning.

“Despite proper system on school’s side, there seem to be gap in implementation towards performance of the students and teaching quality,” the report stated.

The report states, connection between school and home are weak, with many un-met expectations from both sides. It recommended strengthened supporting systems for schools in the areas of teacher preparation, curriculum standards, resources and the incentives for quality.

It also states that low academic and professional standards for entry into teaching are the major constraints in the system.

The presence of curriculum goals, standards and enabling processes were identified as vital ingredients to provide coherent educational programs.

“We also discovered that there is evidence that better outcomes, quality practices and innovative initiatives exist in small ‘islands of excellence’ within Bhutan,” stated the report.

It is said attempts made in the past at reforming the system failed due to lack of clear and shared goals and objectives for the system, command, control and compliance mindsets and paucity of resources and implementation support.

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  1. Ho hum…boring! So what’s new? It’s easy to carry out studies and come up with 101 recommendations to improve the education system.  But in the end, nothing’s that easy to implement and the results, even if REAL measures are taken, are not going to be achieved in a dramatic and flasy way. Look at the attempts made to reform the system with the introduction of NAPE back in the 1980s.  It was a brilliant idea that would have revolutionized our education system and had we been successful, we would be reaping rich rewards by now.  But it was soon realized that in order to implement it successfully, you needed highly skilled, well trained teachers.  It understandably flopped.  In the end, it’s the steady and unglamorous steps which the RGB must take more of, to improve the lot of the teachers – better incentives, better training, better management, and so on, which will yield results.  Nothing else.  And please stop taking knee jerk responses to some imported ideas.  Look at the mess such decisions made of the RCSC.  Because of sloppy manner in which the so-called Position Classification was adopted, the morale of the civil service is arguably at its lowest ebb. As they say in Hindi, “akal me bhi nakal chahiye.” – translated it means – even to copy, you need brains.
    Let’s stop jumping at whatever some fancy sounding group from abroad tells us to do and instead, believe in our own ability to come up with home-grown solutions to our unique, home-grown problems and challenges.

  2. i agree, the problem lies in basic core abilities of the teachers. But there is little you can do about that because the teacher needs are too much and too few good ones available. Systemic changes to the educational system is going to bear little fruit if this problem is not solved first. 

    But giving additional benefits to teachers is probably not going to improve things either. Additional benefits or salaries must be given to encourage better teachers, but it should not be given to everybody. It must be given to those who are better. Otherwise it will have zero impact in terms of motivation, which is one of the goals of better salaries. 

    In a sense I have very little faith that leadership for improving education quality can come from the government schools. There is just to much bureaucratic luggage for that to be possible. It can and will come from private schools who are struggling to survive and therefore have to think and work harder to get ahead. The report already confirms that generally the private schools are doing better. Given some more time, there can be more innovation from the private sector.

    I don’t think they need to really innovate new ideas as such. If they can just do the basic things better like recruiting better teachers, paying them better, and simply teaching better in the classroom. These basic things are not happening in the govt schools today. 

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