Some Private schools worry about quality while others feel it is a noble initiative

Reservations remain high among some private school owners and faculty members on the allotment of the class ten passed students in government and private schools, with the fee structures decided by the government.

Many believe the system will have negative implications, especially for the private schools.

Of the 21 private schools across the country, 15 private schools, however, accepted the offer made by the government.

The proprietor of Karma Academy, KG Wangchuk said that while the government has taken the decision with a noble objective, there will be an impact on some private schools. “For a good set of teachers, a good amount has to be paid and with the amount of Nu 30,000 which is much lesser than the actual fee, there is the budgetary impact.” He added this would definitely have a negative impact on the quality of education in private schools.

“The agreement with the government on fee structure didn’t come willingly, it was more of an obligation,” said the proprietor of the one of the private schools in the east, on the condition of anonymity.

“With the amount much lesser than the actual fee, we have no choice but to downsize the staff and we might also have to compromise facilities such as hostel meals and other activities,” he added. He said the school was allotted a lesser number of students than it actually retains.

“It was initially said that there won’t be cut off point but then those below 59.4 percent are placed in private schools is not a fair deal for the schools as well as for the students who should be given choice of schools, if the concept really is about not having a cutoff point,” said the owner.

“Several other problems, apart from fee structure is that some students from very far away places has been placed as day scholars, and I’m not sure how it will be managed. The distribution needs to be looked into,” he said.

Kelki School’s Proprietor, Dhendup Gyeltshen said the school was allotted with just over two hundred students which is much lesser compared to the maximum average of 350 students every year. “If we can charge our own fee structure, we would also face no problem in paying our teachers. It will be difficult to pay a good amount to good teachers which means the quality of education will be compromised.”

One of the six schools which rejected the governments proposal is Druk School. The school principal Tshewang C. Wangdi said the school, however, is not affected by the system. “This is because the school is very different from other schools and we have our own clientele.” She said the school has class ranging from PP till twelve which is one factor.

“We didn’t accept the offer because the number is not the question but it’s the quality in whatever sense”. However, she said those who chose to study in Druk School will be allowed with a top up amount upon the government rate.

A Vice-Principal in one of the private schools that rejected the offer made by the government said that the repercussion is in the quality of the private schools.

“This changes the whole market dynamics of the private schools. A teacher’s salary in private schools is not less than 30,000, so making a deal with the amount much lesser than actual worth is a direct impact on the quality of education,” he said.

“What is worrisome is dumping all the low performing students in private schools changes the whole scenario. Anyone who can afford to go to private schools won’t go because of the segregation. This I won’t say is a full scholarship, but the voucher to get to private schools,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Principal of Jamphel High School, Dago Tsheringla said the school happily accepts the offer. “The government is taking a new step for a cause and we are cooperating with the government because this is reducing social issues, at large.”

Pelkhil School received 100 more students this year from the actual intake. Principal Rudra Chettri said while there is no comment on the new moves in the education system, the school will have to procure additional resources such as textbooks for the additional numbers.

The proprietor of Norbu Academy said while it will be difficult on expenses, the quality of education will not be compromised.

Yoezerling School Principal Chencho Tshering said the government has given enough time for the private schools to think.

The Prime Minister (PM) Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said one of the main challenges for few coming weeks would be the allotment of students in private schools.

Of the 4,225 students in private schools, 2,300 are placed in boarding schools. The PM said few problems are bound to happen with those allotted as day scholars in private schools due to unavailability of the private school in every catchment area.  However, the PM said the selection for boarding was need-based which was chosen by the principal of the respective schools.

The Education Minister, Lyonpo Jai Bir Rai said the schools that rejected the government’s deal were highly capital intensive. “Their target client is different and they are designed for the well-off,” said Lyonpo.

Lyonpo said the rate announced by the government is fixed and no top-up would be done. “If the parents are willing to top-up to the offered amount by the government to study in the school of their choice, this will be allowed but the government’s rate is fixed”.

He said so far just around 20 have approached to change the school. “This means the allotment is done well because so much of study and effort has been put in allotting the students.

We could have comfortably implemented this move in 2021, but our main motive is to educate all despite some challenges being perceived,” said Lyonpo.

He said the students failing in the eleventh standard in private will not be paid by the government for the second year.  The budget for paying for fee is currently being managed from the underutilized budget of the ministry.

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