With the removal of Arts and Humanities programs in government colleges, a majority of the students who have passed class X are rushing to take up the Science Stream in class XI and XII. A very minimal number of students have opted for the Arts Stream this year.
According to an official from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD), many students are opting for the Science Stream compared to the Commerce and Arts streams this year because both the students and parents are worried that there is no scope for Arts students in the future.
Even students good at Arts subjects are now opting for the Science Stream, and even the students that scored 40 marks in Mathematics are keen to take up the Science Stream.
In the past, a ranking system was followed, where students required a minimum of an aggregate of 55, and a compulsory score of 51 in each subject.
The official said, “There are students who qualify for the Science Stream, but due to limited seats and securing lower marks in the merit ranking, they are not qualified since there is a benchmark set for it. The merit list is based on the projection done according to the number of seats available in the schools. Schools will project as to how many students can be enrolled in Science, Commerce and Arts streams, and based on that the ministry will set a minimum benchmark.”
Many students and parents are unaware of the limited seats in the Science Stream.
Even if the schools reduced the sections in Arts and Commerce and increased sections in Science, there are not enough science teachers to go around.
Apart from the shortage of science teachers, there will be a shortage of classrooms, and teachers of Commerce and Arts will have no subjects to teach.
For instance, four high schools in Thimphu Thromde have seats for 500 students in the Science Stream, where the average marks are not looked into, but the marks scored in Mathematics and Science subjects will be added. The students will be ranked in a descending order of merit. Similarly, the same ranking system is followed in the Commerce Stream.
“If there are students in other dzongkhags applying for the Science Stream in Thimphu then there are no seats available at all. To fill the Science Stream, the schools will look into marks scored in Mathematics and Science subjects,” said the official.
There have been students scoring good marks in Mathematics and Science but opting for the Commerce and Arts streams earlier. But students are now unlikely to make such a choice due to the removal of Arts and Humanities courses in the government colleges.
To address this, MoESD is looking at combined subject courses. For instance, in the past, economics subject was optional, but looking at the new courses introduced by the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), the ministry will work on the changes in the Arts students to create opportunities.
“We are discussing and might hold a discussion with RUB for Mathematics and Economics to be included, and ICT too, in the Arts Stream,” said the official.
The current Arts students who could not get into the government colleges are from the Arts without Mathematics background. So, MoESD and RUB plan to take a relook at the curriculum for the dry Arts students.
Also, the ministry is requesting all the district education officers and schools to encourage Science students to take up Mathematics and Economics as compulsory subjects in classes IX and X starting this year.
Meanwhile, MoESD is exploring other options for the Arts students in the country.