The Prime Minister, during the meeting with the Association of Private Schools (APS), had announced that for the 2020 academic session, the government will provide 2,700 students to the private schools.
The schools were asked to either choose a revised fee structure of Nu 35,000 per each day-scholars and Nu 60,000 for each boarding student, which was approved by the Ministry of Education (MoE) or Nu 40,000 and Nu 70,000 with the condition that the differential amount of Nu 5,000 shall be given as an increment for the teachers as proposed by APS.
All the private schools decided to accept students at Nu 40,000 and Nu 70,000 agreeing with the condition offered by the Prime Minister, but private schools said that the differential amount shall not just go to teachers alone but to all the staff.
Last year, when the government’s cut off policy was introduced, the government requested private schools to take students at Nu 30,000 and Nu 50,000 and private schools agreed because the schools were assured by the education minister that this fee structure is for just one year and is subject to revision.
General Secretary of APS, Tshering Dorji, said that the revision does not necessarily mean little bit of capping here and there. He said private schools have to do well to stay in business.
GS said, “If we look at the existing fee structure of private schools, on an average private schools charge Nu 40,000 which means most private schools have fees of Nu 40,000 although some schools have fee higher than that. So we decided to propose 40,000 and 70,000.
He said, “We decided to agree to the Prime Minister’s condition because we thought that even a little benefit for our staff is worthwhile. Private school owners are aware that teachers in private schools are paid less compared to government’s schools, and with the recent pay raise for teachers in public schools, we are worried about the formidable gap between public and private school teachers.”
He said that, technically, schools are agreeing to the fee structure of Nu 35,000 and Nu 60,000 which the ministry has approved because Nu 5,000 will go to the staff, and it makes sense because if the teachers are benefitted, the school will be benefitted as well which seems to be the only option at the moment.
The GS also said, “The private schools also discussed on not taking any students at all, and withdrawing from the full package, which is some form of protest, But, at the same time, we were worried that if we decide not to take any student then what will happen to these 2,700 students? We don’t want our society to pay for this.”
“Even without this package, one to two private schools are bound to suffer a natural death though we don’t know which schools that would be, but if there was open competition, good schools would do well and schools that were already under distress might collapse. Schools that are good should be protected. We are here to compete, and competition should be done in a healthy way. But because of this package, schools that are doing well might die down and schools that were already under distress might thrive,” GS said.
He said, “It was also not right for the Prime Minister to say that he has planned to send all the students to Dratshang schools, if his initial plan didn’t work out. The Prime Minister, in his earlier statements, talked about the standard, quality and doing good for the students which we are in favor of, but after having said that, it is hypocritical to say that he has plan B that is to send student to Dratshang schools. The Prime Minister said that even if the school capacity is not meeting the requirement, the government could have gone for constructions and cramped all of them there. And what would private schools do after that?”
He said that the government has not done proper studies, and now government is trying to cover up their faces with lots of lies and fake justifications. He said the government is doing something to protect the system or the future of Bhutan, it will definitely benefit the future of Bhutan. “It is good to go all way out and make so many sacrifices and do anything to protect it. But if the government has no intention of doing that but to only cover up the mess, then people won’t respect them,” he added.
“At the moment most of the proprietors have given up, and they are waiting for the eventual death to come to them. In Bhutan, people are still very law abiding and they don’t want to protest even though it impacts them very badly, but will this remain if they are constantly faced with problems and challenges? Government should not take them for granted,” he said.
The government will open online registration for class X for 2020 from 4 January 2020.