MoESD Minister, Yeezang D Thapa

Voters ask PDP to keep its Saturday off promise

Teachers concerned over IWP

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) Minister, Yeezang D Thapa, provided an update on the Individual Work Plan (IWP) for teachers and the directive to keep Saturday classes off as the deadline for finalizing these decisions approached.

The MoESD Minister mentioned that the ministry carefully considered the pros and cons of eliminating Saturday classes and have submitted recommendations to the Lhengye Zhungtshog and the decisions made by Lhengye Zhungtshog will be the final decision.

Lyonpo said that one of recommendation is that classes 11 and 12 struggle to cover their syllabus, and so Monday to Friday are days needed solely to cover syllabus, and Saturday is to be kept for other activities such as awareness and advocacy programs.

Lyonpo said, “However, another response we received is that looking after the Boarding students will be challenging as there would be only a warden and principal to look after the students, so, our ministry suggested how about we keep Saturday as full day holiday and let them spent more time with their family members?”

The Prime Minister added, “In case of Saturday classes, we have to look into this directive very carefully, as the working committee along with two principals who participated into this decision making believes that keeping Saturday as a holiday will hamper in covering syllabus, and on top of that if Saturdays are kept off, the extracurricular activities have to be done in one of the days from Monday to Friday. If the syllabus, itself, is not complete, it is very dangerous.”

The PDP had pledged to do away with Saturday classes in its manifesto. This was a popular and easy to do pledge.

The apparent sign that this may not happen lead to a firestorm on social media with many people coming out to criticize the government for not keeping its promise and how Bhutan cannot manage in 5 days of class when the rest of the world is doing it.

The PDP government had gained a lot of popularity for its decisions and fast paced decision making after being elected. However, all of that goodwill was wiped out and the public mood turned really ugly. If the cabinet does not reverse the recommendation then it will be equivalent to political suicide at the beginning of its term and lead to massive loss of trust between the government and the people affecting various other aspects of governance and national morale.

The former Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk came on social media to say the cabinet has not taken a final decision yet.

During the discussions about IWP for teachers, a meeting was held with principals and teachers, where the MoESD Lyonpo, announced that there would be no changes to the existing plan.

Lyonpo said, “There is no reservations in IWP, according to our meeting, we have come to conclude that IWP will be kept the same as before. The only concern is Moderation Accessory (MA) and Partially Meeting Expectation (PME).”

Lyonpo highlighted that MoESD has submitted recommendations considering the importance of having complete staff in schools. The recommendation suggested that schools with less than 20 percent of required staff or those not meeting the staff strength criteria, not be marked under MA for not fulfilling the criteria.

Views from social media suggests that if there are no changes in IWP, individuals hope that the ministry allow them to do works related to their profession and not divert their mind unnecessarily.

Whereas, many other teachers raised concerns about the lack of improvement in the education system potentially leading to more teachers leaving the profession for opportunities abroad, particularly to Australia.

A teacher from an eastern dzongkhag said, “Even if there are no changes in IWP for teachers, I hope that every teacher’s performance is examined carefully and fairly. I hope no one receives extra or less if their grades do not match their performance.”

An interviewee said, “I wanted the Need Improvement criteria to be diminished as it demotivated me and my colleagues, seems like I will lose my interest into teaching even more.”

While many other teachers believe that if the ministry also allowed all the teachers to take part into filling survey questionnaires related to the recommendations, individual teachers could be able to share their views and the decision made could have been reconsidered.

The PM said, “We have received all the recommendations put forward for the 10 directives, and the finalization will be done by the Lhengye Zhungtshog. I am sharing this information as both IWP and doing away with Saturday classes is related to this, where the working committee which is divided into two has informed us about these matters, and we will reconsider looking into IWP.”

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