One teacher resigns every two days in Thimphu 

Dechen Dolkar 

More than 345 teachers have left the profession in the past six months resulting in an acute shortage of teachers in the country and concerning parents of children’s education.

Head of schools and dzongkhag education officials are worried about finding replacements for subject teachers.  In the past three years, from 2020 till mid-August this year, 710 teachers resigned from the system excluding those who availed of extraordinary leave (EOL). Out of the total, 504 teachers resigned voluntarily, 136 teachers superannuated, 37 resigned with an early retirement scheme, 30 were compulsorily retired and three were terminated. 

According to the education ministry’s annual report, 163 teachers resigned in 2020. The attrition rate was 1.9 percent. Out of which, 112 resigned voluntarily. In 2021, 353 teachers resigned increasing the attrition rate to 3.8 percent. That year, 224 resigned voluntarily.

According to the ministry’s record, from January to June this year, 345 teachers resigned across the country. Of the total, 133 regular teachers resigned voluntarily, 138 teachers went on EOL, 51 contract teachers resigned voluntarily and 23 teachers superannuated. 

The record shows that the maximum number of teachers resigning is in the prime teaching age, between 31 and 40 years. 172 teachers in this age group resigned. It also shows that many teachers are availing of EOL.

As per the Thimphu thromde’s record, from January till yesterday, 127 teachers resigned including those on EOL and those who retired. Out of the total, 65 applied for EOL and 53 resigned. Past record shows that around 60 teachers resigned annually. However, the number doubled in the six months this year.

“In the last six months, we received one resignation letter every two days,” said a thromde official. 

The repercussion

The thromde education official said that there have been pressing issues as the teachers leave in the middle of the academic session and the trend is increasing. 

Thimphu thromde wrote to the education ministry and Royal Civil Servant Commission (RCSC) expressing the concern about the increasing number of teachers resigning. The first letter was written on July 4 and the second on July 27, after the issues were raised during the fifth thromde tshogde (Council meeting).

The Thromde requested the ministry to retain teachers and address policy issues since the teacher attrition rate was increasing every year. Currently, schools and thromde are recruiting teachers on contract to fill the shortage. However, the official said that because of the RCSC protocol it takes at least two months to recruit teachers and place them in the schools. 

“Sometimes it is very difficult to get the right candidates and some candidates withdraw after the recruitment,” the thromde official said. Kuensel did not name the official fearing repercussions from RCSC.

Some school officials in thromde office are worried since they are facing an acute shortage of teachers. “Recruiting teachers on a contract is risky as they are not trained and experienced. It may affect or compromise the quality of education.”

Worried and desperate, the thromde requested some teachers to stay till the end of the academic year when they came to apply for resignation. 

Some schools in the capital refused to reveal the number of teachers resigning, worried that the parents might be concerned. It is already worrying parents. “How can we ensure good education if our children are taught by temporary or substitute teachers,” a worried parent said. “The government should take this issue seriously.” 

Another parent said that while Australia provides an opportunity for Bhutanese, the impact would be on our future generation. “We cannot have a future generation taught by desperate unemployed university graduates looking for jobs.”   

According to the education ministry’s record, 39 teachers in Punakha resigned in the past six months, followed by 36 in Trashigang, and 34 each in Paro and Samtse.  Thimphu, Samdrup Jongkhar and Wangduephodrang saw 24 teachers resigning in the last six months including those on EOL.

An education official from Punakha said that although they could recruit contract teachers, it was very difficult to get teachers for important subjects like mathematics and science.

“In some schools, we have attached a mentorship programme. A new teacher can learn from the experienced teachers about the teaching methodology,” the education official said. 

In one of the schools in Dagana, the IT teacher recruited a few months ago on a contract will resign soon and leave the school without an IT teacher.