Discussion sparks need for more colleges with the country

Whether Zhemgang could have a college in the dzongkhag in the 12th Plan will be finalised when the Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk meet the local government officials after the parliament session.

The local government, through the Pangbang representative Dorji Wangdi, requested the parliament to see the possibility of a college in one of the poorest dzongkhags in the country. Members deliberated the issue on Wednesday.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that being one of the least developed dzongkhags, 126 houses in the dzongkhag were gungtongs or left empty households because of rural urban migration hampering socioeconomic growths.

He added that although there have been developments in different fields, education is important to bring development. “Therefore, Zhemgang is suitable and has an  opportunity for the establishment of a new college,” he said.

However, the minister proposed establishing a college in a different location rather than upgrading the Zhemgang Center School. The plan has to get the green signal of the Royal University of Bhutan. “The proposal will be discussed with the LG of Zhemgang during my visit after the National Assembly session. There is a possibility of starting it in the 12th Plan.”

The proposal at least received good backing at the Assembly when about 21 members who spoke supported the proposal. Pangbang MP shared his gratitude on behalf of the people of Zhemgang for taking the proposal in consideration.

He informed the house that the international secondary to tertiary transition rate is at 60-70 percent, while Bhutan’s was only 30 percent.

Citing Sherubtse and Gaeddu colleges as examples, he said such establishment will help development and economic growth.

Opposition Leader Pema Gyamtsho said that proper study and research has to be done so that the college benefits the six eastern dzongkhags. He suggested letting the private sector start a college. But the suggestion was cut short when the Pangbang MP clarified that the people of Zhemgang wanted a government college where admission and accommodation is free.

Sergithang-Tsirangtoed MP Novin Darlami pointed out that there was the need of specialized college in accordance with the demand from job market. He said, “There are needs for colleges specializing in the field of survey and technicians and in modern medical science.”

Meanwhile, the discussion sparked more discussion on new colleges in the country with MP asking for colleges in their constituencies. The Khar Yurung MP proposed Yangbari as a potential area for a college. Nyishog Saephu MP Kuenga proposed upgrading the Bajo Central School to a  college, a request he said was from the Wangdue DT.

Drukjeygang MP Karma Dorji proposed the relocation of the college at Tsirang, while the Khamaed Lunana MP Pema Drukpa proposed for a college in Gasa.

Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji and Lamgong Wangchang MP Khandu Wangchuck said that such agendas are unsuitable to be deliberated and should be proposed during the 12th Plan.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that there are about 600 schools in Bhutan with 171,817 students.  Of this, only 15,171 qualifies for tertiary education. 11,383 get into colleges within the country, 867 are sent on government scholarship to study outside the country. The remaining 2,924 are either financed by their parents or relative to study in neighboring countries.

“Therefore, it is the sole responsibility of the present government to look into the potential and capacity of setting up more colleges within the country,” he said.

Tashi Chophel