A much needed reform begins

Yearender | Education: As the nation observed Teacher’s Day in May, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay flanked by other Cabinet ministers waited in queue to receive over 1,400 teachers at the Royal Institute of Management.

The event was a memorable day for teachers because it was first time that the education ministry organised an event to mark Teacher’s Day. That night, the Prime Minister along with education minister Norbu Wangchuk even sang to the delight of the teachers.

That night it was also announced the government had increased the budget for the professional development of teachers to Nu 116.8 million (M) from just Nu 8M in 2015 as part of Teacher Development Year.

Following the announcement, the ministry began training over 9,000 teachers from across the country on transformative pedagogy, introducing teachers to methods that engage students through interactive sessions against the conventional method of long tedious lectures.

Then came the ministry’s plan to reintroduce Shakespeare into the English curriculum despite some opposition from students, parents and even teacher’s themselves on the relevance of Shakespearean English today.

Glaring errors in school textbooks particularly factual errors, spelling and grammar mistakes in history and social studies textbooks led to the National Council chairperson Dasho (Dr) Sonam Kinga to raise the issue and even personally review and correct the errors.

Reports of more mistakes in the textbooks emerged raising the need for an urgent review of the entire curriculum. But before the National Council could present its findings of its review, the ministry announced a major curriculum review that would include teachers, principals, education officers, and even parents and students.

Within a span of three months, the ministry received feedback and recommendations from across the country.

The House of Review however at length deliberated a number of issues pertaining to the education system such as the curriculum, teacher workload, reinstating Dzongkha as a main subject and the central schools, among others. The House also deliberated whether the teacher training should be offered to only university graduates against the current practice of opening it for class XII graduates.

The National Education Conference recommended a number of changes at different levels of the education system. The conference resolved that every subject would have a national education framework, curriculum and digitalisation framework to strengthen the education system. It was also resolved that a comprehensive guideline for implementation of the curriculum be developed and adequate resources for schools also be made available to facilitate effective curriculum implementation.

The conference also recommended exploring options to do away with textbooks for subjects like world history because of the availability of resources online. One of the most notable issues deliberated in both the National Council and curriculum review conference was tuning the curriculum to the need of the job market.

Central schools however remained a contentious issue with it being repeatedly raised in both the National Council and Assembly pertaining to its sustainability.

Other major decisions included a change in the academic session, reinstating Dzongkha as a compulsory subject, and the endorsement of further training to improve the English language proficiency, among others.

Recently, over 200 wardens and matrons were recruited to be sent to schools across the country so that the teacher workload can be reduced.

Tempa Wangdi

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