Coinciding with teacher’s day on May 2, the education ministry launched the Bhutan Professional Standards for Teachers (BPST), a framework for development of teachers.

The BPST categorises teachers into four career stages – beginning, proficient, accomplished, and distinguished.The categorisation would be based on the seven standards, which are further divided into 37 focus areas.

Education minister, JB Rai, congratulated and thanked teachers who made efforts in honing the students’ lives. “We are hopeful that the effective implementation and assessment of BPST will bring great development in the education sector.”

Chief programme officer with the teacher professional support division, Tashi Lhamo, said that in the past, teachers were only categorised based on the number of years they served. “The BPST would measure the competencies and practices of teachers to improve the quality of education.”

She said that teachers would be provided allowances based on the proficiency level, adding that the fourth pay commission also recommended allowances for professions like teachers. “The framework would likely retain and attract good teachers in the system.”

The seven standards include diversity of learners, learning environment, content knowledge and pedagogy, planning and teaching, assessment and reporting, personal growth and professional development, and professional engagement and Bhutanese values.

Education ministry officials said that these standards carry the essence of educational philosophies of child-centeredness, inclusivity, life long learning, and Bhutanese culture and values.

The task force members have been working on the framework since 2017.

A press release from the ministry stated that according to studies, among many factors that influence quality of education, teacher quality was the most crucial. “The standards make explicit teacher’s knowledge, skills, and values required to achieve professional competence which would eventually enhance the quality of education,” it stated.

(Deputy chief programme officer, Rinchen Dorji, said the proficiency levels of career stages will b aligned with existing position classification system.) “As the BPST is based on competence and performance, it would be mostly self-assessed. During the orientation, it would be discussed on how to go about the measurement and assessment of the standards. Focus group meetings would also be conducted.”

A majority of teachers in the country need to be at the proficient career category as it is the acceptable level, he said. “It was developed to streamline the responsibilities of teachers as there was no clear cut responsibilities defined in the past. It will bring back teachers into the classrooms.”

Tashi Lhamo said that in a way, it would also help people look at the profession differently. “There is a perception that the profession is taken as a last resort. However, not anyone can teach children. BPST is not something to be alarmed about.”

She said that although teaching is a noble profession, the attrition rate has increased over time. “We need to align the standards with the individual work plan and performance appraisal. Lot of works needs to be done but we are glad that this initiative would help teachers who are motivated and hardworking.”

As teaching becomes more challenging over time, she said that the initiative would help improve the quality of education.

From May to December, visits would be made to schools for feedback on the development of tools and on how to go about measuring the competencies.

The framework aspires to engage teachers to embrace professional learning and provide framework for uniform measures to assess teacher performance, among others.

There are about 9,000 teachers in the country. As part of the celebration, about 35 teachers from across the country were selected through lucky draws. These teachers will have an opportunity to go on a study tour.

Rinchen Zangmo | Tsirang