For indeed the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
The idea of central schools was good, of course. The implementation of it was not. Far from it.
It would inevitably have been brought to the table. And here it is. The government has said that central school system is being studied. Gross National Happiness Commission is also fully in the picture.
If the plan was to increase the number of central schools in the country, we may be at the right time to pause and rethink.
As the Foreign Minister said, central school system needs some serious makeovers. For one, it wasn’t planned well. And then the implementation of the system was hurried. Educationists were not fully in favour of the idea. The complications that resulted from unnecessary rush can be heard from the teachers and schools every day.
In the past, at one point of time, the government said that although expenditure on students and teachers increased with the central school system, it wasn’t something to be worried about because there were benefits to be had.
And then we saw the benefits in real terms. Some central schools did not have enough teachers and caregivers. Others suffered from inadequate resources that were promised such as uniform and mattresses besides other requirements like classrooms and basic necessities like toiletries.
When media raised the issue of small children and their care in the central schools, education ministry and some officials launched attacks in a way it was simply incomprehensible. We are a nation of people who cannot take criticisms in our stride, but when we are dealing with something that is so important as education and the long-term future of our nation, such theatrics and fatuity do not help.
Improving or bettering a system is desirable, always. What we cannot afford, though, is gilding the lily. This is what exactly happened with the idea of central school.
Because backtracking is not an option, the new government’s vision for education of our children and the initiatives to raise the standards of Bhutanese education system in the context of the rapidly changing world and evolving employment opportunities will be tested.
Central schools can be central schools all right, but we must have the heart and intelligence to look at the elements contributing to the falling education standards and a large number of teachers leaving the system every year.
More importantly, our senior bureaucrats and civil servants should be able to question ill-advised and superfluous interventions from political parties.
We look to the government to correct the central school system because there are serious flaws in it that could affect the long-term future of the nation.