Education: Agriculture for Food Security (AgFS) will be introduced as an optional subject for classes XI and XII from the next academic year.

It will be offered as a vocational subject.

“The subject is not a new idea but AgFS is a new subject for classes XI to XII,” Royal Education Council curriculum specialist and AgFS in-charge, Wangchuk Rabten said.

Last month a team of subject specialists from the agriculture ministry, education ministry and Royal Education Council reviewed the AgFS content at Paro. Specialists from sectors like forestry, livestock and agriculture attended the review meeting.

Agriculture and forestry ministry school agriculture programmes coordinator, BB Rai said while some content like plant protection was added, those with no relevance in the context of local agriculture were removed.

“Plant protection through effective micro organism technology was included since the students would need this idea to fight back pests and diseases in their vegetable gardens,” BB Rai said.

The consolidated curriculum will be handed over to the education ministry for further directives.

The Agriculture for Food Security subject is part of a curriculum diversification effort with an objective to improve relevance of secondary education. The subject was approved in 2010 and was started in 20 schools initially from 2013.

According to the Royal Education Council, the subject provides basic knowledge, skills, and values of integrated farming like forestry, agriculture and livestock. The subject focuses on vegetable production, dairy, poultry, piggery and horticulture.

The subject is also framed in a way to enable students to learn storage, preservation of indigenous food crops, nutrition value and organic farming.

While the subject was introduced in class XI in 2015 and XII in 2016, the plan is to expand the subject as optional in other higher secondary schools.

As of now only 39 higher secondary schools like Bayling in Trashi Yangtse, Damphu in Tsirang, Nangkor in Pemagatshel, Rangjung in Trashigang, and Taktse, among others, have been introduced to the subject. Currently, 2,200 students are taking the optional subject from classes IX to XII.

“We have been piloting for class XI and XII for quite sometime. Next year we are planning to expand to other higher secondary schools in the country,” Wangchuk Rabten said.

The subject will be submitted to the education ministry after its consolidation. “Once the curriculum board approves it, it becomes mandatory for the Royal Education Council to develop a curriculum and the ministry will implement,” Wangchuk Rabten said. “The AgFS curriculum will be ready by end of June 2016.”

Diversification of curriculum in secondary education is conducted with the aim to provide more opportunities for students. The AgFS curriculum will also equip students with ideas on agriculture for food security to promote self-reliance, sustainability and self-employment in the agriculture sector.

By offering this new curriculum, students will also get better chances to qualify for higher studies in agriculture diploma and degree courses in the College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan and universities of SAARC countries.

Tempa Wangdi