KP Sharma

As class 10 graduate students across the country prepare to enrol in Class 11, those qualifying to pursue Arts stream find themselves in a dilemma. The admission criteria allow them to pursue only Arts, while the Arts stream has been discontinued in some tertiary education colleges, and even scholarships reduced.   

The ministry says that it will strictly adhere to the admission criteria for each stream to ensure that students take courses by their academic achievements.

As per the ministry’s criteria, students planning to pursue science must have a minimum of 45 percent in mathematics and 55 percent in science, with 51 percent each in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Those interested in studying commerce should have a minimum of 40 percent in mathematics, and students holding pass certificates are directed to enrol in the arts stream.  

As a result, going by this criteria, many students by default, would end up opting for Arts stream leading to concerns of discouragement and demotivation. But following the discontinuation of Arts courses in some tertiary education colleges and a reduction in the number of ex-country scholarships to art students this year, parents and students were hesitating to enrol in the Arts stream, being concerned about their future opportunities.

Then there was widespread speculation among the public that the ministry would consider allowing students to choose streams based on their interests and prospects.

Sangay Thinley, a class 10 graduate in Thimphu said that when students choose arts despite being aware of limited opportunities, it could foster disparity and stigmatization of Arts students within the school. 

“How can teachers effectively encourage these students to study hard when the perception of limited opportunities already exists?” he said.

Leki Tshering, a recent class 10 graduate in Chukha, said that it is unwise for decision-makers to discontinue certain courses while simultaneously encouraging students to enrol in courses that directly impact their future.

An Arts teacher stated that following the discontinuation of cut-off points, low-achieving students typically opt for arts. This posed a challenge for teachers, as these students often lacked interest in their studies and joined schools merely to enhance their qualifications.

The teacher added that now dealing with students who already feel hopeless can be challenging, making it hectic for teachers to motivate them and achieve good academic results.

“In the end, individual subject performance is crucial for teacher’s evaluation,” he said. 

Earlier, an official from the education and skills development ministry said that despite encouraging students to take up mathematics and raising awareness about the true prospects, no major changes have been implemented so far.  

The decision to discontinue the course was part of a broader transformation, impacting certain student sections at a considerable cost. 

Unlike in the past, the government will not offer scholarships to private schools. 

With a new government in power, there is an expectation among the public for the government to address these issues for the greater benefit of the people.

While the government had issued directives to address various issues confronting the education sector, it was uncertain if the matter regarding Arts course would also be included.