KP Sharma

Despite the previous government’s efforts for 100 percent digitalisation in schools through the Digital Drukyul flagship programme, some schools still lack internet connectivity, a crucial element for digital learning.

According to the education ministry records, approximately 35.2 percent of schools in the country were without internet connectivity last year.

This breakdown reveals that 37.2 percent of public schools faced this issue, while 2.9 percent of private schools encountered the same challenge.

Currently, 89 schools, encompassing both government and private institutions, lack access to internet connectivity.

In 2023, a total of 544 public schools and 27 private schools had computers, indicating a gradual increase compared to previous years.

The average student-to-computer ratio in public schools was 10 students per computer, while in private schools, the ratio stood at 14 students per computer.

On average, there are 10 students per computer, showing promising improvement this year with the ongoing implementation of the iSherig ICT Masterplan.

The ministry aims to achieve a student-computer ratio of 1:10 for secondary schools and 1:30 for primary schools. This ratio is determined by dividing the total number of students in schools with computers by the total number of computers, excluding extended classrooms (ECR) from the averages.

Regarding computer labs, there are 280 in government schools and 21 in private schools across the country. The Digital Drukyul flagship project, approved during the financial year 2019-2020 with a budget of Nu 2.676 billion, includes eight projects, with the digital school project being a notable component.

However, effective implementation in remote schools faces challenges like frequent power outages, unreliable internet services, a shortage of computers, and insufficient budget allocation.

Officials at the Ministry of Education and Skill Development acknowledge these issues and commit to expanding and improving facilities in schools.

Addressing these challenges requires collaborative efforts from stakeholders such as the Bhutan Power Corporation, service providers, and the dzongkhag.

In the 13th plan, the government has allocated Nu 30,000 million for education transformation, including ICTization through model schools.

If fully implemented, the digital flagship could enhance digital teaching and learning in Bhutan, providing students access to ICT gadgets and enabling teachers to facilitate learning on new platforms.