Bhutan’s school system has long been beset by a teacher shortage. Many say that this has resulted in a drop in educational quality. This issue has now reached a tipping point, as a growing number of Bhutanese leave the nation in search of better possibilities, exacerbating the scarcity and leading to a serious neglect of students’ classwork and other assignments. Immediate and long-term solutions are essential to secure a better future for our children.

In the last five months alone, 531 instructors have left their positions. This extraordinary departure is more than just a temporary glitch; it is a problem that requires quick attention and action. What is causing our instructors to leave? Are we investing enough in teacher education and professional development? Teacher education and professional development have always been given top importance in the country. Our connections and relationships with prominent international institutions and organisations demonstrate our desire to develop a strong and forward-thinking education system.

Bringing in teachers from India is not a viable option. It may, in fact, aggravate the situation. While the government’s efforts to attract teachers from India, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), may appear to be a positive step, they raise a number of serious concerns. Offering these foreign instructors a salary that is significantly more than that of our own dedicated teachers is not only discouraging, but also a slap in the face to our Bhutanese professionals. It sends a message that their tireless efforts are insignificant and unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, such a stark discrepancy in pay would weaken the motivation of our local teachers, worsening an already dire shortage.

Our educators are abandoning our system in pursuit of better possibilities, safety, and support, which our system is unable to deliver. The solution lies outside of the system. Teachers are still abandoning the system despite the fact that incentives and rewards are in place. It is critical that we recognise, honour, and provide a stable path for our teachers’ long and dedicated careers. It is only natural for them to seek greener pastures elsewhere if they are denied a feeling of security and a hopeful future at the tail end of their career.

Bhutan’s education system is at a critical juncture, with the teacher shortage crisis and declining quality of education threatening the future of its youth. By implementing the aforementioned solutions, including investing in teacher training, strengthening incentives, enhancing recruitment strategies, promoting vocational education, strengthening teacher-student relationships, and embracing technology, Bhutan can pave the way for a sustainable and high-quality education system. The government, education stakeholders, and society as a whole must come together to address this pressing issue and secure a promising future for Bhutan’s children.

Bhutan’s education system is at a crossroads, with a teacher shortage issue and falling educational quality endangering the country’s children. To address this serious issue and ensure a bright future for Bhutan’s children, the government, education stakeholders, and society as a whole must work together to bring out sustainable, long-term solutions.