Children’s Parliament calls for changes in education sector

Democracy: Youth unemployment, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy, are some of the top agendas for the Bhutan Children’s Parliament (BPC) that started its formal session, yesterday.

BCP-National Assembly (NA) speaker, Tsheten Dorji said given the huge unemployment problem in the country, the members are going to deliberate the issue and look for solutions.

The members will also discuss the “one-teacher one-subject policy” where teachers’ should teach only subjects they are specialized in.

Tsheten Dorji said “one-teacher one-subject policy” will enhance professionalism as a result of which the quality of education will improve.

Today in many schools across the country, a teacher teaches many subjects regardless of specialization. It is mostly common in the schools where there is a shortage of teachers.

The members also said they will discuss the enrollment of children in government schools from age five. Members said it is time children are enrolled in school by age five and not six as currently practiced.

They also said that its unfair on the part of government to bar children who are not six from going to school when the children of teachers can begin school by age four-five.

The education rule does not allow children to enroll in school unless they reach the age of six but in some schools children of teacher aged below five are admitted.

Gelephu’s member of parliament (MP), Yeshi Jamtsho said they will try to identify the root causes of youth abusing drugs and alcohol. He said there are drug users as well as suppliers in Pelrithang Middle Secondary School. “As youth’s issues are better understood by youth, we will convey our issues to the government through this forum.”

Bumdelling MP, Dorji Tshering said to reduce the drug problem youth will be in a better position to find the solutions. He added that while the issue is being raised at the government and political level, the root cause is yet to be identified.

Gangzur-Minjey’s MP, Sherub Tenzin intends to raise the problem of walking distance between homes and schools. Citing an example of how students from Jang village in Lhuentse walk a minimum of two hours every day between home and school, Sherub Tenzin said the government should explore the possibility of providing buses.

Deputy speaker of BCP-National Council (NC), Thinley Namgyel wants to raise issues of sexual harassment and suicide in the schools and institutes. He said the BCP-NC will approach the issue in a holistic way.

The members also hope to deliberate child labour, sex education, improving computer and laptop facilities, rationalizing the teacher’s extra ordinary leave and sustainability of central schools.

The BPC-NA and BPC-NC sessions are being organized in two separate halls at the democracy house in Thimphu.

Yesterday, both the houses deliberated the Rules of Procedure of the Bhutan Children’s Parliament 2015 where they decided to hold the session every winter.

The BCP-NA finalized the duration of sessions from one week to two. However, the amendments will be passed during the joint session on January 7-8.

The proceedings of the BCP sessions will be submitted to His Majesty The King, Chief Justice, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Chairperson of the National Council, and Leader of Opposition.

Kabji-Talo’s Tashi Gyeltshen said the BCP is a platform where issues related to youth and national issues can be raised.

“As students our issues hardly reached the national level but now with this forum we have the right to raise it without having to root through bureaucratic procedures,” he said.

Tenzin Namgyel

1 reply
  1. irfan
    irfan says:

    This is so good to hear our youth discussing the problems faced by the youth at the first ever session of the Children’s Parliament. Some of the issues discussed and debated upon are well known anyway. But I would like mention this issue of ‘one-teacher one-subject policy’ for these young members to discuss going into details.

    As school students, education to our youth is about learning their subjects and to excel at them. So a specialised faculty of that subject is always preferable than someone teaching two or more subjects. But as we move up the classes only then we realise that all our subjects are related when it comes to applied science or applied arts or applied commerce. Not all of these students go on to becomes subject teachers or expert academic. Applied knowledge of the subjects matters whether it’s governance or business or any other entrepreneurial venture they consider for a career. So every subject these students learn has its connection in application of knowledge with all other subjects irrespective of the academic certificates they end up getting.

    So it’s a difficult situation as a specialised teacher can always teach his subject in real details leaving it for the wisdom of the young students to find application of the subjects in combinations. Objective of learning the subjects at school is not only about to excel in the exam of that subject. Our system has become so that we gain and deliver applied knowledge in numerous micro parts as specialised subjects. Still at school level till class X, we are still learning science, arts and commerce as three different general subjects along with mathematics and we learn that in as many as 10 different parts or classes.

    Still, I must agree with these young members of Children’s Parliament that the ‘one-teacher one-subject policy’ is required even at the middle and higher secondary levels. But as students in any class, they must be in a position to apply different subjects in combination. And for that, they need to maintain a balanced understanding of all the subjects. How to achieve that is probably a challenge for the education policy makers. Which can be considered a speciality between ‘one-teacher one-subject’ and ‘one-teacher multi-subjects/applied education’? Many of our school students fail to relate the subjects they are learning to anything more than the examination system. When some remain focused for performance or pressure from parents and teachers; a lot of them get involved in the bad and the wrong deeds. And our members of Children’s Parliament are already discussing them.

    With the joint-session of NA and NC to follow, I hope that these young members debate a bit more to reach the root causes of many issues that resulted from students losing interest in learning. At times, the sad scenario is such that the student is not good enough. On other occasions, the issue is with lack of ‘right-teacher right-method and right-subject/s’ policy. And then, collective learning never happens for applied education and knowledge in certain cases. But, it’s for these young members to debate and it will be great, in my personal opinion, if they can find a slightly different seating arrangement for a more involving discussion.

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