Yangchen C Rinzin

The Ministry of Education has released about 100,000 CodeMonkey user accounts for students across dzongkhags. 

The dzongkhag administrations are supposed to invite school administrations and release codes  to each school. By now all the schools should have created usernames against each student to give them access to the CodeMonkey site. 

Most schools across dzongkhags have rolled out the use of CodeMonkey after creating usernames for students.

However, many schools are yet to implement CodeMonkey, especially schools in rural parts of the country, including a few in Thimphu. The students have not yet received the codes; some schools are yet to receive codes.

A principal in Tsirang shared the school had no information as to when the school would get the codes.

Many schools said the lack of computers, ICT teachers, and ICT laboratory hindered the implementation of CodeMonkey.

In remote areas, the lack of proper internet facilities is acute.

Internet speed in schools is the principal problem that affects the rollout of CodeMonkey.

The education ministry’s plan was to roll it out from August in all lower secondary schools, middle secondary schools, and higher secondary schools.

CodeMonkey is a popular online platform that offers paid coding lessons through games.

Many teachers say that CodeMonkey could not be implemented right away because teachers, especially focal teachers are yet to be oriented with CodeMonkey.

“Everything is set up and username is created but we’re not able to implement because of the internet,” a principal in Chukha said. “The internet GBPS that we receive in the school can support only three computers when we have 155 classes VII-VIII students.”

Lack of computers, apparently, is not a major issue in schools. Some school also received additional computers.

Some parents shared that even if schools lack ICT equipment, schools should at least share the username with students so that they could learn from mobile phones with guidance.

MoE working on filling the gaps

An official from the education ministry said that plan is to implement the CodeMonkey from the second half of 2021 academic year, based on the feasibility with respect to computer labs and connectivity in schools.

“But CodeMonkey will form part of the ICT curriculum for Classes VII to VIII, which is why it is compulsory to implement for these classes from this year,” the official said. “For the rest of the classes, it will be a supplementary learning.”

The official added that this time CodeMonkey was optional for Classes PP-VI since lower secondary schools usually do not have IT labs. “But we have released the codes so that those who have labs and computers can implement while we’ll work to fill the gaps for the remaining schools. It’ll be compulsory for all Classes PP-VIII from 2022.”

“If schools don’t have computers or internet, they could still create username and issue to students so that they can use through other options,” the official added. “We’ve already instructed that students could be given CodeMonkey courses to explore on their own.”

The education ministry has identified about 120 laboratories that need to be either remodelled or constructed. The ministry has constructed around 33 labs so far.

The ministry has supplied about 4,696 computers to all primary schools and extended classrooms that do not have ICT infrastructure.

A total of about 3,420 computers have been distributed to secondary schools of 15 dzongkhags or thromdes; about 2,900 more will be distributed to secondary schools of remaining dzongkhags or thromdes.

“This year, we’ll have to fill in all these gaps so that we’re ready next year for successful implementation,” the official added.

The school that has rolled out the programme successfully shared that it has benefitted the students and they have developed an interest in coding significantly.

Internet enhancement for ICTisation

An official from the Department of Information Technology and Telecom said that the department through Digital Drukyul Flagship is building optical fibre infrastructure to identified schools and other government offices to facilitate high-speed internet connectivity.

The target, he said, is to construct about 2,500km of optic fibre links. As of now, about 500km have been completed.

“However, we’re planning to complete the optic fibre works by end of this year,” he added.

Additional reporting by bureau reporters

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk