Education: The dzongkhags and thromdes of Samtse, Thimphu and Zhemgang are considering recruiting contract teachers as substitutes for teachers on maternity leave.

Earlier in June, the ministry instructed dzongkhags and thromdes across the country to consider recruiting contract teachers to replace teachers on maternity leave.

This move comes after the education minister Norbu Wangchuk, last month, reported in the National Council that the ministry is in talks with the royal civil service commission to approve recruitment of contract teachers to substitute those on maternity leave. The minister also reported that around 80 female teachers were on maternity leave.

The ministry with the commission has also drawn guidelines on recruiting contract teachers.

As instructed, Zhemgang has already asked its schools to submit a list of teachers on maternity leave. “We have asked the schools to submit the list of the teachers currently on maternity leave and those who are expecting to be on maternity leave, to ascertain how many would actually be going,” Zhemgang education officer Karma Wangchuk said.

Though the dzongkhag is waiting to compile the final list, the dzongkhag is going to start recruiting contract teachers at the earliest. “As and when they submit the requirement we will start recruiting as soon as possible,” Karma Wangchuk said.

Samtse education officer Karma Sonam Chophel said: “We’ve been unable to plan anything as of now because of rain and floods but we have the need of seven-eight teachers to replace those on maternity leave.”

As of now recruitment is pending until the teachers return from on-going training on transformative pedagogy and the area returns to normalcy from rain and floods.

Thimphu thromde education officer Dorji Wangchuk said the dzongkhag is still doing its needs assessment. “It is estimated that around 20 teachers are on maternity leave currently and would be recruited as per the respective school’s need,” he said.

The thromde will start recruiting by next month after receiving the needs assessment reports from its 19 schools.

While retired and experienced teachers remain the preferred choice of the schools, the educational institutes could also recruit fresh university and teacher graduates. “We will contact retired teachers in the dzongkhag if any available, otherwise, we would have to recruit fresh graduates,” Karma Sonam Chophel said.

While the guideline states that a school can recruit a teacher on contract for 10 months, the schools will decide on duration depending on the nature of shortage. “I think the duration of contract will be subject to nature of shortage and number of teachers on maternity leave and those of expecting in schools,” Karma Sonam Chophel said.

When asked if hiring contract teachers will adversely affect education quality, education officers opined that having contract teachers would still be better than leaving the classes without a teacher. “Something is better than nothing, so having teachers on contract will be better than letting students go untaught,” Karma Sonam Chophel said.

Dorji Wangchuk said that while the thromde is worried about the impact on the quality of education and academic performance, adequate measures are in place to ensure that  quality does not suffer. “As has been the practice from before even now the senior teachers will guide the new teachers in teaching, assignment and in preparing lesson plans,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Tempa Wangdi