The review process will be open to parents and students besides experts 

Education: The school education curriculum will be reviewed at the national level in one-two weeks according to education minister Norbu Wangchuk.

Speaking to the media at the 26th Meet the Press yesterday, Lyonpo said that a conference would be held exclusively to review the education curriculum.

The ministry will be issuing a notification to all schools to conduct the curriculum review process.

“We would advice all our schools to organise a curriculum review conference because the teachers have the most legitimate feedback on our subjects since they are dealing with these subjects daily,” Lyonpo said.

The review will be done at three levels: at the schools, dzongkhags and the ministry. In the review conference, eminent people from the communities like parents and even students may participate.

“The expectation from this curriculum is that of a comprehensive feedback of all the subjects and aspects of the curriculum,” Lyonpo said.

The curriculum review report from the schools will then be submitted to respective dzongkhags, which will conduct another round of review with experts, educationists, parents and students. The reports from the dzongkhags will then be presented to the national curriculum review conference where subject experts will examine them.

The minister also reminded that curriculum improvement is an on-going process. Various textbooks are going to need improvement and updating at different stages of the teaching process, he said.

The ministry also acknowledged the National Council (NC) chairperson Dasho (PhD) Sonam Kinga’s recent feedback on class five and four social studies textbooks. “Feedback is an integral part of updating and changing curriculum,” Lyonpo said.

Recently, the chairperson wrote on his blog that textbooks being used in the schools are littered with mistakes from spellings and grammar to even facts. For instance, the chairperson pointed out that the class five social studies text book states that in the past, Bhutan was a monarchy.

“This sentence draws a comparison with the present as if to suggest we are not a monarchy today,” the chairperson wrote on his blog. Bhutan still is a democratic constitutional monarchy.

Another mistake pointed out is the Prime Minister’s name being spelt wrongly as “Tshering Tobgyal” instead of “Tshering Tobgay”, among other spelling mistakes like Gyalwong tshogde (National Council) for Gyalyong tshogde.

After finding such mistakes, the chairperson took it upon himself to review the textbooks and submit a report to the relevant agency.

The ministry has also been receiving such feedback through various other platforms. The ministry is going to review and process these comments through various parametres and aspects that need to be considered while building a curriculum.

“Then it will be seen when it is the right time to incorporate and make these changes, perhaps, some can be immediate while some might have to wait for a later date,” Lyonpo said. He acknowledged that there are several errors in not just the class five social studies textbook but in other subjects like geography, maths and history.

“Whenever the reprint is done, whatever errors are found are corrected immediately,” Lyonpo said.

People have also expressed concern over the standard of the curriculum and its vastness.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that though the government was aware of the need to improve the curriculum, it didn’t want to do it immediately. “But we will tackle the curriculum carefully and slowly without jumping to any conclusions without pretending to know, and exercising change without confusing our teachers and students,” Lyonchoen said.

In an attempt to improve the curriculum, the government has strengthened the Royal Education Council (REC). The ministry merged the Department of Curriculum Development with the REC to create an autonomous and dedicated institution empowered to focus on reviewing and improving the curriculum. “REC has started reviewing the curriculum,” Lyonchoen said.

Though the National Council chairperson’s post on social media alarmed people and the Prime Minister himself, Lyonchoen however assured that the overall quality of education isn’t as bad as it sounds. “While there is room for improvement in the curriculum the quality of education is not as bad as one textbook suggests,” he said.

On holding those accountable for writing and approving the error-riddled textbooks, Lyonchoen said the first thing is to get the facts right.  The government will examine the remaining 422 textbooks. “Just because we are embarrassed we are definitely not going to go on a witch-hunt,” Lyonchoen said, adding that curriculum development will take time.

“The government will take that required time to do due research and diligence so that we have a curriculum and textbooks to do justice to our children,” Lyonchoen added.

Meanwhile, the REC is also doing its bit to address the errors as and when the teachers point it out. “We are also coming up with an effective situational framework on curriculum development to avoid similar errors while reforming the social science subjects by 2017,” REC curriculum development centre specialist, Wangpo Tenzin, said.

Tempa Wangdi