The Opposition has said that the government’s recent announcement that B.Ed course would be discontinued from the second year of the 12th Plan was ill-conceived and shortsighted policy.

A press release from the party stated that the overall quality of education would suffer in the long run as the policy would adversely affect the quality of basic education.

“This will also mean closing the window of alternative opportunities for class 12 graduates to choose and pursue career as professional teachers,” it stated.

B.Ed, the party stated, was a tried and tested progamme and had served its purpose exceedingly well and that B.Ed teachers today form the backbone of the education system in general and teaching fraternity in particular. “As such, B.Ed programme instead needs to be further strengthened.”

The party added that life-long learning is an indispensible part of professional and career development. “Therefore, postgraduate courses, both short and long term, including masters programme should be accorded the highest priority for the professional and career advancement of teachers as well as for enhancement of the quality of education.”

Education Minister Norbu Wangchuk said that the proposal was part of the government’s commitment to raise the quality of education. “If we are serious about the quality of education, we have to raise the quality of teachers because teachers are at the centre of the education system.”

“We are convinced that having a master’s degree would benefit our teachers and the education system. Right now, we are dealing with problems of teachers’ morale, that they are not happy and not satisfied. This is a major issue to address,” the minister said.

One of the several reasons behind lack of satisfaction, he said, was lack of opportunity to enhance their skills and opportunity to upgrade their qualification. “And, of course, there is this physical discomfort and disparities.”

Upgrading the qualification, he said, would enhance the confidence of teachers and address the problem of teacher shortage. He said a qualified teacher would earn the respect of the society and the teachers themselves would feel good about their master’s degree.

“Every teacher aspires to enhance their qualification at a certain point of their career and when they take off to pursue master’s programme, we suffer a shortage of teachers. This proposal will help address the teacher shortage to a large extent,” the minister said.   “We have 3,000 graduates passing out from colleges from within Bhutan and outside who would look for employment opportunities. It is a worthwhile career we believe graduates would take up.”

The government, he said, estimated that Bhutan would need about annually 400 teachers in the coming years.  According to the proposal, selected graduates would be sent for an M.Ed programme in teacher training colleges. and required knowledge.”

The minister said: “There will be fine teachers for the 21st century. We have come of age. Our education system has improved over the years and we are ready to take this big jump.”

The government, he said, was not worried about the policy affecting employment opportunities for Class 12 graduates as they would be encouraged to take up an alternative TVET education programme, which he said would be a major thrust area in the 12th Plan. 

However, he added: “If the new government feels that this is an ill-conceived idea they should shoot it down.” 

MB Subba