The issue of national language’s declining quality is likely to be tabled in the upcoming Parliament session

Language: The social and cultural committee of the National Assembly (NA) is consulting stakeholders on the quality of Dzongkha language to table the issue for discussion in the upcoming Parliament session.

Following directives from the last NA session in May to review the shortage of Dzongkha language teachers in some Dzongkhags and excess in others, the committee has approached several institutions to discuss the issue and find possible solutions.

The committee yesterday met representatives from the Dzongkha Development Commission (DDC) and other relevant authorities.

Welfare Legal Service’s Namgay Phuntsho said the popular usage of English language in the country has overshadowed the national language. “Today most official meetings are conducted in English. The mode of communication in meetings such as meet-the-press sessions are also in English,” he said.  “Priority should be given to the national language in such high official meetings. Examples should be shown by the policy makers only then could we promote our national language.”

He said the biggest concern is not in speaking Dzongkha but in writing and reading it. While children today are picking up the English language faster than any other foreign language, Dzongkha is being sidelined. “Both languages need to develop at a similar pace,” he said.

DDC’s representative Ugyen Dorji said a language law needs to be put in place to promote the national language effectively. “A policy that will guide in the effective implementation of Dzongkha language in the country is needed,” he said.

The representative added that DDC today has become a mere publishing house, documenting Dzongkha books entity. “Once the policy is in place, a concerned authority should be in place to monitor and see its implementation done to the maximum ability,” he said.

He also suggested that extra Dzongkha lessons be added in school syllabus to generate more interest among the youth towards Dzongkha. The History subject for class seven and above which was translated in Dzongkha should also be revived, he said.

A Dzongkha teacher from Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School, Dorji Gyeltshen said most students lose interest in learning Dzongkha after class X since the subject doesn’t offer much opportunity in the student’s higher education. “There’s no much job opportunities after studying Dzongkha,” he said. “Most of the Dzongkha graduates land up doing other works that requires English.”

Earlier this year, the Royal Civil Service Commission announced 50 slots for B Ed Dzongkha. According to data with the education ministry, there is an excess of 154 Dzongkha teachers and a shortage of about 150 in the country as of May this year. In all, there are about 1,200 Dzongkha language teachers in the country.

Younten Tshedup