Education: In a move towards preparing students better in classrooms, so that they are exposed to varied fields of study, the department of curriculum, research and development (DCRD) is working on diversifying subjects that are taught in schools.

About a decade ago, besides compulsory subjects (English, mathematics, history, geography, science and Dzongkha), optional subjects were limited for classes IX, X, XI and XII.

Students in boarding schools can now opt for agriculture and food security, and environment studies, which were introduced this year.  Beginning next academic session, students will be taught media studies.  Other new subjects introduced were health and physical education and vocational trainings.

Although health and physical education was introduced a few years ago, it didn’t pick up and was revised to make it teacher friendly and reintroduced this year.  Schools were notified early this year that the subject be treated as important as any other subjects.

The department recently completed reforming science subjects for classes VII and VIII.  While classes IX and XI’s science is currently being revised, class X and XII’s subjects will be reformed next.

Chief curriculum (primary) officer at DCRD, Bhoj Raj Rai, said, although students are exposed to various subjects, a lot more needs to be introduced and reformed in the coming years.

“We require fairly qualified professionals to revise some subjects, so we have to outsource some,” he said. “Yet, primary level analytical curriculum is challenged by language.”

To ensure that teachers deliver the subject to students as intended, DCRD had recently proposed to the education ministry to train only graduates as teachers in specialised subjects and not general.

Citing an example, officials said, if a teacher trained to teach science teaches English, justice would not be done for the subject in terms of delivery.

Chief program officer at DCRD, Norbu Wangchuk, pointed out that curriculum is diversified and reformed to align with the mandates of the education blueprint, which enables students to be able to face critical and analytical questions.

Skill-based questions were included in model question papers since last year, but the questions would be improved to test students’ critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, reasoning and innovation, among others, starting this year.

He also said that there was a need for a strong body to monitor subject delivery by teachers.   For that, during the Royal Civil Service Commission’s recent organisation development (OD) exercise, it was proposed that education monitoring and support service division be just a monitoring body.

“When a same division monitors and supports, conflict of interest is inevitable,” he said.

Another division, teacher professional support division is likely to be created soon.

By Nirmala Pokhrel