Textbooks ridden with mistakes are a problem. And we are talking about the declining quality of education.
The real problem, however, seems to be that we are so uncomfortable accepting our flaws. Such thinking will not take us anywhere.
The good news is that the Royal Education Council is making efforts to correct all the mistakes in the textbooks. Leaving it on teachers to make correction as they teach is risky. Substandard textbook contents can destroy a generation of learners.
At the recent education dialogue with the minister of education, we looked at the future of Bhutanese education system. What did not come out straight, alas, was the shape of the future itself. There was the talk of 21-century education, but we really need to understand what it means.
Our schools have to have ready classrooms and textbooks relevant to the changing times. The education ministry is talking about instituting a system where there would be no textbooks at all. The idea looks and sounds interesting. But are we ready for it?
What this idea calls for is a revolutionary change. Our teacher training system needs to change. Have we looked at it? If we haven’t, we should. Do we have libraries where our children can find what they need? If we haven’t yet, time has come for us to build them. We may be looking at harnessing the power of technology to deliver lessons, but have we made services available to all the Bhutanese?
Thinking for change is good, but our vision must not lose relevance.
The need of the hour is to look inward and move on one step at a time to improve. How do we make our classroom education more pertinent to the issues like employment, for example? What does young Bhutanese gain from learning about the Maasai Herders of East Africa that is not there anymore?
The real challenge we have today is to educate our children in the way that it prepares them to face the world out of classrooms. Dreams do not have to be necessarily lofty.
We may be thinking about going textbook-less, but what is more important is that we give our children at least information that is free of mistake.