Education ministry is facing a shortage of 571 Dzongkha teachers.

This was revealed yesterday at the opening of the 19th National Education Conference (NEC) in Phuentsholing.

Officials say they would reduce this shortage to about 50 by the end of the 12th Plan.

The shortage is mainly attributed to a policy shift in the education sector when in 2017 during the 18th NEC, the ministry decided that only a Dzongkha teacher could teach the subject.

Prior to this change, general teachers were also allowed to teach Dzongkha.

The ministry’s chief human resource officer, Dhendup Tshering, said it was decided that trained teachers should teach Dzongkha from Classes PP to XII.

“Trained Dzongkha teachers were not required to teach Dzongkha for Classes PP to III before,” he said.

Although the requirement increased, he said the ministry has not left the classes empty.

“Those general teachers not trained in Dzongkha and still teaching were allowed to continue as an interim measure,” the chief HRO said, adding that they would be replaced gradually with trained Dzongkha teachers as per the availability.

“Until we get trained Dzongkha teachers, they would continue to teach,” Dhendup Tshering said.

However, the ministry has been sending Dzongkha teachers to schools that are in critical need of teachers. Recently, the ministry sent about 50 national contract teachers and 88 last year.

The chief HRO said that the ministry would not recruit Dzongkha teachers at one go because that would undermine quality. He said eventual recruitments could also bring in more skilful Dzongkha teachers and it is not advisable to fill in the entire requirement at a time.

As EVS subject was done away with, its essential components were included in English and Dzongkha, which increased the number of hours Dzongkha is taught. This requires more Dzongkha teachers, the chief HRO said.

The education ministry has asked the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) for an intake of 100 PGDE teachers this year for 2019 batch, an increase from 35 in 2017. These teachers would be trained by 2020.

“We have to pursue this policy of trained Dzongkha teachers teaching the subject,” Dhendup Tshering said, adding that it is to enhance the quality of the subject.

Meanwhile, the 19th NEC, themed “Redefining Education: Towards Quality and Inclusive Education,” would see various issues being tabled for discussion.

Phasing out examination for primary classes, waiving of cut-off point for Class X, school reform programme, creating diverse education pathways, and development of iSherig 2 are some of the main issues that would be covered in the five days conference.

Group discussions were conducted and the suggestions from them would be discussed and presented in the later days of the conference.

Education minister Jai Bir Rai said important resolutions would be made.

“It would certainly have useful outcomes that would have major impact in education system and the country,” the lyonpo said. “We are going to discuss pathways beyond five years.”

Stressing on the vision of education ministry “an educated and enlightened society of GNH,” lyonpo Jai Bir Rai said it was important to keep in mind the vision everyday.

“Our society should also know about this vision and it is important the society educates our children,” he said. “If we work together, education quality would improve.”

About 173 educationists comprising of dzongkhag and thromde education officials, principals, vice principals and teachers are attending the conference.

Rajesh Rai  | Phuentsholing