… in a bid to reduce the workload on teachers

Administration: Over 200 matrons and wardens, and atleast 402 support staff will be recruited to reduce the workload on teachers by sparing them from non-teaching activities, it was decided at the ongoing National Education Conference in Phuentsholing yesterday.

Education ministry’s chief human resource officer Kinley Gyeltshen said that the Royal Civil Service Commission has already approved recruitment of 200 matrons and wardens this year, and atleast 402 support staff in the schools in the next four years.

“Vacancies will soon be announced and the dzongkhag education offices can start the recruitment soon,” Kinley Gyeltshen said.

He shared this information during deliberations to reduce the teacher workload to 14 hours a week from the existing 18 hours.

While reducing the workload to 14 hours a week could not be endorsed, recruitment of wardens, matrons and support staff was endorsed as one of the measures to relieve teachers from non-teaching activities.

“Wardens and matrons will also take up the mess in-charge responsibility and health of the students,” Kinley Gyeltshen said, adding that between four-six supporting staff will be deployed to schools with over 100 students to lighten the workload on teachers  who are currently also responsible for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities.

The ministry’s objective is to provide adequate time for teachers to besides teach, also plan, assess and research so that quality education can be delivered.

Department of School Education (DoSE) coordinator of the school reform programme, Kaka Tshering, while presenting the report said that the move will allow teachers to spend more quality time with their families.

DoSE proposed to reduce the workload to 14 hours after finding out that teachers could not deliver the desired quality of education because of their daily 12-hour work day. “Our teachers are more bogged down from management and administrative works than the teaching,” Kaka Tshering said.

The report also stated that teachers are engaged in five periods of 50 minutes each daily besides their regular involvement in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. “Under the given circumstances, teachers hardly have time for lesson planning, assessment and research during school time,” Kaka Tshering said.

He added that teachers aren’t free even during recess because these breaks are either used for collecting notebooks for assessment or are engaged in sorting out disciplinary issues. “Therefore, teachers usually were found doing their planning and assessment works at home,” he said.

The study also found that teachers were engaged both on Saturdays and on government holidays preparing for various national and dzongkhag-level events.

However, reducing the teacher workload to 14 hours a week could not be endorsed with educationists expressing concerns that it will cause friction between the school management and teachers. “Under the present staffing pattern, if the 14 hours per week workload is endorsed, many teachers might refuse from shouldering non-teaching activities leading to more problems between the management and teachers,” Rangjung Central School principal Tashi Namgay said.

Moreover, even the ministry’s study found that reducing the teacher workload would not be possible immediately. “Under the existing staffing pattern and number of teachers available, achieving 14 hours a week will take at least four years,” Kaka Tshering said.

Kinley Gyeltshen pointed out that reducing the teacher workload to 14 hours would be a daunting task as there is a shortage of around 2,950 teachers today. “Recruiting these many teachers would take at least eight or nine years if we were to reduce the workload of teachers to 14 hours a week,” the chief human resource officer said.

Instead, he said schools should continue with the 18 hours a week workload while attempting to reducing it to 14 hours gradually.

Meanwhile, education minister Norbu Wangchuk asked the dzongkhag and thromde education officers, and principals to review  activities in the schools. “You must go back to the schools and find out if some of these activities are really required,” Lyonpo said.

The “One-subject, one-teacher” policy will first be implemented from the secondary level and gradually applied at the primary level, Lyonpo said.

Tempa Wangdi