The quality of education has been our perennial concern. As Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering aptly pointed out, the nation boasts an admirable teacher-to-student ratio, yet educational quality remains compromised due to various challenges, including infrastructure limitations. To tackle these issues and pave the way for a brighter future, the standardisation of schools as proposed in the 13th Five-Year Plan is a substantial step forward, but it must be part of a broader strategy.

Bhutan’s educational landscape has unique characteristics that distinguish it from many other nations. The emphasis on holistic and values-based education is praiseworthy, which aligns with the philosophy of GNH. The country’s curriculum has traditionally included not only academic subjects but also cultural, ethical, and spiritual education. The challenge now lies in balancing tradition with modernisation.

Standardisation can indeed help address some of the issues facing our education system. It can ensure that all schools, regardless of their location, have access to a minimum level of infrastructure and resources. This is vital in a country with diverse geography, where some schools are in remote areas with limited facilities.

However, the path to improving education in Bhutan requires a holistic approach—standardisation alone is not a panacea. It must be coupled with other strategies to elevate the quality of education across the nation.

The heart of any education system is its educators. We should invest in comprehensive teacher training programmes that enhance pedagogical skills and align with our values-based education goals. Continuous professional development can ensure that teachers remain well-equipped to inspire and educate the youth.

The curriculum must evolve to meet the needs of the modern world. It should include not only traditional values but also modern subjects, such as technology and vocational training. A balance between tradition and progress is key.

While standardisation can help, specific attention should be given to improving infrastructure in remote areas. It’s essential to ensure that every Bhutanese child, regardless of their location, has access to a safe and conducive learning environment.

Engaging parents and communities in the educational process can significantly enhance the quality of education. It promotes a sense of shared responsibility and encourages active participation in a child’s learning journey.

Establishing robust assessment mechanisms can help monitor the effectiveness of reforms. Accountability measures should be in place to ensure that the education system is delivering results.

In the digital age, integrating technology into education is essential. It can bridge geographical gaps, provide access to a broader range of resources, and prepare students for the demands of the 21st century.

All these are being done, for which we must praise the education ministry and officials, but clearly, we can do a lot more.

Our pursuit of quality education should be seen as an investment in the nation’s future. Education not only equips the younger generation with the skills and knowledge they need, but also shapes the nation’s trajectory. As Bhutan navigates the challenges of the 21st century, it must continue to uphold its cultural values while embracing progress.