Education policy Dzongkha curriculum questioned

The existing shortage of teachers, need of professional teachers in the subject, insufficient Dzongkha teachers and lack of interest from students were some of the reasons why the ministry of education could not consider the National Council’s recommendation to teach Bhutan history and other local subjects in Dzongkha.

Education minister Norbu Wangchuk said this was based on the feasibility of teaching Bhutan history in Dzongkha and it was found that most students had difficulty learning history in Dzongkha, which he said was a concern.

“The subject was rather taught as Dzongkha language instead of teaching history and the general teachers could not teach history as expected without Dzongkha teaching skills,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk was responding to a question from Bumthang’s National Council member Nima during the question time on May 19.

“In order to teach history in Dzongkha, we need professional Dzongkha teachers and neither are the students ready to learn history in Dzongkha,” he said.

Council member Nima had asked when the government would initiate a study to determine the feasibility of teaching Bhutan history and other subjects in Dzongkha. He said the research carried out by the Paro College of Education in 2008 had shown that there were students who agreed the subject was more understandable when taught in Dzongkha.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk also added that it would require time to change the curriculum and that there is a need to discuss the issue between colleges and schools should the change be implemented. Lyonpo added the recommendation has been submitted to the Royal Education Council to study the feasibility of teaching history in Dzongkha.

The Council member also asked for justification on the irrelevance of Namthars and Legsheys and how subjects like Shakespeare plays have contemporary relevance to the Bhutanese society.

Lyonpo said that research on the Dzongkha curriculum has shown that Namthars and Legsheys did not support the development of Dzongkha language and was discontinued in 2009.

According to the research, Lyonpo said, that the two texts were taught like religious discourse that did not give students the required education. It was also found that with many students coming from different religious background, it was found challenging to teach these texts.

“But we’ve kept the Namthar books as reference and supplementary in libraries for students while important part of Legsheys are consolidated in subjects from class IX to XII,” lyonpo said.

The minister said that consultation with teachers, students and parents in 2016 for the research also didn’t recommend the need to incorporate these texts in the curriculum. He added in the new curriculum, topics like lozay, tsangmo and songs have been included to improve spoken and written Dzongkha skills.

Council member Nima also said that a special drafting committee was formed in the education ministry to review the draft national education policy and other relevant policies. He asked why the government was taking time to finalise the policy?

“The ministry is implementing programs even as the policy is still in the draft form,” he said.

In response, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said the ministry is still in the process of drafting the policy by consolidating all existing policies and guidelines on education.

Nima said the education ministry had planned to provide English and Dzongkha language proficiency programs this year, which gave 40 hours of professional development program.

“But this would provide only 50 percent of the minimum requirement of 80 hours by the teacher HR policy 2014,” he said. “How would the government ensure that all teachers receive 80 hours of professional development as per the policy and fairly?”

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said the government has allocated a budget of Nu 117 million and that they have already conducted a pedagogy training last summer where teachers received 40 hours of training. The same training would be conducted this year to meet the policy requirements.

Lyonpo also said that the Royal Education Council is in the process of improving the current procedural and framework of curriculum development, in response to how the government was ensuring that the curricula remained updated.

“We as politicians cannot interfere with curriculum development and it should be left to the Royal Education Council, which is already working on it,” he said.

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