Schools are operating in difficult circumstances. It is not as if other sectors are not affected in these very challenging times. But we are thinking about the lives and future of thousands of Bhutanese children who had to go through a totally different education system, one which we are yet to perfect.
Changes will have to come in the system to keep up with the time. There have been significant changes, yes—our children cannot pass the exams just because of continuous assessment. Children must do equally well in continuous assessment and exams. This is indeed a very good change.
Looking holistically, we want our children to do well in all aspects of human development but academic weightage is still very important. In this sense, there is a need to reduce the weightage of continuous assessment. With teaching-learning styles evolving rapidly, not to mention the influences of the fast-changing technology, we have quite a lot to do.
Character and emotional soundness of our children are important but they are not the final parameters to measure the value of each individual in school.
We have the vision, but that is not going to be enough. Vision is just the sense of direction. What we need is the drive to get there.
It will not be easy to change the system overnight. For that we will have to disrupt the whole system.
What we need is to bring a subtle change in the system to let it become more open to new ideas and methods.
Information technology is one. We are looking at roving around the space and designing sophisticated communication technology. Yet our children do not have the facilities and expertise to guide them to these awesome dreams.
Agriculture is another. Bhutan must be food self-sufficient. However the governments define self-sufficiency, we are falling far too short. And the implications of this will be serious in the nation’s long-term future.
To put it simply, and again: food self-sufficiency is independence. An independent nation can chart its own future more comfortably.
And there is nation-building. We come back to building human resource—education of our children and the future of our country.
Covid-19 or otherwise, our education system must not suffer.
Peace and security, stable government and our long-term vision—let them not go to waste. Investment in education should be heavy. A lot of other things can be taken care of easily.
The time has come for Bhutan to focus on education development seriously. We are in the run. Because we are in the run already, we must win. Education should step up to the challenge of the time.