Education: In an effort to take the number of central school to 60 by the end of the 11th Plan, the government will open eight more central schools beginning the next academic year.

Currently, there are 51 central schools in the country.

In his State of the Nation report, Lyonchoen said that government has set aside Nu 2.976 billion (B) on central schools this year.

Lyonchoen said that although it is expensive it was worth investing in central schools, as rural children will benefit from it. “The positive side of this initiative is that it will be cheaper in the long run for the government as there will be less school to look after. Quality of education will improve significantly,” lyonchoen said.

There are 171,402 students in 539 schools today, of which 136,557 are outside the four thromdes of Thimphu, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Samdrupjongkhar. It is estimated that it will require 120 central schools, which means 60 more central schools will be required in the 12th Plan.

“Establishing central schools in rural parts of the country will help our rural people,” Lyonchoen said. “Children studying as dependents in urban schools can move back to rural areas and stay closer to their homes.”

Lyonchoen added that the existing system will continue in urban areas and thanked local governments and communities for supporting the development of central schools.

There are currently 35 private and 504 government schools in the country, not counting the 96 Extended Classrooms that are often managed by a lone teacher.

Lyonchoen said that with so many levels of schools spread widely over the country, most students change schools several times in their lifetime. Similarly, teachers also look for transfer given the hardship they have to undergo or smallness of the school where they are placed.

“Under such situations, it becomes challenging for the government to hold anyone accountable for the poor quality of education,” Lyonchoen said, adding that this was why the government had to establish central school so that limited resources are consolidated and shared.

Lyonchoen said that under the central school system schools will have adequate teachers and students will not have to move from one school to another. “Both teachers and students will be able to feel and share a sense of belongingness to their school.”

Lyonchoen also said that the government’s decision to increase tax-deductible ceiling for educational expenses from Nu 50,000 to Nu 150,000 a child per year will help parents send their children to the best private schools.

Kinga Dema