Subjects like History are going textbook-less

Textbooks filled with errors are being shared on social media sites and have become the subject of discussion among educators and parents.

The director of the Royal Education Councel, Kinga Dakpa, said textbooks are being reviewed, revised, recitified, and contents are being updated.

“We try not to have errors in the textbooks but, sometimes, it is unavoidable and there are various reasons,” he said. “Most of the textbooks have errors in the older edition, which some schools are still using.”

Recently, executive director of Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB), Needrup Zangpo, shared snapshots of mistakes in Bhutan Civics.

At an educating dialogue on Wednesday, Kinga Dakpa admitted that even the newer versions of textbook could have errors. He said teachers are supposed to correct errors.

Explaining on why the error could have occurred in the old editions, Norbuling Rigter  College, President, Tandin Dorji (PhD), who then was curriculum developer, said that writing of the textbook had to be done in a rush.

He said there was a pressure from the government and from other areas that the textbooks should be ready in three months’ time, which was a challenge.

The reason why there was a need to rush was because the parliamentary election was nearing and the school system was used as a vehicle to educate people on democracy and voting.

Tandin Dorji added because of the pressure, there was no time to scrutinise and so the errors in the textbooks.

“Developing civic and history textbooks was a challenge because it was the first time Bhutan was using its own human capital to develop the textbook. Earlier, the textbooks were developed by experts from Australia where they were paid fee of almost AUS $ 1,000.”

He said civic textbooks were developed when most of the Acts were in a draft state. “This is why when we talk about future education we may have to develop our own human capacity to be able to come up with the textbooks.”

Kinga Dakpa said REC has drafted curriculum frameworks for 10 subjects that would guide the curriculum developer and teachers in the future.

‘We still have two or three subjects for which we need to develop framework. With the change of framework, textbooks would also tremendously change. Standard operating procedure is also developed that says curriculum should be revised in 10 years.”

History textbook for class VII and VIII is being drafted based on the curriculum framework, which would be introduced in 2019 academic year. The textbook would contain the context related to about two decades’ history.

During the discussion, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that World History for Class XI level is being taught without textbook. If this experiment proves successful, the system could be followed for Class XII.

Lyonpo said all teachers were involved looking into all the textbooks during the nationwide curriculum review where they came up with the framework for 10 subjects, which is an indication that ministry is keeping an eye on the curriculum. “If we give enough importance to being Bhutanese, creativity, emotional wellbeing then we would have given them enough resources to handle the 21st century education. Along with the curriculum, we’ve to also focus on teachers, which is why the ministry has almost decided to make compulsory for every teachers to have masters degree.”

Yangchen C Rinzin