Education: With plans to expand agriculture for food security (AgFS) as an optional subject in the higher secondary schools next year, the Royal Education Council (REC) is planning to propose recruitment of College of Natural Resources (CNR) graduates to teach the subject.

AgFS, which was initiated as part of the curriculum diversification plan to improve relevance in higher secondary schools, is currently taught only in 39 schools. As an optional subject, AgFS provides basic knowledge, skills, and values of integrated farming like forestry, agriculture and livestock.

The subject focuses on dairy, poultry, piggery, horticulture and vegetable production. AgFS is framed in a way to enable students to learn about storages, indigenous food crop preservation and organic farming, among others.

Initially teachers in general were given the task to teach AgFS in pilot schools following an orientation on the subject for several days. However, the REC has found it necessary to recruit professional teachers for the subject after finding that it could not be taught by any general  teacher.

“We have found out in the process that it is difficult for the other general teachers to teach AgFS since the teachers have to learn themselves first and then teach the students,” REC curriculum specialist and AgFS in-charge, Wangchuk Rabten said.

Therefore, REC is planning to recommend that the ministry and the RCSC explore the possibility of recruiting CNR graduates as AgFS teachers. Though REC hasn’t written to the RCSC yet, it has verbally discussed with the commission on the need to recruit CNR graduates.

“RCSC has however asked us to submit the proposal in writing,” Wangchuk Raten said, adding that REC will first discuss with the ministry on the recruitment of CNR graduates as AgFS teachers.

But the problem, he said, is that the number of graduates graduating from CNR is limited. It is also doubtful whether any of these graduates would be interested to take up teaching.

The REC said that the teachers would have to be trained or recruited by December since they have to be deployed to schools in January. “We will be discussing soon with the ministry on the recruitment,” Wangchuk Rabten said.

Meanwhile, the education ministry’s chief human resource officer, Kinley Gyeltshen said that the ministry could propose the recruitment only if the REC submits its proposal in writing. “The ministry will purely go by the recommendation from the REC since they know what is required,” he said.

While there is a requirement of trained and professional teachers for other optional subjects like media studies and environment science, as of now the ministry is planning to use existing teachers. For instance, teachers from science and geography will take up environment science. English teachers will teach media studies although there is a requirement of around 60 teachers.

As of now around 30 English teachers trained in media studies are teaching the subject in the schools.

For vocational subjects, the ministry is planning to use the technical training institute graduates employed in schools as technicians as teachers for vocational subjects. Currently there are around 200 such technicians like electricians in schools.

“These technicians will be given an opportunity and training to upgrade their skills who will then be used as instructors for the vocational subjects,” Kinley Gyeltshen said.

Tempa Wangdi