“So, Class X cut-off point stays or is it lifted?”

This trending question posted on social media is on every Bhutanese mind since the education minister’s announcement in the Assembly on Tuesday. The government decided to do away with the cut-off point creating confusions, doubts and suspense.

Adding more confusion, the minister did not mention the word “cut-off”. But if the decision was to absorb all Class X students, who manage the pass percentage in higher secondary schools, government or private, it is the same – like we say, whether it is a Tari (axe) or Toktse (spade), the head is metal.

It is a tense moment for thousands of students who sat for the board examinations. The Class X results will be declared any time soon. What they want is clarity. The so-called cut-off point will make a lot of difference. Some will go on to study in public schools. Some will have parents’ sponsor in private schools. Some will look for jobs and some join training institutes. What the students don’t need now is the confusions.

The source of the confusion is the decision the government made in December at the 19th national education conference. Educationists and experts who met for days, chaired by the minister, decided to keep the cut-off point.

The cause of the confusion is the honourable members of parliament. Weeks after the decision of the education conference was announced, media following it closely, the written question handed over at the Parliament session was if the government would do away with the cut-off point, as pledged.

The education minister’s response shocked observers, if not the parliamentarians. The government is already working on how to absorb the students in public schools. There were no follow up questions, as many expected. Many expected a heated debate. This leaves room for suspicions and doubts.

Some are already questioning the reason behind the sudden U-turn in the decision while some are accusing media of misinforming and the bureaucrats in the ministry for the silence if there had been a change.  A little bit of clarity would help all.

Whether the cut-off point stays or the government initiates change, it is their prerogative. What is lacking is transparency. We believe the reasons are sound enough to undo a three-week-old decision and make it public.

The suspicion is if parliamentarians are regarding politics above reasoning. The parliamentarians, if they had done their homework, were expected to grill the government on the sudden change and convince people. This they didn’t do, including members of the vocal opposition. 

Students and parents will appreciate doing away with cut off points. It will ease the financial burden on parents and give students a second chance for higher secondary schooling.

In other words, it is a popular decision. If the opposition has not questioned it for political reasons, they have failed this time.