KP Sharma

The government will hire an additional 100 expatriate teachers from India in July 2024 to address the shortages of STEM teachers in the country.

Education and Skill Development Minister Yeezang De Thapa shared this information in response to an enquiry by Dophuchen-Tading MP Ugyen Lama about the government’s strategies to address the STEM teacher shortage.

According to the minister, the government will hire 35 Mathematics teachers, 18 Physics teachers, 19 Chemistry teachers, and 28 ICT teachers in July 2024.

Lyonpo said that there was a shortage of 1,110 STEM teachers, including 479 in Mathematics, 241 in ICT, 193 in Physics, and 197 in Chemistry across 499 public schools.

As of June this year, there is an “immediate” shortage of 135 STEM teachers, including 46 in Mathematics, 38 in ICT, 22 in Physics, and 29 in Chemistry.

Lyonpo added that 18 STEM teachers will complete their PGDE and join the service in addition to the expatriate teachers.

This includes nine in Mathematics, one in ICT, and four each in Physics and Chemistry, reducing the shortage of STEM teachers  to 118, expected to be filled next year.

MP Ugyen Lama highlighted the urgent need for STEM teachers, citing Tashithang Middle Secondary’s idle science lab as an example due to a lack of teachers and laboratory equipment.

Lyonpo assured that the school would have fully equipped labs in the 2024-2025 fiscal year, stating that past financial constraints hindered the purchase of equipment in the school.

According to the minister, the ministry faced a shortage of 1,263 teachers in 2023.

To fill this shortage, the ministry recruited a total of 187 B.Ed teachers in January and reduced the shortage to 1,076.

From March to June this year, Lyonpo said that 646 contract teachers were hired, lowering the teacher shortage to 430.

However, 247 teachers resigned recently, increasing the shortage to 677 again.

The minister added that by July, with 121 new PGDE and 100 expatriate teachers, the shortage will be reduced to 456.

Khamdang-Ramjar MP Namgay Dorji expressed concern over teacher attrition, particularly in rural areas, leading to decrease in quality of education.

He also criticised the timing of professional development programmes, which he said disrupts teaching sessions.