Lhakpa Quendren

To improve the education system in the country, the government has unveiled plans to standardise schools in the 13th Five-Year-Plan, as a response to the major educational transformation.

The decision comes considering several factors, including the need to streamline resources, address teacher-to-student ratio, and improve infrastructure development, among others.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that despite having the best teacher-to-student ratio, the education quality has been compromised due to several factors, including the lack of infrastructure.

Lyonchhen said that the education policy requires a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:18 in the country. “However, the current ratio is 1:12 or 1:13 in many schools in gewogs and dzongkhags. In Trashiyangtse, the ratio is 1:12, which is considered excellent by global standards.”

The move is also expected to improve the overall well-being and academic performance of the students. “Our research has shown that boarding students generally perform better academically and are also less likely to experience micronutrient deficiencies,” Lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that the number of schools has increased in a decade while the student population has decreased, which led to a compromise in the education quality.

“There are various factors to this decline, including a worldwide trend of declining birth rates that we couldn’t do much about,” Lyonchhen said.

In 2012, there were over 174,000 students attending school in 550 schools across the country. However, the number of schools has increased to 564, and the number of students has dropped to 162,000 in a decade.

“I have asked the planners for the 13th Plan to look into the number of student population in the schools and find ways to improve the education quality,” Lyonchhen said.

Lyonchhen also said that issues concerning schools and healthcare should be managed by the relevant ministries. He said that there is no necessity for local government involvement in planning due to their lack of expertise in these areas.

Lyonchhen shared the plan at the ongoing parliament session in response to a query from Karma Gyeltshen, Khamdang-Ramjar’s Member of Parliament, about the decision to downgrade Kheni Lower Secondary School to Primary School in Toedtsho Gewog, Tashiyangtse.

Karma Gyeltshen said that Kheni LSS has students from many villages, including graduates from Jangphutse and Tsangphuchen Primary Schools who continue their education after completing the sixth grade.

He said that the constituents expected the school to be upgraded to a middle secondary school. “Instead, there were talks about downgrading the school due to the policy requiring a certain number of students, which has raised concerns among the people.”

According to the education ministry’s guidelines, extended classrooms should have a minimum of 20 students, and primary schools should have at least 50 students.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, however, said that there are no plans to downgrade Kheni Lower Secondary School.