How wonderful it is that we have a day in a year set aside for our teachers!

We have marked May 2, the birth anniversary of Drukgyal Sumpa Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as our own Teachers’ Day. This day every year, we thank our teachers for all the contributions they make in building this our nation.

As we celebrate the work of our teachers, this day of May is perhaps aßlso the right time to reflect on the state of our teachers, students, and education itself. As much as we can share in the successes we have achieved as a nation, we have challenges to meet. The journey of education has not been all smooth sailing.

The declining quality of education is a concern that has hung on still. At the same time, we are faced with the challenge of keeping our teachers in the field. In the first four months of this year, some 200 teachers have left the profession. This – 2.4 percent out of 8,562 strong teaching force – is more than the total number of teachers who left the profession in the last eight years. We could afford to lose professionals in other sector, but losing teachers will have serious implications across the sectors.

Teachers not only are crucial to the right to education, they are also the significant players in achieving inclusive, equitable and quality education, and in promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. Good teachers make good schools. Good schools produce good students. At a time when we are grappling with the declining quality of education, losing teachers is the last thing we can allow in the system.

A study carried out by the ministry has found that many teachers who have served more than 10 years have not had the opportunity to upgrade their skills by way of training and workshops. This is a significant finding. Changing curriculum and not paying our teachers well won’t help. Neither will there be any benefits to be had if we increase workload of our teachers, lessening the required instructional time in the classrooms.

Because teachers are critically important for equitable and quality education, we must increase the supply of qualified teachers. To retain our teachers, we need to motivate them by valuing their work within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.

This day of May so, we thank our teachers who work tirelessly to shape the face and soul of this nation. We can never thank you enough because what you give us is priceless.