… to teach the new programmes

Lhakpa Quendren

As the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) does away with some BA programmes in its colleges this year, humanities lecturers are given the choice to reskill to teach the new programmes.

The RUB, as part of the reform, removed the entire bachelor of Arts courses in Sherubtse College while both the courses at the College of Language and Culture Studies (CLCS) have been discontinued.

It has introduced three new bachelor’s degrees for Economics and Political Science, Digital Communications and Project Management, and Data Science and Data Analytics at Sherubtse College.

According to the RUB, some lecturers teaching bachelor degrees at Sherubtse are being reskilled while others will be reskilled to teach the new programmes.

The RUB official said that some lecturers wanted to resign even at the request to stay. “Some already resigned for better opportunities abroad. So we don’t have many at Sherubtse.”

CLCS will also not offer any courses this year as the RUB will repurpose the programmes to meet the changing workplace skills demands and deliver quality education to a wider range of learners.

“The CLCS lecturers will continue to teach as there are students in second and third years. We will repurpose the college by next year or a later year,” said the official.

“We will develop courses in areas to match skills and labour market both within and abroad. For instance, a diploma in cultural tour guides would be one of the courses, and make them knowledgeable about the country,” he said.

Those lecturers wanting to continue would be reskilled if their skills match the new programmes. “We will give them the opportunity to reskill because they have served well and have years of experience,” he added.

An official from Sherubtse College said that courses such as English, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, History, and Geography have been realigned with these new programmes, and lecturers teaching arts and humanities can teach these programmes.

“Those who taught population and developmental studies, sociology, and geography will now teach project management and others will do the same. Likewise, digital communication is similar to English and Media,” he said.

He said, for some specific modules under the project management course, it is being helped and guided by Singaporean experts. “Those interested lecturers have registered online to learn basics. We have also sent a history lecturer for the masters in project management.”

Sherubtse College has 28 faculty members including eight under the fixed term in the arts and humanities department. CLCS has 40 faculty members teaching three bachelor’s degrees and a master’s programme.

Why do away with BA  programmes?

To keep up with the rapid changes around the world, RUB feels the transformation is necessary saying most of the existing programmes are based on textbooks without even knowing what is required in the job market.

The external experts also found that the arts and humanities programmes in the country have been running without quality, according to the RUB.

Most of the existing courses including the new ones require analytical skills (related to math) except for the BSc in Sustainable Development at the College of Natural Resources and Bachelor of Education in primary, Dzongkha, and diploma in sports in the Paro College of Education.

“Those arts and humanities students who do well have the opportunity but the intake has been reduced. History and geography do not help in getting employment even in other countries,” he said.

The official said that all the courses require analytical skills such as math or business math on the recommendation of both module developers and experts from outside.

He said that the education system in the country has not given importance to mathematics and has affected the quality of education. “The country like Canada requires math at least till high school level.”

“Every year, we produce thousands of graduates, but it is of no use if there is a mismatch of what we study and what we are required to do,” the RUB official said. “RCSC could take only those who perform well and the rest could face unemployment issues.”

He cited that in other developed countries, not everyone goes to a university. “At the most, only 40 to 50 percent would go to the university because those people are required to use their head to make decisions and so on.”

“In our country, everyone is aspiring to have a university education. If there are opportunities after university graduation, that is ideal. But the fact is this is not working,” he said.

He said that the purpose of education is not to get a job. “We have to clearly know how we are going to benefit at the individual level, to the nation and the world because this scars resources and opportunities if the graduate is not a productive citizen.”

“Even in the past years, RUB could absorb only 20 percent of the total over 12,000 class 12 graduates. About 10,000 students every year do not get the opportunity to study under RUB,” he said.