Increased number of CS attributed to increasing demand in education and health sectors

Yangchen C Rinzin   

Maintaining a ‘small, compact and efficient’ civil service still remains the biggest challenge for the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC), according to the commission’s annual report 2020-2021.

The increased number of civil servants this time was attributed to the increased demand in the education and health sectors.

In the last three years, the commission recruited 1,737 new civil servants in the education sector and 1,012 civil servants in the health sector.

The commission pointed out that the policy decisions on the education system have driven the growth of human resources. “RCSC has very little say as the decisions are taken directly by the government or sometimes in consultation with the ministry and sometimes unilaterally without due process of policy formula,” the report stated.

On an average, the education sector has recruited 579 teachers and the health sector recruited 337 employees annually in the last three years while all other agencies together recruit only about 250 to 300 officers.

“Although teachers are recruited every year, the vacancies in teaching have not yet stabilised to a reasonable number,” the report stated. “This is despite the average student intake rate from 2016 declined approximately by 2 percent due to decline in birth rates.”

Officials said changing policies with successive change in the government changes the human resource requirement.

An official explained how the number of teacher requirement increased during the previous government’s tenure when it reduced the student-teacher ratio from 22 to 18 hours, dedicated Dzongkha teachers for Classes PP-III, introduction of central schools with boarding facilities, and opening of Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres and special needs teachers.

This government introduced a policy to provide admission to class XI for all students, the introduction of formative assessment for primary level, and reducing the admission age for pre-primary to five years old from six. “RCSC received a new requirement of teacher assistants,” the official said.

The commission found that with the continuous expansion of health infrastructure, demand for human resources have also increased including the establishment of new hospitals and basic health units upgraded.

The commission, however, saw positive development with the recent staffing exercise of 49 departments of eight ministries, 25 agencies, 20 dzongkhags, and four thromdes. “The demand for staff is stabilising and decreasing in some agencies,” the report stated.

The reduction in the staff was partly attributed to leveraging on the ICT systems that have reduced workload, the assessment for staff requirements, multi-tasking of staff and doing away with redundant posts.

The commission also found that changing policies without adherence to existing policy making processes, policies are being developed with limited due diligence, consultation and appreciation of the practical implications on the ground and future sustainability.

“Such practices could lead to many issues in the future. The frequent change in the education sector policies where many new interventions are introduced even before the earlier systems or processes stabilise,” the report pointed out.

The commission pointed out that this raises questions of quality, cost effectiveness and sustainability of such policies.

Meanwhile, besides the challenges of keeping a small and compact civil service, the challenges of collaboration and coordination have also been long standing in the civil service.

The recent Royal Kasho also clearly reflected that agencies pursue isolated sectoral objectives while administrative processes burden efficient service delivery.

It also stated communication and coordination has been further side-lined in the quest for autonomy by different agencies.

It was found that agencies were generally found to function in “silo” fashion with limited or minimal interaction with relevant agencies. The issue was also extensively reported during the mid-term review of the 12th Plan this year.

“These challenges have come to the forefront in the context of increasingly fast paced and disruptive change like the Covid-19 pandemic,” the report.

However, the RCSC has now developed the leadership statement and the support functions assessment as management tools for performance improvement and accountability enhancement through better staff engagement, increased ICT use, greater collaboration & coordination, and continuous innovation.

This will be implemented from 2021-22 Fiscal Year.

There are 31,267 civil servants including 26,798 on regular and 4,469 on contract as of June 2021.

Edited by Tashi Dema